Hammett bullying-in-the-church-5.29.12-edition


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Great Article from Eddie Hammett & The Columbia Project

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  • Whenever you come to know that your child is being bullied, whether at school or some other place, it is very important for you to take necessary action in this regard. In fact, as a parent, it is your responsibility to teach your children how to tackle the problem. We need to teach our children how to identify a bully and practice them how to deal with bullying, with your child, at home. This will help your child a great deal in combating the fear of facing humiliation and also prepare him/her to face and handle such a situation. Build the self esteem of your child not just through behavior, but also through words.As a parent or caregiver, you can use stories to help your child learn how to respond to bullies in healthy ways.As a way of helping everyone especially the parents, who still find it quite hard to manage issues like this, I found this great application which featured a safety app which gets me connected to a Safety Network or escalate my call to the nearest 911 when needed, it has other cool features that are helpful for your kids with just a press of a Panic Button. #SafekidZone, Check it here: http://bit.ly/1026trz
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Hammett bullying-in-the-church-5.29.12-edition

  1. 1. Bullying in the Church Recognizing it and Stopping It A Travel Free Learning Article By Eddie Hammett Ministry Colleague with The Columbia Partnership Voice: 828.458.8954, E-mail: EHammett@TheColumbiaPartnership.org Website: www.TheColumbiaPartnership.orgBullying is a growing issue in our culture—schools, businesses, organizations, families, and communities.There is also a major problem of bullying in churches and other religious organizations. It often hides inthe shadows of being right, politically right, getting control/power, or this is the way I/we like it done.Church bullies are growing across the country as churches struggle with decline in numbers—attendance,membership, participation, impact, finances and loyalty issues. So often church bullies surface and targetthe pastor and staff, blaming and often falsely accusing their leaders for the decline in their church’smetrics or status. While certainly leaders do bear some of the responsibility. More often than not thesediminishing numbers and impact is a pulpit, pew and cultural issue.How does a pastor, staff, and congregation deal with church bullies who surface and practice pastorbashingi as they work to get their way? Such presents a very tense and fine line for many of my clergycoaching clients these days.How To Recognize Bullying in the ChurchI realize that change is a dirty word for many churches, and that many churches and clergy have little orno training or experience in dealing with the exponential change we find ourselves in these days. Such adeficit raises fears, anxieties and frustration levels when things do not go a preferred or familiar way in achurch.Having coached several thousand hours with clergy, and other church leaders, it is clear to me that pastorbashing and bullying is a critical issue in many churches—regardless of size, type, theology, age ofchurch or median age of the congregation. Church bullies not only do not want to change theirpreferences, but they want to blame others and often falsely accuse in order to protect their preferredways or comfort zone. I have heard of or experienced church bullying in a variety of ways/places in achurch: • A Bible study group of older adults who repeatedly attack the pastor and staff with unjust, brutal, judgmental words accompanied by a spirit of anger, revenge or desire for their way. • A finance or stewardship committee that holds the church purse strings as if the money were in their household family budget. They often control what is or is not permitted by controlling the spending based on their personal preferences rather than the church’s mission or desires. • A very active, engaged lay leader that has his or her hand in everything not just to be a help, but to exercise some control in the way things are done to ensure their preferences are not ignored by others.May 29, 2012 Edition 1 Copyright 2012, Eddie Hammett
  2. 2. • A youth parent or guardian that becomes the mouthpiece for their child or grandchild in order to exercise control by evaluating all others by their personal preferences of parenting styles, disciplinary actions, dress preferences, programming preferences and standards. These parents usually are demanding, vindictive, persevering and filled with anger and revenge. • A deacon body or trustee group that is more committed to their personal preferences or comfort zones than the divine mission for the church. This control is most often exercised in micro- managing pastor and staff, wanting the pastor to be all things to all people and keeping everyone happy. The mission of the church becomes maintenance—by the deacon or trustee’s standards —and very often inhibits the pastor to live into Christ’ call on their lives and the church. • I acknowledge too there are clergy bullies out there who are driven by personal preferences, comfort zones, and often seek to force the church into molds or styles they are professionally more comfortable with rather than contextualizing ministry and facing their own learning curves and challenges.There are several common threads in recognizing bullies in church—hunger for power, control,maintaining their preferences regardless of anyone else’s need or preference – it’s all about them, theirvalues, their preferences and their comfort with little or any desire to align to the corporate mission andvision much less a biblical mandate.Managing Church Bullies and Minimizing Their ImpactChurch bullies like to stir up trouble; they love attention about as much as they like getting their way. Themore attention you give them the more they stir the pot. Of course, when you don’t give them attention itoften initially escalates their anger, determination and vengeance. Very often the bully cannot let go oftheir agenda. It has them at the heart and no one sees it like they do! They truly believe they are doingthe right thing and saving their church. However, more often than not, they have tunnel vision and it’s allabout them.If the church or group plays into their game the bully wins, and very often the pastor, staff, and/or churchloses because the community learns they fight at that church. Bullies create a bad reputation for thechurch, and often people weary of the internal war and conflict leave the church because of the bullycontrol rather the issue the bully is mad about. A group of bullies can destroy a church by theirdetermination to get their way or sway people to their side. They very often really do not care for thepastor, church or community reputation or wounds. It’s all about their agenda!So how do you manage such within a Christian context? How do you deal with such vengeance, anger,self-centeredness and hurt in a redemptive and Christian manner? That is the million dollar question forso many, and many pastors and churches have weakened because they opt to do nothing because theydon’t want to hurt anyone. The truth is the church is allowing one or two, or a small group, to hurt if not killthe spirit and mission of their church in order to preserve someone’s feelings. How long will a church letthe desire of a few condemn or control the future of their church?Some Tips Learned from My Coaching Clients and Personal Experiences • Be prayerful and intentional as the situation, personalities involved are discerned while following principles in Matthew 18. • Invite a neutral outsider to help with the process so decision-making is clear and the bully does not feel an insider has their agenda. • The issue has to be dealt with by the trusted lay leadership who have earned the right to talk and be heard and are willing to step up to the challenge of leadership.May 29, 2012 Edition 2 Copyright 2012, Eddie Hammett
