Renewal Ministries Fellowship ~ Discipling, Uniting, Equipping & Mobilising the Body of Christ
. ........... Renewal ~ rebirth, regeneration, restoration, rekindling, revitalisation, replenishment & revival
......................"..we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Cor. 4:5)
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  Scripture Moment






We are exhorted in Galatians 5:13 to serve one another in love. The outworking of this and the command to love your neighbour as yourself (Galatians 5:14) provides a safe place for people (both clergy and laity) to explore and express their faith in Jesus Christ. When we fail to do this and instead bite and devour each other we will be destroyed by each other (Galatians 5:15). Our Bullying Policy has a particular focus on protecting clergy from bullying and ensuring that our churches are safe places for them to minister as our Spiritual Abuse Policy focuses on protecting those they serve and ensuring that our churches are safe places to receive ministry. This policy on the prevention of vilification, harassment and bullying within Renewal Ministries Fellowship aims to encourage a true serving of one another in love, expose behaviours that are contrary to this and provide for healing of those who have been wounded through these actions. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves.(Romans 12:9-10)


Renewal Ministries Fellowship rejects all forms of vilification, harassment and bullying. We commit ourselves to a process of prevention of vilification, harassment and bullying, and of appropriate response to instances of vilification, harassment and bullying if they occur. Love does no harm to its neighbour.(Romans 13:9-10)

Renewal Ministries Fellowship is committed to providing an environment that is free from vilification, harassment and bullying. Relationships and standards of behaviour between people are important ministry issues. The principles for behaviour required in Renewal Ministries Fellowship include that:

  • all people should be treated with respect; and
  • all members should develop an awareness about the impact of their behaviour on others.

Further, Renewal Ministries Fellowship considers it to be a fundamental obligation of all members to behave appropriately in the ministry. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.(Philippians 2:3-4) It is not acceptable to harass, bully or vilify a person or group of persons in any church or ministry activity or forum. These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.. In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires. These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt;snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear - hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. (Jude 1:16-23)

Renewal Ministries Fellowship considers that vilification, harassment or bullying in the body of Christ is inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour, and that members found to have either committed or condoned such behaviour in the faith community may be subject to disciplinary action. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. (2 Timothy 3:2-5). What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you. (1Corinthians 3:12-13)

Renewal Ministries Fellowship commit ourselves to ensuring that powers and responsibilities are not exercised in ways that bully, harass or vilify a person or group of persons. This policy is not designed to limit freedom of speech and expression on any issue just ensure that freedom is expressed in ways that demonstrate respect all others as made in God's image. You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.(Galatians 5:13). Public activities including discussions, conversations, debates, artistic works, and theological and religious reflections are expected and encouraged as long as they are in good faith and in the interests of the faith community and the wider community as a whole; and in forums where all interested parties have an opportunity to participate. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone (1Peter 2:16-17).

Renewal Ministries Fellowship is committed to:

  • modeling behaviour that values each individual as made in the image of God. God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.(Genesis 1:27)
  • ensuring that its worship, pastoral care, services and structures are free from harassment, bullying and vilification. On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honour to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.(1Corinthians 12:22-26);
  • recognising harassment, bullying and vilification when it occurs and dealing with it. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy (Hebrews 1:9);
  • ensuring that all members are aware of such policies and can access procedures easily;
  • providing adequate training to assist in the prevention of harassment, bullying and vilification. Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. (1Peter 3:10-12 - quoting Psalm 34:12-16);
  • encouraging the reporting of inappropriate and illegal behaviours. John (the apostle of love) set us an example in this, wanting all to know the situation -I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.(3 John 1:9-10

Renewal Ministries Fellowship rejects all activities or comments, which are:

  • designed to harass a person or group of persons. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18) Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous.(1 John 3:12); or
  • made or done in a deliberately malicious, or divisive manner and where the intent of such activities or comments are to discredit, or defame, or express hatred and animosity or inflict injury or incite hatred or contempt for a person, or group of people. I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)


Is behaviour that happens publicly and occurs in order to discredit, or defame, or express hatred an animosity, or inflict injury, or incite hatred or contempt for a person or group of people.

Is repeated behaviour that is directed at a person or group of persons and that is:

  • offensive, humiliating or threatening, and
  • is unwelcome and unsolicited and
  • a reasonable person would consider is offensive, intimidating, humiliating, or threatening to the person or group of persons.

Bullying is persistent, unwelcome, offensive, abusive, intimidating or insulting behaviour.

