I’ve previously mentioned Barb Orlowski’s research among people who have left institutional church — there’s still time to participate in a brief confidential survey, and she’s doing a final call for assistance in her study. Noteworthy in this connection is a story on her work in the Winnipeg Free Press with some introductory material on spiritual abuse.
While we’re on the subject of the institutional church and the fallout therefrom, I’m dusting off my keyboard and declaring next week (Feb. 4-8) “Pagan Week” here at Subversive Influence. Monday through Thursday I’ll be blogging through Frank Viola and George Barna’s Pagan Christianity… the series is mostly written now, and you’ll want to tune in and follow along. Following the four days of blogging through the book, I’ll be doing an interview with Frank Viola and posting that on Friday. Lots of discussion fodder for certain!
looking fwd to Pagan Week
glad to see your post on Barb Orlowski’s doctoral research work. i did her survey and, since I had undergone three clear and extreme situations of spiritual abuse/toxic church in the last 35 years, it took over a week to complete and ended up 16 pages single space. with 15 questions that had to be answered three times each, and 5 questions on the “so what’s” of the first 15, it was grueling … but actually quite helpful in making me set aside time to reflect on the flow of experiences.
the most surprising thing that came out of this doing the survey was my response to Barb’s question on what criteria i now use for discerning whether to get involved with a congregation or not. #1 on my list in the old days would have been theological similarity. after processing my own history and New Testament scriptures on authority and trustable leadership, my key criteria are:
1. Healthy governance structure with a reasonable dynamic tension between clarity and flexibility – not authoritarian CEO-manager-with-no-accountability, AND not the chaos of anti-authority either. (the idea that “flat” authority structures automatically rid the church of toxicity is a gigantic fib!).
2. How the group deals with diversity, culture clash, and conflict resolution. There is a difference between unity and uniformity.
3. There is sustainable qualitative growth where individuals and the group as a whole is on a trajectory toward Christlikeness.
4. The fellowship has a track record of church discipline conducted in a biblical manner for restorative purposes (or willingness to take this approach). Discipline is not misused as a tool for punishment, nor is it avoided when needed in extreme situations to protect the flock.
5. Theological similarity.
the toxic church situations i’ve endured have not been easy. however, God used them ultimately for redemptive purposes. i wonder if i would be as passionate about helping discern the sources and blockages for healthy, sustainable congregational life if i hadn’t survived some truly miserable experiences … plus enjoyed the wonderful and transformative experiences i’ve found in a few healthy churches.
anyway, looking forward to seeing the results of Barb’s research, and glad she’s helping raise the issue of recovery from spiritual abuse.
meanwhile, see yuh at Pagan Week. ummm … will there be a potluck involved?
Hi Brother Maynard,
Didn’t have a way to email you so here’s my good news.
I am delighted to tell you that my Book Proposal has been accepted by a publisher and that I hope to be signing a contract with them in the next week or two. I am thankful for this further opportunity of making my doctoral research available to a wider audience.
This will affect the availability of my dissertation on my Church Exiters website: http://www.churchexiters.com. The full dissertation will no longer be available online. I will be able to leave excerpts and point people to the book but access to the entire dissertation will soon come to an end.
I am wondering if you could post the fact that Dr. Barb will be publishing soon and that her entire dissertation online will shortly be no longer available.
Thanks for your continued help in this Kingdom venture.
Dr. Barb Orlowski