All of us will, at times, be called to endure humbly a leader’s mistakes and sins. Nonetheless, should you find yourself in a church where the leadership is characteristically abusive, I would, in most cases, encourage you to flee. Flee to protect your discipleship, to protect your family, to set a good example for the members left behind, to serve non-Christian neighbors by not lending credibility to the church’s ministry.
How do you recognize abusive leadership? Paul requires two witnesses for a charge to be leveled against an elder (1 Tim 5:19), probably because he knows that leaders will be charged with infelicities more often than others, often unfairly. That said, abusive churches and Christian leaders characteristically
Make dogmatic prescriptions in places where Scripture is silent.
Rely on intelligence, humor, charm, guilt, emotions, or threats rather than on God’s Word and prayer. (Acts 6:4)
Punish those who disagree.
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