Our churches have a leadership crisis when it comes to power, money, and control. When power, money, and control are threatened, then church leaders risk behaviors that perpetuate toxic cycles of abuse. Decisions, policies, and behaviors that seek to protect the church may actually be driven by a fear of losing power, money, and control. Accountability becomes nearly impossible to enforce when the church’s leadership is committed to protecting the status quo because retaining the power, money, and control becomes the highest priority.
Who suffers most at the hands of leaders who are motivated by fear of losing power, money, and control? Women, people of color, specifically Black people, and other oppressed groups. For White churches operating out of this toxic fear of losing power, money and control, the result is serious harm. Abuse of power is a sin. The White church needs to be honest about its fear of losing power, money, and control and the insidious, systemic, and sinful abuse of power.
What would it look like to conduct a church-wide audit of abuse of power, especially toward the oppressed? How can we better hold our church leaders and institutions accountable for their abuse of power, money, and control? What systems can we put into place to ensure the oppressed are safe from harmful toxic leaders who make decisions that value power, money, and control above the lives of people who are viewed as less valuable?
More than boundary training, more than anti-racism training, in addition, what is needed is a leadership revolution that deconstructs White supremacy and patriarchy.
What would it look like for church leaders to be committed to ethical use of power, money, and control? What would it look like for the lives of the oppressed to be valued as equal partners in service to the mission of the church?
Until we find a way to disrupt the status quo, the cycles of abuse of power will continue. The way of Jesus calls us to be people of justice. Leadership modeled after Jesus means that when power, money, and control are threatened, we do whatever we can to enact justice for the oppressed.
True justice is not when the powerful retain power, money, and control. True justice is when we are all held accountable for our actions.
True justice is when the oppressed are allowed equal access to power, money, and control. True justice honors the whole Body of Christ for the purpose of ushering in the realm of God, a realm of justice and peace for all of Creation.
This is the first in a series of reflections about women, leadership, and the church.