Church Trouble!!!??? -- Part One

Characteristics of Clergy-Killers

Some have recently mentioned to me about my sore neglect of the Barnabas Blog. Admittedly, it has been neglected over the past month because I have been distracted with the antics of the inane (that is a place somewhere between North, South, East, and West). I am going to try to resolve to do better here in the next several weeks and put some things on this blog that might (or might not) be beneficial to you. My philosophy for all that I preach, teach, or write: Use what you can and delete what you can’t. In other words, if the shoe fits. . . wear it!

After you read this blog and discover its theme perhaps you will return again to read other portions in this grain. I intend on writing on this particular trend of thought for several days as the thoughts come to me.

I have just returned from spending a couple of days working at the Alabama District UPC campground. Every year there is a work week that is designated for a number of projects to be completed prior to the summer youth and family camps. I ended up moving some heavy earth (with a shovel) for a concrete sidewalk to be poured. I was in charge of a gopher committee for some serious electricians who knew what they were doing. I spent a morning with the famous pastor, Hugh Twyman, who is always full of laughter and is good for my spirit. We worked together on some other minor maintenance projects to help get things ready for the camps.

While I was there I spent a significant amount of time with several other pastors and ministers from around the state. There are many positive things that are occurring in our state in the way of revival and church growth. By the same token, I am coming to understand that our day is one of the most difficult times to try to shepherd a church. The bottom line is that there is much spiritual warfare that is opposing the work of God.

As I pondered some of these situations that pastors are struggling with these days, I am coming to understand that unless there is a constant state of revival, our churches will not be able to withstand the onslaught of wickedness and evil. The necessity of a revival atmosphere demands a constant walk in the Spirit. Furthermore, it places a huge premium on prayer, fasting, and true ministry of the Word by those who are involved in ministry.

The “spirit of the age” has infected many good people who have become nothing more than pawns in the hands of the enemy. Some are aware of this position they have come to rest in and seem to revel in keeping congregations in a state of unrest and disharmony. Seeds of discord are sown, authority is challenged, rebellion is fostered, and innuendo is left to run its course from half-truths that are left hanging in the minds of the innocent listeners. Questions that encourage strife are asked. I might add that there is a reward that will come to those who are constantly involving themselves in the things that God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). Curiously those who are working this angle have been doing so for years and most likely will never change.

On a side note, you owe it to yourself to spend some time and listen entirely to this message by J. T. Pugh on Authority. It is quite eye opening if your spirit is receptive to it. Over and over, Brother Pugh states that one can be standing in unity with God in doctrine and be standing in principle with Satan. Stated in another way: You can love God and be working for the devil.

There are others who have no idea that they are being used by the enemy to destroy the spiritual atmosphere of a church. The majority of pastors in these days find themselves in situations where a constant challenge faces them from pews of the churches where they are trying to serve. Every minister understands the gravity of his calling and knows that the attack from the enemy will come from the outside.

However, when the talons of evil places it grip on the minds of those within the church, these people become just as susceptible as did Saul to the evil spirit that will troubled his minds. When this spirit came over Saul, he did his best to destroy everything within reach. Only David’s harp could calm this raging beast. What comfort came was only temporary in measure because the problem was not external, it was internal. An external song could not remedy an internal problem of the soul. A good service, a moving song, or a challenging (even comforting) sermon is only a temporary measure to change some things. The only real change that will come to a person’s life is when the internal portion of the soul is changed. That is something that only God can change.

As I contemplated some of the horror stories that I had heard in the last couple of days and even some that have accumulated over the last few months, I remembered a book that I had read some months ago about churches in conflict. The conflict billowed up to the point that it destroyed the pastors who were trying to navigate through it.

Satan is quite aware that if he can cause a pastor to give up, it compromises the whole direction and vision of the church. Generally, he uses these “clergy-killers” to upend the church.

Guy Greenfield in his book, The Wounded Minister, gives the following eight points about “clergy-killers” (pp. 27-30):

1. They are destructive. The damage they want to inflict is intentional and deliberate. Their tactics include sabotage, subverting worthy causes, inciting others to do their dirty work, and causing victims to self-destruct.”

2. Clergy killers are determined. They are headstrong and willing to stop at nothing. They may pause for a time, change strategies, even go underground to reconnoiter, but they will come back with a vengeance to continue their intimidation, networking, and breaking all rules of decency to accomplish their destructive objectives.

