Church Bullies and Effective Ways to Deal with Them

Bullying is something that most people think happens primarily to kids or adolescents and that it only takes place in schools or online. Church seems like it would be the last place one would find a bully. Unfortunately, however, church bullies are common and unpleasant.

Part of the reason bullies exist in the church is because these people use bullying as a tactic to get a position in leadership, and in doing so, they create a lot of dissension among the rest of the leadership team.

One reason it’s so hard to deal with a church bully is because they often don’t see themselves as a bully. Besides believing they don’t exhibit bullying behavior, other traits of a church bully include self-serving agendas, they try to persuade weaker members in the church to become allies with them and support their cause, and they sometimes have intense personalities and use it to intimidate others into getting their own way.

Some, on the other hand, are more subtle and tend to work behind the scenes. Church bullies also exhibit the exact opposite fruits of the spirit, which according to Galatians 5:22 are love, joy, peace, self-control, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, kindness, and goodness.

Church bullies wreak havoc in the church and they often get away with it because no one wants to stand up to them. Sometimes even pastors won’t stand up to them because they know that church bullies are not beneath attacking them or slandering them by making false accusations. Once they have caused damage in one church, they often move on to the next, even after getting their way.

Besides causing disruption and disunity among the church body, the actions of a bully can be much more detrimental. Church splits take place, pastors resign, and other healthy leaders are driven away. Besides affecting the leadership, church bullies can also cause pain and suffering for members of the congregation, forcing some to leave the church.

What is a church to do?

Dealing with church bullies is usually much easier said than done. For instance, pastors are often advised to confront the church bully and try to stop them from continuing in their bullying ways. But what if a church bully just doesn’t listen, or they don’t leave the church when the pastor asks them to do so?

Here are some different ways that various church leaders have recommended to effectively deal with a church bully.

Some church leaders believe that it is best to leave the pastor out of the situation altogether. It is suggested that a church should appoint a special group of people to deal with church bullies. These people should be men and women of courage who don’t like to fight but are not afraid of conflict. Another good quality for this group of people to have is to be, “harmless as doves, wise as serpents,” which is how Jesus said His sheep should act among wolves. (Matthew 10:16).

As a retired pastor, Joe McKeever, had personal experience with church bullies. He says one of the best things to do is to expose the bully in a public forum, such as a church business meeting where members of the congregation are present.

He suggests having an appointed “questioner” to confront the bully. This person should be someone who is “Christlike, mature, and gracious.” It’s important for the questioner to not make charges or accusations, but to simply ask questions of the church bully to try to unveil the motives for their actions.

Some questions to ask might include, “Did you not pray about this? Did you not ask the Lord what He wanted done?” Once the questioning is over, it’s then up to everyone present to decide how to deal with the bully.

Thom S. Ranier, president of LifeWay Christian Resources says another method of dealing with bullies is to, “fight bullying with the power of prayer.” He recommends having a specific group pray for whomever is being targeted by the bully, which is often the pastor or a member of the church staff. It’s also important to pray for the person doing the bullying as well and God would soften their hearts so that they would receive healing for whatever emotional pain is behind the bullying behavior. Ranier also suggests having a unified church staff so that a bully cannot come in and cause division.

One final word of advice when it comes to dealing with church bullies is to make them aware that there are consequences for their actions and to hold them accountable for their behavior.

~ Christian Patriot Daily


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