Reflections: Chapter 3, “How Toxic Church Cultures Respond to Criticism”
While the stories relayed in this chapter were discouraging, they felt familiar. I’ve seen defence, deflection, and demonization play out in real time. I’ve used these tools myself. Personally, I’m uncovering deeper levels of insecurity-fueled performance in my heart. I’m seeing how criticism ignites anger and defensiveness joined to a thought like, “I’m already trying so hard! Give me a break!” This lack of joy in the grace-given security that only Jesus bestows is the seed from which all kinds of self-involved activity and abuse grows. Lord have mercy!
Reflections: Chapter 4, “False Narratives”
The eight false narrative responses described here are certainly an intertwined mess. While reading, I wondered about core motives under these defence strategies: personal pride, image maintenance, and institutional / income protection all came to mind. The chapter revealed how these motives are expressed when a problem surfaces. For many of us, it will also be helpful to reflect on how these show up in more routine circumstances. Thinking for myself, I’d identify self-pity, simmering resentment, and gossip as different fruits that spring from the root system as the responses described in the book. In the end, they’re all expressions of fear. If we’re not at rest as God’s children, we’ll need to build and defend substitute structures, identities, and narratives. What’s sad is how powerfully Christian ministry can function as a substitute for God Himself.
Reflection from Trevor Seath, Director with C2C Collective