Random Rants

Abusive churches: what happens to those who leave?

I’m not quite done with my series on the mainline church, and I hope to put up the remaining posts soon. For now, I came across a passage that I wanted to share.

In his book, Churches that Abuse (available online), Ronald Enroth writes,

…another sign of impending trouble in a church is an obsession with discipline and excommunication. Beware of churches that warn of certain doom if you leave their “covering,” or if you “break covenant.” Once banished from the group, little compassion is shown the wayward one. And overwhelming majority of the ex-members I have interviewed expressed the opinion that abusive leaders are cold, almost cruel, in their treatment of people who leave — whether that departure was voluntary or involuntary. Almost without exception they report that the leadership made no attempt at reconciliation and made no effort to heal the wounds inflicted. Instead, defectors are held up to the congregation as warnings to potential “sowers of discord.”


A sure sign that a church is headed for the fringe is when family relationships are significantly disrupted and the leadership encourages the severing of ties with relatives outside of the group.

An overdeveloped sense of church membership or the church covenant can lead to a manipulative, controlling and authoritarian “regime” which refuses to accept diversity of opinion or personal freedom to come and go as one pleases. Let us beware in our zeal for building “biblical” churches that we not fall into such cultism.

Posted from my iPhone


One thought on “Abusive churches: what happens to those who leave?

  1. This post hits on a major struggle in the Church – a demeaning view of alternative denominations and congregations. Too bad – Christians should trust God with His flock. Good stuff.

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