  • It makes the recipient feel upset, threatened, humiliated or vulnerable, it undermines their self-confidence and may cause them to suffer stress.
  • It mostly uses unwarranted or invalid criticism, nit-picking, faultfinding and distorted or fabricated allegations.
  • It includes behaviour that could be expected to intimidate, offend, degrade, humiliate, undermine or threaten.
  • It is a form of abuse or assault (psychological violence), which has serious and devastating consequences not only for those targeted, but also for any organisation within which it is allowed to prevail.
  • The perpetrators usually act covertly and systematically to undermine, control, and (if they deem it necessary) to remove their targets.
  • Bullying is often more devastating than a physical injury as the suffering is usually compounded by denial.

Bullying is not:

  • a personality clash
  • people being unkind or "difficult"
  • tough management
  • something which only happens to children
  • something which only happens to "wimps" or unassertive people
  • something which those targeted can stop by standing up to the perpetrators
  • something which can be resolved by a "no-blame" reconciliation process


Education, Training and Prevention

A high priority must be given to preventative measures including education.

  1. It is essential that the imperative of servant leadership is taught and emphasised within all our congregations and ministries (this involves not just clergy, but all who hold positions in the body of Christ). Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:25-28)
  2. As it is equally possible for leaders to be the victims of bullying and harassment as the perpetrators of it (many clergy have been bullied to breaking point or out of the ministry) it is essential that the same accountability and call to service of the other apply equally to every member and associate of Renewal Ministries Fellowship. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves.(Romans 12:9-10) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
  3. It is necessary that all members and associates of Renewal Ministries Fellowship have some understanding of the ministry's stance and policy with regard to abuse involving vilification, harassment and bullying. This is the first step in openness and in building an atmosphere of trust and safety for all members. This will be implemented through a combination of:
    i) open discussions
    ii) access to the policy on the Renewal web site

Types of Bullying

  • Pressure bullying or unwitting bullying is where the stress of the moment causes behaviour to deteriorate; the person becomes short-tempered, irritable and may shout or swear at others. Everybody does this from time to time, but when the pressure is removed, behaviour returns to normal, the person recognises the inappropriateness of their behaviour, makes amends, and may apologise, and - crucially - learns from the experience so that next time the situation arises they are better able to deal with it. This is "normal" behaviour.
  • Organisational bullying occurs when an organisation struggles to adapt to changing demands, reduced income, cuts in budgets, imposed expectations, and other external pressures and responds to these pressures by abusing its members.
  • Client bullying is where ministers are bullied by those they serve. Often the client is claiming their perceived right (eg to better service) in an abusive, derogatory and often physically violent manner.
  • Serial bullying is where the source of all dysfunction can be traced to one individual, who picks on one minister/member after another and destroys them. This is the most common type of bullying.
  • Vicarious bullying is where two parties are encouraged to engage in adversarial interaction or conflict. One party becomes the bully's instrument of harassment and is deceived and manipulated into bullying the other party. An example of vicarious bullying is where the serial bully creates conflict between employer and employee, participating occasionally to stoke the conflict, but rarely taking an active part in the conflict themselves.

Serial Bullying

  • The underlying cause of this bullying is usually power abuse, with the perpetrators choosing as their targets anyone whom they perceive as a threat to their assumed power.
  • The perpetrators are often superficially charming and may appear to be an asset to the congregation (particularly if the congregation is small), to the extent that observers may find it hard to believe that they are capable of bullying.
  • Incidents reported by the person being bullied (often the clergy) may sometimes seem quite minor, but it is the sustained and systematic nature of bullying which turns seemingly trivial incidents into seriously damaging abuse.
  • When those targeted resist the perpetrators' attempts to control and intimidate them, the perpetrators will simply intensify the abuse until the targets either leave or break down under the stress of what is happening.
  • Anyone may find themselves the target of a bully simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • The clergy can be particularly vulnerable as they stand to lose their ministry, calling, income and (in some denominations) home. The needs of various dependants may add to this vulnerability, for example a spouse's career, children's education etc.

A classic example of such behaviour and God's response to it is found in 1 Kings 21:1-26. Ahab wanted Naboth's vineyard but Naboth refused to give away the inheritance of his fathers so Ahab sulked and Jezebel decided to get it for him. She accomplished this by organising for Naboth to be seated with high honour among the people of his city only to be falsely accused and stoned to death by them. God was not amused.

There is often a fairly predictable pattern of behaviour, which can be very gradual and subtle, in people for whom bullying has become a way of life. They often hold positions that they abuse by dominating and controlling everyone around them to the extent of 'removing' anyone who refused to comply with their order.

