Rules and Routine
Children are born loving routine and regularity in their days. They like knowing what each day is going to bring. It gives them a certain security. Knowing the rules gives the illusion of being in control. If you can count it, measure it, or nail it down it takes a huge burden off of your shoulders – at least temporarily.
How Do People Get Pulled in to Unhealthy Groups?
Unhealthy churches may seem at first like a strong refuge to people who have been through major trauma or who have been abused in some way. The security offered by the rules of legalism is appealing when your life seems to be crumbling. Just the feeling of certainty that you now know What Makes You a Good Christian gives you the sense of peace – at least for awhile. You are sure you have arrived at a Safe House where everything is done decently and in order. Add to that the great warm welcome you received and you feel your weary journey has ended. You’ve found the place you can call “home.”
Don’t Let Your Guard Down
Jim Jones and David Koresh are the extreme examples of unhealthy groups. Realistically, you may not immediately recognize an unwholesome community until you have spent some time there. It is imperative that you keep your spiritual ears tuned in to the Holy Spirit at whatever church or group in which you may land. In the glow of the warmth with which you were welcomed, it is easy to begin to depend on the group leader, and brush off the quiet warnings from the Holy Spirit that should make you stop and think. Truthfully, any group or ministry has the potential to become unhealthy. Sometimes it begins with leadership, but it may come from members of the group. I have been in three different churches where a godly pastor was abused by their deacons or the official board. Two of those pastors were destroyed; they gave up pastoring altogether. Here are some web sites that list the things that should put your spiritual antennae on alert. These sites do not cover all of the possibilities, but they are a beginning. A Google search will turn up many others. Spiritual Abuse and Tips for Spotting an Unhealthy Church
What if You Do Find Yourself in a Situation?
Always take it to the Lord first. Lean on His understanding. There may be some whom God deems strong enough to stay and fight the wrong. God may tell others “get out of Dodge” soonest. If you find yourself addicted to the Kool-Aid as I did, God may have to drag you out kicking and screaming.You see, I had arrived at a place where I leaned on the leader’s advice for so long without seeking God’s point of view, that I had to learn all over again how to listen to Him.
Coming soon: Part III Getting the Legalism Out of the Pharisee