I have recently run into a number of situations where pastors of churches got into trouble with their boards and senior pastor when they disagreed with them or spoke their minds (in appropriate ways). 

In both cases, at least at the leadership level there was a high degree of group think with any deviation from the specified allowed thinking patterns labeled as disloyal, sinful and in fact grounds for punitive action. In both cases, the punitive action was to be kept "secret" and the staff members were not allowed to talk to anyone about the issues at hand. Nor were they given a proper hearing by leaders who demanded absolute loyalty.

These are obviously highly dysfunctional churches and border on cult like practices. In cults there is an absolute mandate to take the party line, no place for either dissent or independent thinking and when someone starts to think independently they are strictly warned of the consequences. There are also "secrets" because these are not open systems, secrets and lack of transparency are high. 

Paul obviously felt free to disagree with Peter in the early church. Unity in the church (a word that gets bandied about often in group think churches) does not mean that we all agree on everything. It does mean that we agree to work together - and the best working together happens when there is honesty, grace, transparency and the ability to speak one's mind. It never happens when these elements are missing.

Interestingly, in the latest example, the church in question is moving significantly downward in its attendance, there are secret board meetings taking place regularly, absolute loyalty being asked for, dissent being punished and and secrecy of all these issues from the congregation. My prediction is that the church will continue its downward spiral until it's leaders either get out of the way or choose a different leadership culture. 

Group think in the church is never healthy. Or in any organization and in some churches it comes very close to if not over the line into cult like practices. 
  • Jun 22, 2013
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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