C. S. Lewis wrote, “Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst” (Reflections on the Psalms).
Biting sheep are far too common in the church today, but a lot could be said about biting shepherds as well—pastors who manipulate and control their congregations through intimidation, emotional manipulation, verbal or sexual abuse, and outright threats. There are a large number of stories about abusive pastors from people throughout the world.
The First Church of Beaucoup Bucks (yes, the name is fictional, before you Google it!) was losing their pastor and needed someone to fill in.
Enter Jack and his wife Vera. Jack seemed like the perfect interim pastor, a friend of the previous pastor and regular visitor of the church. Now with his foot in the door, he began to ingratiate himself with the rich and powerful. Soon Jack had made himself not just the interim pastor, but the virtual pastor of the church. Drastic changes followed, and Jack started attacking not only the reputation of the previous pastor, but also his style of leadership and character.
When an elder challenged Jack about his actions, he started a campaign of personal defamation to get rid of this elder. As if that weren’t enough, he verbally abused, shouted at, and berated him through e-mails, phone calls, and personal conversations. Good friends were pitted against each other. Through skillful manipulation Jack had managed to turn normally godly, intelligent people into spiritually blind followers.
Did Jack have a history of such behavior? That’s always an important question in such situations. Denominational hierarchies, usually overburdened and stressed, probably don’t want to deal with another problem and often turn a blind eye to such situations—unless there is some sexual misbehavior involved.
What would you do?