  1. The process begins with friendliness - "we're good mates here, look how good life can be for you if you go along with us".
  2. Then vaguely critical comments are made (pleasantly enough) at church meetings and after services, which on their own sound harmless and too trivial to answer, but which subtly begin to undermine other people's respect for the target and their ministry.
  3. This is backed up with similar comments behind their backs.
  4. Then there are the continual nit-picking criticisms addressed to the target privately which begin, almost imperceptibly at first, to chip away at their self-confidence.
  5. The target finds they are beginning to lose their joy in ministry and start getting very tired.
  6. At this point the pressure is increased as the criticism is strengthened.
  7. Then the shouting, the manipulation and the threats begin, which in their already weakened state the target often just can't handle. There may be threats to withdraw money from the church if they don't do as they are told, threats to destroy their ministry, and threats to make things very difficult for them.
  8. The attacks become more intense and may focus on such areas as their partnership in ministry and their marriage.
  9. Without appropriate intervention it all eventually becomes too much for the target to cope with and they either leave (often leaving the church community altogether) or suffer a stress breakdown and/or other health problems.
  10. The targets are then accused of being unforgiving and unspiritual, when in reality they are severely traumatised people. Everything they do is watched and reported back - most of it distorted or taken out of context. The bullying continues to be denied and the targets blamed, told they are spiritually and mentally inadequate and should never have been ordained or in any ministry position, labelled as having psychiatric problems and accused of trying to destroy the church.

Complaints Procedure


A complaint of bullying/harassment has the potential to affect a wide network of relationships. In particular three groups call for special pastoral care - the victim, his/her family or significant relationships, (the associate victims); the alleged perpetrator, his/her family, peers, (the secondary victims); the church community and individual members as a whole. The pastoral response of the church needs to be integrated with the investigative, disciplinary and legal procedures that may be undertaken.

The purpose of procedures for dealing with cases of bullying, harassment and vilification is to protect the vulnerable, stop the abuse, and to promote restoration/ healing.

Renewal Ministries Fellowship shall offer appropriate pastoral support to the victim, the alleged offender and their respective families. It is inappropriate for the same person to offer pastoral care to both the victim and the alleged offender. It is not appropriate for specific/designated pastoral care to be offered by those involved in any disciplinary actions related to the case.

The purpose of these procedures may be accomplished by offering opportunities for the truth to be spoken and believed, for any violation to be acknowledged, for accountability to be exercised, and for compassion to be demonstrated in ways that serve justice. All procedures need to be based on providing protection for the vulnerable and ensuring accountability for the offender. Every effort needs to be made to offer restitution to the victims and to enable them to be vindicated and to be set free from the power of the violation in their lives. It is also hoped that these procedures will, in some way, call the offenders to undertake a journey toward rediscovering their own humanity for their own well-being and for the well-being of the community.

Complaints Procedure

Members have a responsibility to ensure that their actions do not negatively affect another member's ministry, health or well-being. This includes not condoning bullying by failing to do anything about it, such as raising the matter with the bully or with the minister, or member of the leadership.

"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that `every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector." (Matthew 18:15-17 - see also Deuteronomy 19:1520).

Ideally, members should attempt to resolve issues of bullying at the informal level by:

