Mob (Bully) Proof Congregations….
- Establish clear vision, mission and values.
- Raise widespread awareness within the church about what mobbing (bullying) looks like and the real threat that it is to the targeted individuals health (emotional, physical, spiritual, relational), career, family and social relationships and its impact on church communities. This includes clear biblical teaching on gossip, divisiveness and what a healthy church body looks like.
- Develop anti-mobbing policies and train all leaders in the identification and management of mobbing (bullying).
- Develop and utilize effective strategies for conflict resolution – Matthew 18 process of conflict resolution including removing people from the church when necessary
- Provide training to develop the skills of active listening, conflict resolution and confrontational skills in those in leadership positions.
- Develop membership covenants that include unacceptable behaviours. Clearly spell out bullying and mobbing behaviours in the covenant. Ensure there is a process in place to deal with those who display these behaviours.
- Stop all innuendo, rumors and accusations immediately and call into account those who are involved
- Document meetings and conversations without prejudice
- Educate the entire congregation to recognize and name divisive behaviours
- Enact ground rules for meetings (no public job evaluations, no speaking for others, show respect for others (attitudes, tone of voice, etc.) and make use of ‘Mulligans’ – You get one do over at the discretion of the chairperson.
- Train and utilize 2 or 3 watchmen in the congregation who are on the lookout for potential bullies. (Ezekiel 33) At least one should be on the leadership team.
Augustine Monk Legend
A popular legend claims that the Rule of St Benedict contains the following passage:
If any pilgrim monk comes from distant parts, with wish to dwell as a guest in the monastery, and will be content with the customs which he finds in the place, and does not perchance by his lavishness disturb the monastery, but is simply content with what he finds: he shall be received, for as long a time as he desires.
If, indeed, he finds fault with anything, or exposes it, reasonably, and with the humility of charity, the Abbot shall discuss it prudently, lest perchance God had sent him for this very thing.
But if he has been found gossipy and contumacious in the time of his sojourn as guest, not only ought he not to be joined to the body of the monastery, but also it shall be said to him, honestly, that he must depart. If he does not go, let two stout monks, in the name of God, explain the matter to him.
(Wikipedia, rule of St Benedict)
Character Qualities of a Watchman
- Known and well respected. They have earned credibility.
- Emotionally and spiritually mature
- Filled with wisdom
- Familiar with the characteristics and dynamics of mobbing (bullying)
- Discerning spirit and mind
- Fact finder –willing to look at the detail of what has happened or been said
- Responds rather than reacts
- Good conflict management and biblical confrontation skills
- Not distracted from mission
- Understands church health
- Clear communicator
- Understands and believes in the local church
What if the bully is the Pastor? In my case a young lad – Calvinist, not trained, not ordained but with high up contact within his organisation. I was dismissed by a fraudulent letter by this person. I was the first but now most of the original congregation go elsewhere. But, due to a church split elsewhere, newcomers gave the bully a power base which he has used to outvote any wish from the origionals.
Now the church is ion finical crises and the bully is badgering the oldies that if they do not increase their giving then they are not really proper Christians. Is there ably legal action that is available to stop this abomination?
I am so sorry to hear that this has happened to you and other members of the congregation. This is such an unfortunate situation. Without knowing the details of the situation I cannot advise re legal action. What is most important is to learn to recognize the signs of a bully, find a healthy church to be part of and and focus on your relationship with God.