This is an overview of what is best described as "Bullying" of a Christian church's people by those who the apostle Paul directed to NOT "Lord it over" the people.
What may surprise you is how widely this happens in churches. Particularly churches where those ruling the "plebs" - the ordinary people in the congregation who provide the money to run the church - give strict orders about what books to read, what music to listen to (in church and at home), what DVDs to watch (and watch them in church), what guest preachers are hired, and so on. All sounds a bit autocratic, doesn't it...
Actually you might be very surprised at how many churches operate under what can be called the "Our Way Church" MO (Modus Operandi - or way of working). I'll look deeper into this and a particular case history as we go down the page.
Several years ago, I actually put just a few examples into a directory on this website, and there's a link to them further down the page.
Because this seems unbelievable to most people, let me explain that the strip or bar to the left shows a google search window for "Battered Sheep", reduced in size so that you can still just read it. This is here to show you that a genuine google search will produce the information to the left. Click on the image and a full size search window (just the first page of maybe ten)
This is no alarmist figment of this webmaster's imagination. He has encountered it himself, and so has his wife who was absolutely desolated by the destruction of the trust she had in those in ministry, the way it built up progressively over maybe eighteen months, and with with no let-up by the people concerned.
Click here and an enlarged image will open in a new window.
The first page I actually found used the acronym OWC for the fictitious "Our Way Church" the author described made me realise just how appropriate it was. Yes, it was fictitious, because, surprisingly, the author of the page didn't want to hurt the people involved (and nor do I with the one I am describing). He described an anonymous group of people, as do I, in their behaviour which is tantamount to old-fashioned bullying, with the "I am right and you are wrong" mindset that cannot be sidestepped with reason, or even facts, and the best of will by the people being bullied, who were bullied purely because the oversight was able to do so. For fear of what? For fear of being labelled "Trouble-makers" (which feedback said they now were).
Originally I created a small website warning people of the agenda presented by an itinerant preacher/speaker in the near countryside to the capital city in which I lived. This speaker had an agenda that is held in part by many people, because they have not a grasp of actual documented history, but are prepared to believe whatever is proclaimed from the podium as factual truth. As tensions built over other issues, it was discovered by phoning head office that the person concerned was not accredited to preach by anyone. Undoubtedly, leaving out the speaker's agenda, their knowledge may well have been worth listening to.
Their agenda had rewritten world war two history, and it's aftermath, with accusations from the pulpit of the "bad way" in which one of the victor nations had behaved. This was developed in a few minutes some ten minutes in.
Over the intervening months there were a bunch of strange decisions made by the church leadership ("whose silence was deafening"), which defied any claim that the congregation was the church, and the management were elected by them.
All attempts to resolve each new set of problems presented, were dismissed summarily by the "Our Way Church" we had discovered we were actually part of, culminating in the unbelievable behaviour of those running the annual meeting of the congregation where despite cautions from the floor, it was closed as they believed that because they were "autonomous", they could do precisely what they liked, regardless of common sense.
Autonomous apparently also extends to national safety rules which apply to buildings and their electrical cables are subject to. It extends to locating trading tables in front of emergency exits, and obstructing exit routes in the event of a fire, all in the name of a few extra dollars' profit.
It extends to placing electrical cooking appliances on a table in the carpark, barely covered by a marquee, with electricity fed through an upstairs window, despite there being a broken power point around the corner that could and should have been repaired.
It extends to it being permissable for an elder to be rude to a congregant whose opinion they chose to not wish to hear, or to refuse to shake their hand because the congregant was considered too dumb to understand, being told "You have to learn". Sigh.
If the problem were resticted to plain "right" and "wrong" of scripture, then "autonomous" isn't so bad. But we saw earlier that with the bodgy teachings of a guest speaker who "has a teaching ministry" renting space in another church in another denomination, they can't claim that sort of "autonomy" which riddled the Campbellites with dissent and parting company, and joining other dissenting groups, almost ad nauseam. No, they aren't one of the "major cults" - but they need to be defined as a cult, because like all cults, they embrace the philosophy of "The Bellman" in Lewis Carroll's "The Hunting of the Snark" - whose credo is "What I tell you three times is true".
Beware the Jaberwock", my friend.