The Self Immolation of Christian Leadership: Is this a macro issue?

Temple 2012 burn 1This morning a Facebook discussion brought up a comment from Doug Murren (a fellow pastor in my previous denomination). In speaking about abusive behavior in leadership positions in Christianity, Doug said, “this has become a macro issue in the church,” and commented on the need to speak to this issue by every means possible.

My contention, in the ongoing development of Burning Religion, is that there is an unbridgeable gap between religion and much of society. God has been co-opted by the worst of behaviors in religious circles, and Christianity (and most other religions) are suffering because of it.

Do you think Christianity is suffering from leadership abuse, and is this a macro-issue in the church? If so, what is going on that Christians should be so prone to the temptation of putting up with the worst of behavior in leaders, and justify it with the sentiment that the message from the pulpit is more important than the behavior behind the pulpit? If this is a macro issue, then it may be as I contend that the church is burning itself down from the inside, and our society is watching the process with a combination of laughter (like the late Christopher Hitchens), and horror and wonder (like Slavoj Zizek). Perhaps even we in the church are struggling with a cognitive dissonance over these issues.

In the last month, I sat with a group of people who have been burned by church experiences, and one woman even described a PTSD response to attending church – screaming uncontrollably and having to return home while on the way to visit a church. What do you think? Has a leadership dearth become a macro issue in the church? Is this something demanding a rising chorus of voices as Dougm and a number of my friends in ministry suggest? Is a self immolation of Christian leadership occurring?

photo by Kevin Rolly

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