Feb 20, 2017 by Will Maule

8 Signs That Your Church Is Becoming A Dictatorship

Churches often run the risk of becoming one-dimensional, insular and even cult-like if they are not stewarded well and led in the knowledge of God. Leaders can come to form an unhealhty view of Church as a body of people who should all think exactly the same way. This is dangerous, and Christians must be wary of it. Jayson Bradley at FaithIt highlights 8 key signs that a Church is on its way to becoming a dictatorship. 

1. Debate or difference of opinion is discouraged
"It’s obvious the minute it happens. You respond to a discussion with alternative view and you can almost hear the record scratch as everything goes silent. Suddenly, all eyes are on you. With a word or two you’re corrected, and it’s quite apparent that there will be no more discussion on this topic."

2. Conformity is encouraged as a virtue
"If you’re an evangelical that’s ever attended a Jewish Torah study group, your mind, like mine, was probably blown. I’ve been a couple of times and walked away wishing that Christian studies were similar. In many groups, the rabbi discusses a passage and then everyone tears into it. Sometimes there’s debate about the significance and point of the passage, and at other times people agree pretty quickly on the point. Ultimately, the point of the activity isn’t for someone in authority to tell everyone else the correct interpretation. It’s about a community of God gathering around a sacred text and discovering its meaning together. Conformity is often such a big part of evangelical culture that it’s hard to recognize when it’s out of balance."

3. Dissenters are fixed or dismissed
"This is a hard one. I’ve been in situations where the discussion could be summed up as, “you need to fall in line right now.” Of course, I need to be open to having my opinions and perspectives challenged—after all, I all have areas where I’m wrong. But it’s pretty easy to tell when the point is about fixing me, and not really grasping my position."

4. Negative stereotyping of outsiders and people who don’t agree
"You almost immediately know how safe a group is by how they talk about others. Do they demonize people who disagree about different points? Do they lump people into groups and stereotype them as “liberals,” “heretics,” or “red necks?” Are people generalized based on one or two litmus-test beliefs? Warning."

5. There’s a disregard for complex discussions
"Things are seldom as cut and dried as we assume. A culture begins to get unhealthy when its members no longer have the capacity to recognize the complex nature of social issues, politics, or biblical interpretations. As soon as we assume ideas are self evident, we’re likely developing a dangerous form of binary thinking."

6. Self-censorship is a form of self-defense
"As soon as we have to second guess what we say within our community of faith, there’s a problem. Making the decision to keep certain opinion to ourselves because we’re afraid of the response is a sign that community is breaking down. The sad thing is that, if what I am keep to myself is wrong, I’ll never know it—but if it’s right, neither will you."

7. Unanimity is assumed
"I would imagine that everyone has experienced this. I don’t know how many times a fellow church member has said something to me assuming that I share his opinion because, “Hey, we’re all Christians here, right?!” But the sad truth is that I’ve done it to others, too. I remember sitting with a bunch of Christian friends and having a laugh at young-earth creationists not realizing that I was hurting someone in the room. We should never assume that because we have Jesus in common, we share every other opinion. It’s an easy assumption to make."

8. New ideas are met with anger
"Sometimes I’ll question the status quo and be completely unprepared for the onslaught of angry responses. When it’s assumed that we’re all in agreement, it can be nearly impossible for people to process having an ideological traitor in the midst. When the average response to a contrary or new idea is anger, something is rotten in Denmark."

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