Some time ago I wrote a post that became very popular, Why I Wouldn’t Attend Pastor Steepek’s Church. But it became popular for the wrong reasons.
I was alarmed at the response. Actually, saddened. The overwhelming reaction was that it is not only legitimate but necessary and even divine to use shame to motivate church members. I used to think that spiritual abuse was happening enough to be a concern. Now I think it is prevalent.
My conclusion: the church normalizes abuse and cultivates a culture of shame. And many people starve for this sensation.
Here is the cyclical pattern that a church and its members can absolutely thrive on:
- guilt: realizing that you failed to live up to an expectation
- shame: this failure means you are a bad person
- inspiration: you get inspired (by yourself, a preacher, books, etc.) to try again
- failure: you fail to measure up to what you were inspired to do
- recycle: start all over again with #1
We’ve normalized abuse as a way of life not because we’re bad people but because some leaders need us to believe we are.
Want to talk about this with other people who know what I’m talking about? Join The Lasting Supper.