Into the Light: A Series on Abuse and the Church looks like it will be a good series by Rachel Evans on the need to expose abusive church leaders and those who hide the abuse. We need more such voices of courage and resolve.
The recent situation with Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) illustrates this need. Over the years, Marianne and I have seen lives destroyed by one of their churches near us. We tried to raise warnings locally, but they were lost among the outward images of “success” by that church and the charisma of its leading “apostle” and popular author and conference speaker.
Yet behind the scenes, the arrogance of leadership there, and their attitude of being untouchable, was astounding. Fortunately, however, God has a way of protecting His people by eventually exposing such sin, after all opportunities to first confess and repent have been ignored.
I’ve been involved in way too many of these kinds of cases – as a friend, a counselor, a church leader, and even as an attorney. Each one has deeply affected me as I had to come beside the victims and be strong for them, while also unflinchingly standing up to some narcissistic – but always charming yet manipulative – exploitive church leader.
But then I’d go home and literally be sick and cry in private over the devastation wrought by the arrogance of abusive leaders in the Body of Christ.
One massive case I helped put together against Christ Chapel, a local church with an alleged pattern of abuse, recently was successfully settled after charges were filed in Federal Court and the judge denied their motion to have the case dismissed. But it took more than two years of emotional wear and tear – on all involved – to get there.
Overall, I have zero tolerance for the narcissists among us – who use their positions of trust in the Body of Christ to exploit others – and the hypocrisy of those who defend and protect them.
A year ago, our fellowships directed me to investigate a situation that’s very similar to SGM, but has been going on within the organic church community.
It involves multiple accounts of a national organic church “leader” and his history of exploiting young women (including teenagers) half his age – along with a nasty campaign of manipulation, intimidation and cover up by his fellow band of “workers” who have tried to keep it hidden.
As I and others have asked questions, we’ve found many with the courage to step forward and bear witness to what went on, and the stories are heart wrenching. We now have more than enough facts to begin publicly addressing the situation – which others tried to do in the past based on the mandates of 1 Tim. 5:19-21, but were silenced.
Interestingly, rather than repenting, I got a thinly veiled threat of being sued in response to our investigation and resolve to expose them.
Anyone who knows me, knows that was the wrong reaction!
No doubt, there will be protests by some against exposing the disqualifying sins of their beloved and charming “man of God” and national leader. However, 1 Tim. 5:19-21 still stands – and it commands that we warn others of abusive leaders where there is no open confession and repentance. Exposure is not optional.
More to come…