Part 7 of 7
Sadly, spiritual abuse is all too common and eerily similar wherever it occurs. It is not limited to particular denominations or extreme cult-like churches, but also happens among many normal, mainstream churches.
Part of the reason is because the church has adopted the political and power structures of the world for governing, rather than building the church with kingdom principles and values.
It is the nature of those systems that actually corrupts relationships within community. Hierarchial structures and authoritarian leadership produce the politics that result in abuse.
Pyramid-shaped leadership structures produce an elite class. This is damaging not only to the members who assume passive roles, but also to the leaders who take on a distorted view of their spiritual authority and responsiblity.
The idea of spiritual covering is a common teaching that is a manifestation of this distorted concept of a leader's authority. The covering teaching elevates the leader as a mediator, replacing the role of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the person's life.
Churches have become clubs built around the superiority of their particular doctrine. This works to not only divide groups of believers, but also creates an unhealthy culture of exclusivity within the group.
Rather than being a dispersed people focused on our mission in the world, the time, talent, and money of members is invested in maintaining organizations.
The church was supposed to be a new kind of society with a unique character. It has instead emulated the world in its leadership and organization.
If change is necessary, let us be willing to change for the health and growth of the Body, not protecting our organizations and structures as if they were sacred.
Whether they have experienced abuse or not, many within the emerging conversation understand the inaccuracies of the system and are taking a serious look at the leadership of church.
Take a look at this reformation paper written by Marc Van der Woude outlining many of the changes that are necessary.
These are the things the emerging conversation is challenging and attempting to redefine. Many of us have abandoned our attachment to organizations and structures. However, we have not abandoned our love for the body of Christ.