Has Anyone Ever Heard of Radiant Life Church in Sacramento
Date: May 16, 2007 11:24AM
Here is a list of questions that I found to be very interesting. They compare a healthy church to an unhealthy church.
[b:b7900fea48]Uncovering Churches that Abuse People[/b:b7900fea48]
[b:b7900fea48]1. Does a member’s personality generally become stronger, happier, more confident as a result of contact with the group?[/b:b7900fea48]
In an abusive church, the use of guilt, fear, and intimidation to control members is likely to produce members who have a low self-image, who feel beaten down by legalism, who have been taught that asserting oneself is not spiritual.
One of the first disturbing characteristics to be reported by relatives and friends of members of these churches is a noticeable change in personality, usually in a negative direction.
[b:b7900fea48]2. Do members of the group seek to strengthen their family commitments? [/b:b7900fea48]
Nearly all unhealthy churches attempt to minimize the commitments of their members to their family, especially parents.
Young people may be told that they now have a new “spiritual” family, complete with leaders who will “re-parent” them.
Church loyalty is seen as paramount, and family commitments are discouraged or viewed as impediments to spiritual advancement.
[b:b7900fea48]3. Does the group encourage independent thinking and the development of discernment skills? [/b:b7900fea48]
Control-oriented leaders attempt to dictate what members think, although the process is so spiritualized that members usually do not realize what is going on.
A pastor or leader is viewed as God’s mouth piece, and in varying degrees a member’s decision making and ability to think for oneself are swallowed up by the group.
Pressure to conform and low tolerance for questioning make it difficult to be truly discerning.
[b:b7900fea48]4. Does the group’s leadership invite dialogue, advice and evaluation from outside its immediate circle? [/b:b7900fea48]
Authoritarian pastors are usually threatened by any outside expression of diverse opinions, whether from inside or outside the group. When outside speakers are given access to the pulpit, they are carefully selected to minimize any threat to the leadership’s agenda.
Coercive pastors are fiercely independent and do not function well in a structure of accountability.
For the sake of public relations, they may boast that they are accountable to a board of some sort, when in actuality the [u:b7900fea48]board is composed of [b:b7900fea48]“yes-men”[/b:b7900fea48] [/u:b7900fea48]who do not question the leader’s authority.
[b:b7900fea48]5. Are group members encouraged to ask hard questions of any kind?
A cardinal rule of abusive systems is “Don’t ask questions, don’t make waves.” [/b:b7900fea48]
A healthy pastor welcomes even tough questions. In an unhealthy church [u:b7900fea48]disagreement with the pastor is considered to be disloyalty and is tantamount to disobeying God. [/u:b7900fea48]
People who repeatedly question the system are labeled “rebellious”, “unreachable”, or “disharmonious to the body of Christ”.
Persistent questioners may face sanctions of some kind such as being publicly ridiculed, shunned, shamed, humiliated, or disfellowshipped.
[b:b7900fea48]6. Do members appreciate truth wherever it is found even if it is outside their group? [/b:b7900fea48]
Whether they admit it or not, abusive churches tend to view themselves as spiritually superior to other Christian groups.
This religious elitism allows little room for outside influences. There can be no compromise with external sources, who, the leadership will say, really don’t understand what is going on in the ministry anyway.
[i:b7900fea48]The following questions come from the book: Recovering from Churches That Abuse, by Ronald Enroth, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervon, 1994. [/i:b7900fea48][b:b7900fea48][/b:b7900fea48]