The Pastor’s Protection Against Aggressors In The Church

There have been many excellent books written for parishioners of abusive pastors and structures. Books like, “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse,” are excellent in helping laypeople identify spiritually abusive churches and how to respond to these corrupt systems. While pastoral abuse is very real and something to take very serious, I have not seen a plethora of books written about abusive parishioners lashing out towards pastors. Believe it or not, this does exist. I have not only witnessed this in churches but have unfortunately experienced it myself. On my personal blog I have made several postings like, “Church Politics 101,” and “Church Politics, Leadership Conflicts & The Dangers Of Autonomous Church Polity,” in order to address some of the difficulties of deeply embedded oligarchies in the church, as well as identify some of the pitfalls of church politics. While these blog posts are very good, I have yet to come across a really good comprehensive book on the subject.

Well, tonight I was recommended the book, “Pastor Abusers.” Several of my friends that I blog with at “Brothers of John The Steadfast” were visiting about it on Facebook. I just got done reading the first sample chapter and immediately ordered a full copy tonight. Check out the following that has been taken from Kent Crockett’s website:

Pastor Abusers is a survival manual for pastors who are constantly being attacked by critical church members. How can a pastor defend himself? What is going on behind the scenes in the spiritual realm? What are the pastor’s options if he is fired or forced out of the church? The answers are in the 187-page book.

Who are the “Pastor Abusers”?

They are mean-spirited church members whose mission is to attack the pastor and drive him out of the church. In this book you will learn:

  • How Pastor Abusers operate.
  • Why they are determined to bring you down.
  • How to recognize when trouble is brewing.
  • What to do when you’re under attack.
  • Your four options after you leave the church.

Quotes from Abused Pastors

“It was more than I could take when my wife had an emotional breakdown. As I held her in my arms, she cried uncontrollably, sobbing a few words at a time: ‘All we’ve tried to do . . . is love these people . . . and all we get in return . . . is hate.’”

“I went out to my driveway and found a tire on my van had been slashed, as had been a tire on my other car. The same person who had done this had gotten under the hood and removed a relay for the headlights. . . .This group meant business and was determined to get their way.”

“I started getting obscene phone calls in the middle of the night cursing me out. I received hate mail, cursing me and telling me to go to hell. I would get letters in my box telling me that I was a terrible pastor and that I needed to leave.”

While I can’t give a comprehensive review on this book at this point, I do encourage you to check out Kent’s website as well as take an opportunity to read the sample chapter. (Click here for Sample Chapter)

In the upcoming months I will try to do a followup on this post giving a more official book review. In the mean time, enjoy the reading and feel free to drop your feedback on this book in the comment section below.

Note: One note of caution, especially for you fellow pastors. May we be very cautious when reading this subject material. It is easy for us to fall into the victim mentality and thus generate additional drama in our churches and lives. Refer to Karpman’s Drama Triangle HERE to learn more about the different roles and situations that ‘fuel’ conflict and drama.

To Learn More On This Subject:
Antagonists in the Church

About Pastor Matt Richard

Rev. Dr. Matthew Richard is the pastor at Zion Lutheran Church of Gwinner, ND. He was previously a Senior Pastor in Sidney, Montana, an Associate Pastor of Spiritual Care and Youth Ministries in Williston, North Dakota, and an Associate Pastor of Children and Youth in Rancho Cucamonga, California. He received his undergraduate degree from Minot State University, ND and his M.Div. from Lutheran Brethren Seminary, MN. His doctor of ministry thesis, from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO, was on exploring the journey of American Evangelicals into Confessional Lutheran thought. Pastor Richard is married to Serenity and they have two children. He enjoys fishing, pheasant hunting, watching movies, blogging, golfing, spending time with his family and a good book with a warm latte! To check out more articles by Pastor Matt you can visit his personal blog at:


The Pastor’s Protection Against Aggressors In The Church — 18 Comments

  1. The classic book written on this topic is “Clergy Killers.” It was authored by G. Lloyd Rediger in 1997 and became an instant best-seller. The publisher is Westminster John Knox Press. Rediger is a well-known Presbyterian pastor, seminar leader and consultant on this subject.