3. These persons are deceitful. Clergy killers are masters of manipulation, camouflage, misrepresentation, and accusing others of their atrocious deeds. Their comments and promises are not trustworthy. They are experts at twisting the facts. (I have also found that in some of these cases that they are living in outright sin and open rebellion toward God.)

4. Clergy killers are demonic. Apparently clergy killers carry around a lot of internal pain, confusion, anger, and even rage. Spiritual leaders, especially employed parish ministers, become available scapegoats for this pain and confusion, which is unidentified and untreated. Unusual, reactive, and destructive motivations emerge in these disturbed minds. A serious mistake is made when the church and popular culture reject the concept of evil and label clergy-killer behavior as mental illness or human failure. A loss of spiritual understanding of intentional meanness and destruction leaves the church unable to avail itself of the powerful spiritual gifts of discernment, grace, discipline, and courage to confront evil with God’s power. (This is why that a pastor must be filled with the Holy Ghost and open to hear the voice of God. The gifts of the Spirit can be very active in the life of a Spirit-filled pastor who is fasting and praying and willing to confront the evil with the Spirit of God as his ally. We accomplish far more in praying against these evil spirits than trying to reason with the individual. Prayer Works!!!!)

5. Denial on the part of the church leaves clergy-killers unrestrained, so that the whole church in general and ministers in particular are left extremely vulnerable to their wiles. The church tends to deny the seriousness of what clergy killers are about and thus unknowingly cooperates in their agenda of destruction.

6. Clergy-killers are masters of intimidation, using it to violate the rules of decency and caring that most Christians try to follow. Intimidation is a powerful weapon at a subconscious level, so much so that clergy killers are willing to step up the fight and use tactics that most Christians forbid themselves to use. Actually most clergy are naïve when it comes to survival fighting, or what might be called “ecclesiastical street fighting.” They do not have the required resources and knowledge of networks in the church for such confrontations. Therefore ministers and their supporters are easily intimidated by these persuasive and charming religious assailants.

7. Clergy-killers are experts of disguise when they see it would be to their advantage. They are able to present themselves as pious, devout, and spiritual church members who are doing their destructive work “for the good of the church, to advance God’s kingdom.” They can convince naïve church members that they are raising legitimate issues. These religious monsters often hide among their “allies of opportunity,” those members whom they have charmed into friendship—who are also congregational power brokers—and others who are disgruntled with the church for one reason or another.

8. Some clergy-killers may not choose the strategy of disguising themselves. Rather, they choose to find power in fighting openly. Using bluster, threats, and accusations, they forge ahead with their attacks as if they are unstoppable giants. They openly intimidate any opposition by making it clear they will fight dirty and use any tactic to accomplish their goals. Gentle and peace at-any-price church members are quickly sidelined by such threats, leaving the ministers and those who support them to cope with the problem the best way they can. Denominational officials can easily fall into this latter category of appeasement, influenced by their desire not to lose the financial support of the congregation whose minister is under fire.

Some concluding thoughts for this entry:

  • Today I sincerely prayed for all of those of you that I know personally who are involved in the fight of your life—trying to get a church ready for heaven. Some names I called out individually and some I called out by the group you are in (i.e. UPCPastors_helper or Wordshare). I prayed that God would encourage you in the fight and bring peace to your situation.
  • For those who are members of a church, I prayed that God would give you the gift of discernment and that you would be able to see through the half-truths and innuendo of those destructive voices.
  • I also prayed that the power of conviction would sweep over those who are involved in the tearing down of a church and that they would have a change in their heart. But having been around the Church my entire life, I prayed that those who refused to change their stubborn ways that God would deal with them in measure to remove them from hindering the progress of the Kingdom.

I will pick up with some further thoughts on this matter in the near future. . . .


Anonymous said…
Bro Harrelson,

Your posts and sermons in the past have been a big help to me but this one is amazing. I am most definately going to have to get a copy of the book you referenced!

God Bless
Anonymous said…
You have outdone yourself again, Bro. PH. Thank you for this timely message. I am going to email a few minister friends this link because I believe it will be a benefit to them. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us!

Kirk VanOoteghem
Anonymous said…
Bro. Harrelson,
Your blog once again contains considerable substance; a lot to think about. Keep up the good work and keep us thinking!

Jon Foster

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