toxicOver the years, some churches have become known as pastors’ graveyards simply because they’ve been allowed to continue undisturbed along their habitual paths of destructive behavior.

Sometimes, pastors will accept positions in them without any prior warning from those who know the inside story but for various reasons fail to say. Or they accept the position thinking that the same thing won’t happen to them. And sometimes it’s a call from God to obey even knowing it’s a killer congregation. I’ve taken one of those and asked, “Are you sure, God?”

As pastors, we must be prepared to face the plain fact that some churches are toxic, not only for their leaders, but for their own members. It’s unfortunate that a few bad apples can rot the entire church.

I had never heard of this before: Ecclesiogenic Neuroses (church-caused disorder). In the psychiatric literature of Germany, the phrase has been used for at least a half century. It appears that it was first coined by Berlin physician E. Schaetzing in the journal Wege zum Menschen (1955). This condition was identified not as an attack upon Christian faith or the church, but as a diagnosis of those belonging to unhealthy (i.e., highly legalistic) communities.

If you’ve been in a killer congregation, what did you do about it?