3 Ways to Deal with Church Bullies

3 Ways to Deal with Church Bullies

Bullies are the worst. When I see a kid being picked on by a bully, I barge in and confront the punk—even if it’s at the Chick-fil-a playground. (Yes, I really did confront a bully in the playground.)

Church bullies are just as sinister. I can’t stand it.

Church bullies love to force their opinions on others. They want their ideas turned into laws. They want to coerce others into their own image, instead of seeing Christians transformed into the image of Christ.

Church bullies overtly and covertly spread their legalistic propaganda that if you really loved Jesus and cared about holiness—if you wanted to level up your life in Christ—you would:

  • Homeschool your kids
  • Not drink alcohol
  • Cancel your Netflix
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Boycott ___ 
  • Read this author
  • Believe this obscure doctrine
  • On, and on, and on

So what do we do with church bullies? Gently teach them the truth, “Instructing his opponents with gentleness” (2 Timothy 2:25). But what if that doesn’t work? 

Ignore the Teaching of Church Bullies

Just ignore them. Don’t submit to them. Don’t feel an ounce of pressure from them. Let their legalism bounce off your heart and mind like a bouncy ball on a brick wall. It ain’t getting through. Bye.

Paul tells the Colossian Christians to ignore the tactics of the corrupt teachers, bullies, and legalists that were out to get them.

“Don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day.” 

Colossians 2:16

These bullies are bringing up hold-overs from Judaism, judging the Colossians for not participating in these things. “If you really cared about Jesus you wouldn’t eat pork, you’d do these festivals, etc.” But Christ has fulfilled the true meaning of these things. And Christians have Christ (Colossians 1:17). We aren’t lacking anything before God in Christ.

Paul says, ignore the bullies. Stand against them. Christ has canceled the record of debt that stood against you; church bullies have nothing on you (Colossians 2:15).

A respected man in our community, once a part of our church, came into my office and “suggested” we come up with an alcohol policy for church staff—one that allowed them to drink alcohol, but not in the church’s zip code. Creative. Crafty. Unchristian. 

Paul says, “Why do you submit to regulations: ‘Don’t handle, don’t taste, don’t touch’?” (Colossians 2:20–21). Point? Sola Scriptura. Legalists wish they were the Pope. Christ is Lord.

Church bullies love to add to God’s law, couching it in terms of applying wisdom. “You wanna do what’s best, right? You can either do what’s good, better, or best. Seems like homeschooling is best. Don’t you want what’s best?” Paul cuts through their garbage. Bully Bible sounds kinda-sorta right, but it isn’t of any value in changing your life.

“Although these have a reputation for wisdom by promoting self-made religion, false humility, and severe treatment of the body, they are not of any value in curbing self-indulgence.” 

Colossians 2:22–23

They got nothing. Bye.

Ignore the Spirituality of Church Bullies

If bullies can’t make you feel bad with their teaching, they will try and get you with their testimony. They will tell you about their works, they will tell you about their Bible reading, their “experience”—not to encourage you. All to rub your face in it. To shame you.

Paul says, Don’t let it phase you. They can’t condemn you. You are in Christ. They are full of hot air.

“Let no one condemn you by delighting in ascetic practices and the worship of angels, claiming access to a visionary realm. Such people are inflated by empty notions of their unspiritual mind.” 

Colossians 2:18

Look to Christ

Church bullies will say horrible things, all while smiling. Look past them. Look to Christ.

The best way to handle church bullies is to recall your life with Christ

The best way to handle church bullies is to recall your life with Christ. Recall that you’ve died with him at the cross, that you’ve been raised with him, and that you are now dialed into a new culture in the heavenly places where he reigns.

“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

 Colossians 3:1–4
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