  3. 3. • The clergy are the target and need to enlist and empower the lay leadership to determine next steps and carry out the desires of the congregation. • Go to the bully and face them with perceptions, realities and giving focused opportunity for lay leaders, pastors and staff, if appropriate, to respond to issues asking, “What do you need from me that you are not getting now?” Following this negotiate with lay leadership and congregation if their demands are in line with the congregation’s mission. • Inviting trusted friends and colleagues of the disgruntled bully to become an advocate for furthering conversation, being careful not to get triangulated in the relationship. • Scripturally, there is some support, that if these ideas do not work, then you take it to the congregation. This can be done in some church governance, but depending on a possible pathology of the bully it could become detrimental and destroy, or certainly scar deeply, those involved and the reputation of the congregation in the community at large.To summarize, I share come very helpful insights gleaned from Change or Die by Alan Deutschman.iiDeutschman points out that there are effective and ineffective ways or introducing and managing changein any organization. Typically the 3 F’s are practiced by most bullies in the church. Ineffective ways include what he calls the 3 F’s: FACTS: which assumes people will deal with issues rationally. Bullies force FACTS quoting scripture, tradition and declaring this is the way it is! This approach rarely generates effective change. Facts really do not matter to most – it’s their feelings that matter most! FEARS: that would appeal to emotions. Generally, many facing change go to their fears of losing issues like their familiarity, comfort. Bullies will make threats and stir emotions of distrust, disrespect and anger to preserve their comfort zones. This is reviewed eloquently by Gordon McDonald in Who Stole My Church. FORCE: that is about falling back on moral authority of your positions. Bullies declare, “We have never done it that way before and we are not going to start now!” They often create and circulate petitions, withhold their tithes and participation and enlist their inactive friends to vote to keep things the way they prefer. How often do these F’s show up in the way you or your church responds to or in introducing and managing change? How did that work for you? What were the consequences? Deutschman offers 3 R’s that guide in effective change: More often than not bullies do not choose to practice these effective tools they resort to the ineffective means of derailing or sabotaging change by practicing the 3 F’s and avoiding these 3 R’s at all cost. The 3 R’s provide a possible roadmap for minimizing and maybe diffusing the impact of bullies. RELATE: speaks of building authentic emotional relationships with the individual or groups involved. Spending time in dialogue with those the bullies are against is often avoided or resisted. How can the accused/bullied and the bullies work on this together? What might it look like for each? REPEAT: Regarding change there are usually many little things we need to learn to do differently and repeating the new is a way of building familiarity off of the new desire. When we change the behaviors the feelings do follow as repetition builds familiarity. In all likelihood the bully and theMay 29, 2012 Edition 3 Copyright 2012, Eddie Hammett
  4. 4. bullied will need to learn and practice some new attitudes, behaviors in order to find common ground. What would this look like in your setting? REFRAME: is about changing from the inside out rather than the outside in. This reframing hinges on relationships, sharing each other’s life stories and the reason they have certain preferences and what make the meaningful to them. Such creates greater understanding and often leads to Making Shifts Without Making Wavesiii. How might this be practiced in your context? The Making Shifts book provides coaching models to guide individuals and groups to a point of common ground and mutual respect and understanding.Whether in school, communities, families or churches bullies must be dealt with less the poison they spewnegatively impact forward movement, generates polarization and often fuels a detrimental reputation inthe community. Hopefully these thoughts will at least provide you a tool to begin a dialogue in yourministry context. Let me hear how it goes. This article is an excerpt from a chapter in forthcoming book: Recovering Hope for Church. For additional help from Eddie consider www.50for99.info for a call with Eddie to help you discover and sift through your options.Recommended Reading includes: • The Wounded Pastor by Guy Greenfield • Spiritual Abuse Recovery by Barbara Orlowski • It Only Hurts On Monday by Gary McIntosh • Antagonists in the Church by Kenneth Haugk • www.spiritualabuse.com: Work of Jeff VanVonderan • www.churchexiters.com: The research of Barbara Orlowski Important Things to KnowEddie Hammett is a Ministry Colleague with The Columbia Partnership. He is a certified coach with the International Coach Federation. Recent books of which he is the author or co-author are Reaching People Under 40 WhileKeeping People Over 60, Spiritual Leadership in a Secular Culture, and Making Shifts Without Making Waves.He is available for speaking and coaching with leaders, congregations, denominations and parachurch organizations. His personal website is www.TransformingSolutions.org. His work is also highlighted at www.cbfnc.orgThe Columbia Partnership is a non-profit Christian ministry organization focused on transforming the capacity of theNorth American Church to pursue and sustain Christ-centered ministry. Travel Free Learning is a sharing knowledge emphasis of The Columbia Partnership. For more information about products and services check out the website at www.TheColumbiaPartnership.org , send an email to Client.Care@TheColumbiaPartnership.org, or call 803.622.0923. Subscribe to the Travel Free Learning Articles: Text "TCP" to 22828May 29, 2012 Edition 4 Copyright 2012, Eddie Hammett
  5. 5. i I address this in detail in a chapter in our Reaching People Under 40 While Keeping People Over 60 book.ii Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life by Alan Deutschman, 2007.iii Making Shifts Without Making Waves by Edward Hammett and James Pierce, 2010