“The disrupter is just that: He disrupts the unity of the church. He disrupts the outward focus of the church.”
He is in almost every church. In fact, the “he” may be a “she,” but I’ll use the masculine pronoun for simplicity.
He is the church disrupter. Unlike church bullies, the disrupter rarely attacks leaders directly. He is good at stirring up dissension, but he seems to always feel like “God led me to do it.” He can have a gregarious and pleasant personality (unlike the typical church bully), and can thus attract a following for a season.
The disrupter is just that: He disrupts the unity of the church. He disrupts the outward focus of the church. And he disrupts the plans of church leadership. So, what are some key traits to watch in church disrupters? Here are six:
1. He often seeks positions in the church so he can get attention.
So be wary if he asks to lead the student group or the praise team or become chairman of the finance committee. He loves to exert his negative influence through key and visible positions.
2. He often votes “no” in business meetings.
Again, this tactic is yet another attempt to get attention.
3. He loves to say, “People are saying …”
He wants you to think his issue is more widespread than it really is. Another approach is, “If we had a secret ballot vote, there would be a lot more dissenters.”
4. He tries to get followers at the church for his cause of the moment.
That is another reason he seeks positions of influence in the church.
5. He often assures the pastor and other church leaders how much he loves them and supports them.
And then he goes and stabs them in the back.
6. He loves to use “facts” loosely for his case or cause.
Accuracy is neither required nor expected.
So how should pastors and other church leaders address the problem of church disrupters? Allow me to suggest a few ideas.
- Determine you will love them as Christ loves you and them. It’s tough, but it can be done in Christ’s strength.
- Pray for them. Seriously.
- Be on the watch for them. They can be manipulative and deceptive. They can cause chaos before you see it coming.
- Get other leaders to help you address the disrupters and their disruption. But, be aware, they will be shocked you perceive them that way.
- As soon as possible, get them out of key leadership positions. They are a problem now, but they can become toxic later.
I have my theories on why church disrupters act the way they do, but that is a topic for another post. In the meantime, be wary of church disrupters. But love them and pray for them anyway.
That is the way Christ would respond.
Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter (@ThomRainer) and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer. This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on Aug. 28, 2017.