Stand Firm


I woke up this morning to a bunch of text messages on my phone. They were from a more Eastern time zone than me, and I was sleeping in a bit since the kids were off school today. When I got up and read them it was not surprising.

I’ve been speaking with a friend about leaving an authoritarian church. He’s been there before, and has found himself in the situation again. It seems like the situation has elevated over the past year. I understand, maybe even saw it coming, but sometimes you must let it play out.

Given some of my work on the topic, I’m grateful he reached out and hopefully I’ve helped a little. I read the departure letter, I read the response, and now I’m reading the next round. It always goes the same way. There’s no winning with authoritarians. I wrote about that a while ago, the article is linked here, but in short, the only way to leave is to leave.

The topic in this case is how to respond. Should you respond?

That’s not always an easy question to answer, but in most cases, I say, yes.

I’ve been counseled by many good men to drop it. I’ve responded to that before as well. There are times to walk away, but there are also times to fight. Bullies rarely respond to walking away. Metaphorically, punching them in the face is often the only way they understand certain realities. To tell a bully he is a bully, or to tell an abusive pastor he is an abusive pastor, is necessary sometimes, or even most times.

Bullies get away with bullying because nobody stands up to them. Oh, sure they do it in the name of love, they say they are loving them out the door, or by excommunicating them and shunning them they are actually serving the body of Christ in a “speaking the truth in love,” sort of a way.

My advice is to know where you stand with the Lord. My friend said they are seeking Christ. They are striving to serve Him, be more like Him, and dying to themselves and their own desires. It’s really hard to argue with that. Be confident in where you stand, and then stand up and do something. Be courageous, because taking on authoritarians is never an easy battle.