by Thom Rainer
A church cartel is an alliance of bullies, bully-followers, and even non-Christians in the church. Its ultimate goal is to get its way. It feeds off of selfish power. Bullies love positions of authority in church, and they quickly form Cartels. This is a common thing in the Church, and Orthodoxy is not exempt from it. Many clergy are victimized by them, and higher ups seem not to even notice what is really going on. This article by Thom Rainer gives some practical advice for those who have experienced it. As someone who has, these are prudent steps.
A bully-led personnel committee ran Frank out of the church. They never told the pastor why they wanted him to resign. Jan was a very active layperson in the student ministry. A cartel of jealous church members pushed her out of the church.
I wish such examples were anomalies, but they aren’t. To the contrary, such incidents seem to be gaining traction. And, of course, they are both the cause and the result of the number of unhealthy churches in American.
I have written and spoken at length about this issue, but I have not yet addressed the aftermath of such bullying from the perspective of the victim. What is he or she to do after the horrific incident? Here are seven suggestions:
- Take care of your family. That’s a tough order, especially when you are hurting so much already. But your family is in pain. They need you. They need to know all of you will be okay.
- Pray with specificity. You should ask God for comfort, for strength, and for peace. You should ask him to remove the bitterness that such terrible abuse brings. Trust Him to do it, because you can’t.
- Find a healthy church. You won’t find a perfect church, but there are many good and healthy churches. You can’t give up on churches completely because of the toxic cartel church. You need to remain in a local body of believers.
- Move carefully before taking another ministry position. You need time. You need to take care of your family. You need to take care of yourself. The ministry position can come later, just not immediately.
- Count your blessings. This saying is not trite. When we have been hurt deeply by church bullies and a cartel, it is easy and natural to focus on that hurt. Start focusing on your blessings. Ask God to open your eyes and heart to all the great ways He is working in and through your life.
- Become an advocate for other victims. Don’t stay on the sidelines the next time you see bullying take place in a church. Stand up to the bully. Be a source of understanding and comfort for the victim. God can use your pain for His glory and others’ good.
- Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t give up on God and local churches and fellow believers. Don’t give in to bitterness and self-pity. Though it sounds cliché, you can become a better person and believer in the midst of the struggles you are experiencing.
I wish we didn’t have to talk and write about such issues. I wish they didn’t exist in churches. But the greater harm would be ignoring this evil and letting it run rampant.
Bullying is evil. Cartels are nefarious as well.
But God is good. And He is greater than anything the world or the local church can throw our way.