The church is a place of kindness, happiness, community and inspiration. What happens when all that changes and church people become toxic?
Sadly, it does happen. This is especially true as some members move on to other churches or leave the church completely.
It’s important to understand the causes and signs to prevent the toxic attitudes of the few from infecting your entire church family.
Ensure It’s Not Leadership
Sometimes church people become toxic because the follow the example of toxic leaders. Other members may leave to avoid the effect of other toxic members in the church. It’s fairly easy to recognize toxic church leaders. They tend to manipulate and use others. They dismiss versus building up members. It’s all about them versus the church. If you notice any toxic symptoms in your leaders, address the issue before it affects the entire church.
It’s Hard To Let Go
Pettiness, greed and jealousy all lead to toxic members. For instance, a member may want desperately to lead, but just isn’t quite ready for that role. When they’re denied, they get angry and hold a grudge. Instead of working to build their skills and help others, they develop a toxic attitude and seek to tear others down. Their only mission is to hurt those who denied them and whoever may have gotten what they wanted.
When telling someone no, try to provide a legitimate reason that will help them grow. This often aids them and prevents anyone’s feelings from being hurt.
People Miss Their Friends
Church communities are families. It’s always hard to leave your family behind. If members left because they were angry or didn’t like recent changes in the church, they may develop a toxic attitude. It gets even worse when they leave and their friends don’t come along too.
When church people become toxic and leave the church, they try to get others to come with them. They still crave that community, but don’t want to come back. They might try to go to another church or become one of the unchurched. Either way, they hate losing their friends.
They may cause your members to start doubting whether they belong in your church or not. They even start to share the same grievances that caused the one toxic member to leave. It’s important to remind your members to beware of ex-members who may try to pull them away from the church.
Toxic From The Start
Some church people become toxic because they’ve always been that way. From the moment they join, they’re into everyone’s business. They feel their opinion is the only one that matters. Plus, they simply love being the center of attention all the time. Odds are, you’ll discover whether a person is toxic or not from the moment you meet them.
With the right support and love of your church family, it’s possible to change the way toxic members think. However, be careful not to let one toxic member turn the rest of the church toxic too.
Forget The Real Reason For Church
You might notice church people become toxic when they forget the real reason for church. They should be a part of the family for fellowship, to help others and of course, to better understand God’s word. Instead, members sometimes get caught up in being part of cliques, gossiping, trying to one-up other members and turning the church into what they think it should be.
Getting caught up in the superficial does happen. It’s also the path to toxicity for members. They become cynical and don’t support each other. It’s not uncommon for those members to leave and try and take others with them. If you notice any members who seem to have forgotten why they’re part of the church family, talk to them. They may be going through something difficult and need the support.
Want to help your church family maintain a positive, uplifting attitude? Start by blogging regularly with encouraging words on your church’s website.