  • Firstly raising the issue directly with the person they believe is responsible for bullying. Often, an informal approach can quickly resolve an instance of bullying.
  • If that fails to stop the bullying then involve one or two other members in the discussions with the person you believe is responsible for bullying.
  • If the issue is not resolved in this way the following procedure may be used to "tell it to the church":
  1. The complainant voices their concerns and is offered a Consultant to journey with them through the complaints process. All Consultants must be familiar with the issues involved in this form of abuse (bullying, harassment and vilification) and be sensitive discerning and committed to confidentiality,
  2. The complainant's story must be heard in such a way that reduces fear and anxiety and does not blame, shame or in any way punish the complainant.
  3. When a complainant approaches a Consultant, the role of this Consultant is to listen, take the complaint seriously, assist the Complainant in clarifying any confusion about the situation and outline options for dealing with the complaint and the possible implications of such options. The complainant should also be made aware that any victimisation as a result of reporting bullying or harassment will not be tolerated and will be regarded as a serious breach of discipline, automatically resulting in a formal investigation that, if proven, may result in disciplinary action being taken against the respondent, which can include dismissal from their position.
  4. It is essential that the complainant gives permission for any further action to be taken, and that he/she is aware of the options and possible consequences of choosing them. At each stage of the complaint's procedure the Consultant needs to ascertain the consent and desire of the complainant to undertake any step. Conciliation and mediation processes may be undertaken in isolation or as consecutive means to resolving the issue. An inability or unwillingness of a victim to proceed through either or both of these processes does not exempt the Ministry leadership from taking further disciplinary action should the investigative processes and interviews of both victim and alleged bully indicate and there is a case to answer. It must be recognised that the emotional burden of such a process in cases of intentional and/or severe abuse precludes effective conciliation or mediation processes.
  5. The complainant may, but is not obliged to, choose to try again to resolve the matter through informal procedures. The suggestions outlined below do not need to be undertaken in any particular order, or at all, nor are they necessarily appropriate in all circumstances.
    a) Say "no" to the Respondent and make it clear that the behaviour is unacceptable and unwanted. It might be appropriate to have a supportive person present for this conversation.
    b) Keep records of incidents/witnesses, etc., for possible future use.
    c) Write a letter to the Respondent asking that the offensive behaviour stop immediately.
  6. With the complainant's consent and comfort ascertained, and with the support of the Consultant, a detailed factual documentation of the complaint is to be prepared by an Investigator during an interview with the complainant. The Investigator is to be a member of the Management Committee familiar with the issues involved in bullying and harassment. The documentation should include:
    a) a specific description of the behaviour/s involved,
    b) the status or position of the church worker involved,
    c) the date/s of the alleged behaviour/s,
    d) the status of complainant at the time of the incident/s,
    e) the consequences/aftermath for the complainant (eg. leaving the congregation, spiritual and emotional crises, therapy),
    f) information about others who may have experienced similar abuse by the church worker or who may have witnessed alleged abuse.
  7. Complainants will be invited to read and sign this notation at the end of the interview process to signal agreement that the notes represent a fair and complete account of information given. The Consultant and Investigator also sign this document.
  8. During the investigative interview the Consultant and Investigator need to determine whether or not the complainant has attempted to make known the offensive nature of the behaviour to the respondent and the results of this attempt. Some empowering of the complainant through education and skill development may avoid a lengthy and painful complaint process. However, it must be made clear that responsibility for the creation of the offensive behaviour does not rest with the victim and that support is available through the Renewal complaints procedure.
  9. A brief factual description of the complainant's emotional state should be made, recorded and signed by the Consultant and Investigator with reference to his/her situation, ie. whether or not the person has divulged this previously or received counselling.
  10. At the conclusion of the investigative interview/s the Consultant and Investigator meet with the President of Renewal Ministries Fellowship for a Reporting Conference to determine further action.
    a) If the Consultant and Investigator have reasonable grounds for believing that a complaint has not been made in good faith they have the discretion not to proceed with the investigation and report such a decision and the grounds on which it is made to the President.
    b) If the Consultant and Investigator believe the complaint was made in good faith but believe it to be untrue, eg. the behaviour in question does not constitute bullying or harassment, or other issues seem to be effecting the complainant's perception of the alleged behaviour, the Consultant and Investigator need to hear the complainant's distress and possibly advise/facilitate appropriate pastoral care and educational opportunities, and the Investigator may be able to mediate with the complainant and church worker for reconciliation and understanding.
    c) If the Investigator has reasonable grounds for believing that the complaint has some basis they are to meet with the respondent (who may choose to have a support person present for the meeting) to discuss the allegations with them and compile detailed factual documentation of their response. The purpose of this process is to convey to the respondent that a complaint has been received and to hear the respondent's version of the situation. The Respondent will be advised that retaliation and/or threats of retaliation against the Complainant or others working with the complaint will not be tolerated by the leadership, nor will any behaviour be tolerated that initiates, fosters or contributes to such retaliation or threats of retaliation. If the Respondent denies the allegations then the first step is to find out the facts, this may include confidential interviews with everyone affected by or knowledgeable of the situation. Confidentiality must be guaranteed for all who supply information to the Investigator.

If the investigation reveals serial bullying disciplinary action shall be taken to ensure there is no continuation of this behaviour in Renewal Ministries Fellowship.


Instead of judging wounded Christians we need to respect them. Respecting them means loving them for who they are, where they are - without judgment, without prescription and without seeking to manipulate them.

Bully-damaged Christians need from the church love, understanding, validation, acceptance, friendship, sympathy, empathy, encouragement, ongoing practical support, warmth and compassion. They also need to be allowed plenty of time to work through their pain and come to terms with what has happened. Respecting these needs, without pressure or expectation, allows them to take control of their own circumstances within a safe environment, and will ultimately help them to heal.

Things to be Aware of:
Abuse and bullying cause intense negative and traumatic stress, and this stress can trigger all kinds of emotional and physiological disorder, which is sometimes referred to as psychiatric injury. Psychological abuse and bullying may be subtle, and may be hard to explain and prove, but can nevertheless cause real psychiatric injuries - just as any form of physical abuse can cause real physical injuries. Whilst the injuries caused by bullying may not always be visible, they can be extremely disabling, and often take much longer to heal.

