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Healthy Church or Unhealthy Church?
By Rebecca Hanson*
- No church is completely healthy nor totally unhealthy, but most lie somewhere along a
continuum. Some churches lie very close to the cult end while others are somewhere in
between. The way to tell if a church is healthy or unhealthy is to examine the
INTERPERSONAL relationships that are actually occurring. Most issues involving
interpersonal relationships fall into one or two of the following categories:
COMMUNICATION, CARE and/or CONTROL.
- Here is a "thumbnail" comparison of ten Healthy vs. Unhealthy practices which
will help you identify the "3 C's"--Communication, Care and Control:
- Healthy Churches
- 1.Group identity and true motives are revealed.--communication--open and honest, nothing
- 2. Visitors are genuinely made to feel welcome and included--caring, supportive,
- 3. Potential members are free to decide which meetings and activities to
attend--(Non)controlling, allows differences of priorities.
- 4. Communication is reciprocal--communication--open and equal.
- 5. Leaders and members are easily available and candid when YOU want to
talk.--(non)controlling, considerate of others, values your time more than his.
- 6. You have a sense of "freedom" and "affirmation" when you leave
the meetings.--(non)controlling, enhancing others, releases others to be themselves.
- 7. Your personal boundaries are important and respected--caring, respectful.
- 8. You have the right to question beliefs, practices and motives.--communication is
encouraged, not threatened, willing to admit faults or wrongs,
- 9. You have a right to ask MORE questions if not satisfied with initial
answers.--nothing to hide, willing to be closely examined, high integrity,
- 10. You have complete freedom to EXIT the church if you are not
satisfied.--(non)controlling, doesn't "use" or need to "hang on" to
- Unhealthy Churches
- 1. Members are told to withhold certain information from outsiders--communication is
blocked, hidden agenda, secret, controlling, deceptive.
- 2. Newcomers are made to feel so special that they don't dare go elsewhere (without
seeming ungrateful).-- overzealous to recruit, prey on vulnerable people, manipulation. Or
they are ignored and have to figure out how to be included--exclusiveness.
- 3. The leaders encourage you to put their meetings and activities before all other
commitments. Family, friends and even jobs are expected to be secondary.--control, use of
shame or guilt, badgering, ridicule, manipulation.
- 4. Communication is mostly one-way. (i.e., If you don't initiate it, it doesn't
happen.--(non)caring, controlling, wanting to be served rather than serving.
- 5. The "higher" the positioned leader, the less accessible--doesn't return
phone messages promptly, keeps conversation to a minimum. --control, (non)caring,
- 6. You have a sense of "fear" or "condemnation" or "shame"
or "guilt" when you leave the meetings --control, judgmentalism, legalism.
- 7. "Boundaries" are unheard of and you often feel
"violated"--(non)caring, abusive, controlling.
- 8. They insist on total, unquestioning obedience and submission to the leadership.
--control level is more extreme, very dangerous sign.
- 9. You are singled out or shunned if you persist in "questioning their
authority." --control level is very dangerous, get out right away.
- 10. You fear leaving, because there will be a "price to pay"--labeling,
slander, or some form of intimidation.--control level is that of a cult. You will probably
need help to get away from them.
* This article is reprinted with permission
of the author from Rebecca's Well Website http://ww.attractmore.com/Rebeccaswell/healthy_church.htm
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was revised on:
Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:02:47 PM