    He sees this spiritual warfare in the parish as something centered on the pastor’s spiritual authority which a small group of laity sometimes challenge. He has an extensive list of parish problems which can bring a pastor down.

  2. Pastor, that’s a good find. Another book I found helpful dealing with church politics is “Antagonists in the Church” by Ken Haugk. Some of you may know Dr. Haugk as the founder of the Stephen Ministries.

  3. As far as Lutheran LCMS ministers are concerned, one must ask himself categorically if he really does have a call to the Ministry and there are certain biblical truths that can be applied to the man considering such a call as well as the advice of true spiritual men with great experience in the church as ministers and the priests of the church, (laymen).

    As well, one must consider if the wife or wife to be has the call to be a ministers wife, with all the attendant in and outs of such as the New Testament mentions.

    Pastor Abusers are always a theological problem as this is the driving force of all sin in the church, which is impenitence.

    There are instances where Christ just does not win, in that not all are saved and hell is there for a reason. Not all repent and fall on the grace of Christ for salvation and a minister must realize this as he contemplates his ministry, some difficulties in the congregation can only be resolved by death.

    This spiritual warfare is no joke, as the prince of the power of the air prowls around to spy out whom he may devour.

    The work righteousness saints hate the message of the unmitigated freedom of the gospel in the Pastors sermons and studies and will do all to terminate this message which the devil crucified Christ over.

  4. @Dave Likeness #1 — I, too, was going to recommend
    “Clergy Killers” for pastors who are going through clergy abuse, for circuit counselors who are seeing the pastors in their circuit being abused, and also for faithful lay leaders who are enduring such abuse from individuals in their churches. The more people know about this sin, the better they can rightly divide Law and Gospel and bring all people to a proper understanding of the correct roles of the pastor and the layperson.

    Thank you, Matt, for sharing your title, and also @Chris Enge #2 as well. These are difficult times for the faithful in the Lord.

  5. Pastor Richard,
    With all the utmost humilty, respect & love, I as a sheep, don’t want to hear any of this from a book. I want to hear this from a Shepherd.

    As I am willing to wage in it’s way, your brothers in the Office, would hear from those who hold It.

    Books abound, papers, & studies abound. I & those in your pens, long to hear from ya’ll, as your brother’s long to hear that same message, from those who are counted & held to account as under Shepherds. We, none of us, need to a book, to tell us what our Father & His Son, already plainly, mercifully, & lovingly already said.

    If the one occurs, odds are, the other follows or preceeds.

  6. @Dave Likeness #1
    Thank you for reminding me of this book (“Clergy Killers”). I had it on my shelf already and should take a new look at it (although I also appreciate the recommendation of the other book and will seriously consider it as well.) Many of us could tell stories of abuse and survival in the ministry. Some of us are veterans with many internal scars. My heart always goes out to those pastors who are attacked and brought down by members who cannot see their own deeply unchristian conduct and disrespect.

  7. @Dutch #5
    Pastor Richard,
    With all the utmost humilty, respect & love, I as a sheep, don’t want to hear any of this from a book. I want to hear this from a Shepherd.

    Dutch, I don’t know Pr. Richard, but if one commenter told you this, some officious person would say that, (although he is ordained and on the roster), he is not a “Shepherd” because he doesn’t currently have a congregation.
    [That he is qualified but confessional (and so doesn’t get on the DP’s list) is apparently irrelevant. I wonder what Luther would say about such shennigans! Something I’d have to take off this list, no doubt!]

  8. I use it feel sorry for poor old Baptist preachers who had to get their contract renewed every few years or they were canned. And for the Roman Catholic priest who was told it was time to go to another parish and had no choice. Not fully congregational, not hierarchical our good old grandfather’s church. That is, until you factor in the power of the Council of Presidents, District Offices, and their financial side kicks, LCEF and Thrivent representatives. Not to mention LCMS Foundation, CTCR reports, CPH and CHP. Taken all together it is a ponderous system. Thanks be to God the power unto salvation is not in the above, but rather through the preaching of Christ, Baptism, Sacrament of the Altar. Foolishness to the Yankee Stadium world. To us who are being saved, however, it is foundational, the true treasure of the kingdom, the forgiveness of sins through the work and merit of Christ Jesus.

  9. The United Methodist denomination operates under a contract
    system with their pastors. Usually the contract is for 3 years
    and can be renewed by mutual agreement of the bishop and
    the pastor. Obviously, the bishop holds the trump card even if
    the pastor wants to remain. It is expected that the pastor
    will take into consideration the consensus of the parish.

    Sometimes Methodist or Roman Catholic laity have a hard time
    understanding the Divine Call procedure of the LCMS. To
    grasp the idea that the call of a Lutheran pastor has no
    expiration date throws them for a loop. The world looks at
    pastors as just another occupation, while God looks at pastors
    as His spokesmen to share Word and Sacrament to a parish
    that He has called them for His purposes.

  10. @Dave Likeness #9
    To grasp the idea that the call of a Lutheran pastor has no
    expiration date throws them for a loop. The world looks at
    pastors as just another occupation, …

    The “world” is firmly entrenched in the LCMESS bureaucracy.
    Or have you noticed?

  11. Hi Helen:

    I served as a Circuit Counselor for 13 years in the LCMS and
    have been involved in the call process of various parishes.
    One of the things I noticed is that the calling parish often
    has unrealistic expectations when compiling a call list.
    They expect to call an outstanding preacher, an excellent
    teacher, a dynamic evangelist, first rate administrator, and
    the list goes on.

    The truth is there is no perfect pastor and there is no perfect
    parish. By God’s grace we are forgiven sinners in His Church.
    If a pastor is Christ-centered, Biblically-based, Confessionally-
    grounded, then you probably will get a humble servant and
    energetic shepherd to lead your flock..

  12. It’s good to see something more current — and Lutheran. I’ve found “Antagonists in the Church” by Kenneth Haugk helpful, but it was published in the ’80s and you had to pick around the bones.

    “Antagonism exists in the church. It leaves in its wake broken lives: people who are hurt, discouraged, and apathetic. Although only a very few persons are antagonists, these individuals have the potential to disrupt and even destroy a congregation’s mission and ministry. In this balanced and practical book, Kenneth Haugk shows how congregational leaders can learn to prevent or reduce much of the pain and suffering caused by antagonism; tell the difference between constructive, healthy conflict and destructive antagonism; and cope with antagonism when it arises.”

  13. CONSTRUCTIVE criticism is when you attack the ISSUE and seek to
    resolve the issue in a healthy manner.

    DESTRUCTIVE antagonism is when you attack the PERSON and
    seek to destroy and demean him or her.

    A healthy parish will welcome constructive criticism and the various
    boards and church council will deal with it in a Christian manner.
    An unhealthy parish is filled with destructive antagonism and when
    it is aimed at the pastor there will be disruption of congregational

  14. It’s good to see that there are some authors at least working to shed light on this epidemic. I know abused pastors and the damage done to them and their families is real.

    The call process, or at least the synod politics that unfortunately end up governing it, does not help. It is true what the author says about “fired pastors”. Congregations see that they are not currently serving a congregation and don’t consider them.

    It’s a terrible reality. Lord have mercy.

  15. what kind of support are these faithful shepherds and families receiving from Districts and synods,if any? do leaders just run and hide and continue with the “milktoast”/expediency?

  16. @ralph luedtke #16
    is the bureauacracy part of the problems?

    Where the “bureaucracy” is PLI trained and willowcreek/saddleback oriented, I would say yes.
    Their goal is “entertainment” church, (generic protestant, to please people who aren’t coming) and the safety of a confessional liturgical Lutheran congregation & Pastor, when that is in the district office, you can judge from ULC and MN So.

    By no means the only victim, but one with friends to make a noise at least!

  17. learn and act and stand-before this falls on many more faithful due to spinelessness-with Scripture,clean up the the polity that is useless w/o HIS principles and truth

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.