Bullied Christians may experience spiritual difficulties - but beware of spiritualising what is happening. Severe stress damages a person's world view - existing beliefs may be undermined or even destroyed. If a bullied minister finds it impossible to pray, or questions his/her very belief in God, or is no longer able to go near a church, reassure them that this is a normal reaction to abnormal stress and has nothing to do with sin or spiritual inadequacy.

Victims of bullying are usually caring, committed and competent individuals with a high degree of honesty and integrity. Contrary to popular belief, they are very rarely weak individuals with little self-confidence or self-esteem, and a "victim mentality". Hence, it may be helpful to use the word "target" rather than "victim" to describe someone who is, or has been bullied. The person being bullied is not to blame for what is happening; bullying is a form of abuse and responsibility rests with the abuser.

Forgiveness should not be confused with healing. Whilst forgiveness may be an essential part of eventual recovery from bullying, it will not in itself provide instant healing. Insisting that an abused member must forgive an abuser before he/she is ready and able to do so can be a further abuse (see Discussion Paper on Forgiveness). Equally, an inability to cope with bullying and its after effects should never be attributed to a failure to forgive, or to any kind of spiritual inadequacy.

Recovery from bullying may take years - some people never fully recover from their experiences. Much depends on the severity and extent of the bullying, and the consequences of it. A minister who has lost their ministry, their home and their livelihood is unlikely to recover as quickly as one who has been able to move away from the bullying into another position. Pressure to "move forward" is usually highly detrimental to recovery.

While the full horror and destructive consequences of bullying need to be acknowledged and not minimised this does not negate the promise of scripture that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.(Romans 8:28-30) This precious one who has been bullied has not been devalued in God's sight and He is well able to use even something so terrible as abuse in His transformation of them into the likeness of Christ - tremendous strength, compassion, understanding, wisdom, grace and depth of character can be developed through such horrible experiences. Jesus, too, was bullied: The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory (Romans 8:16-17). We are not devalued in God's sight by the bullying but, rather, in this sharing in the sufferings of Christ we are qualified to share in His glory. His glory is truly revealed most powerfully in those who have suffered most. Not that we should ever seek to suffer - this sin-stained world brings more than enough of that on us without needing to go looking for it - but when we do suffer, God incredibly takes that which was aimed at destroying us and uses it to transform us into the likeness of His Son and so displays His glory in us. What, then shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all - how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered". No, in all these things (yes, even in the abuse and the devastation that we may feel) we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angles nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Things to Do:
Listen: Victims of bullying may need to talk and talk, repeating the same thing over and over as they seek to make some sense of what is happening. This is normal and, for some, necessary. (A counsellor may listen when friends and family cannot). At the same time, they may be completely unable to articulate details of the bullying for months or even years after their experience.
Believe: Everyone who has been abused in any way needs to have their experiences believed unconditionally.
Reassure: Targets of bullying need frequent, ongoing reassurance that they are not to blame for the abuse or bullying, and that their reactions are a normal response to an abnormal situation.

Things Not to Do:
Blame: It cannot be said too frequently - responsibility for the abuse and bullying, and the damage it causes, rests solely with the abuser or bully. Too often reactions which are normal under excessive or prolonged stress are assumed to be signs of abnormality or deficiency within the person affected, which may then be assumed to be the cause of the problem rather than a consequence of it. A person's reactions under stress may resemble symptoms of mental illness - loss of emotional control, apparent overreactions to seemingly trivial stimuli, hypervigilance (eg. being on constant alert for further abuse) etc., may be mistaken for instability, irrational behaviour and paranoia. Extreme fatigue is a normal reaction under stress. Most stressed people will "try harder" to overcome their problems, when what they need most is "worry-free" rest.
Prescribe: Telling a bullied member what to do to solve his/her problems is unlikely to go down well! They will almost certainly already have tried everything and anything to stop what is happening. And, what may seem easy and obvious to you may be impossible for them. Never underestimate the power of a bully, or the extent of the damage which bullying can cause. Being bullied almost always leads to feelings of powerlessness in those targeted. If the support offered is too directive and/or controlling, however well-intentioned this may be, then there is a danger that it will be perceived as replicating the bullying, so reinforcing feelings of powerlessness and causing further stress and distress.
Deny: You may find it hard to accept that churches can bully their ministers or members, or to believe that a particular person is the bullying type, but to deny the experiences of a person who is being bullied achieves nothing positive - and may, in fact, prove more damaging to a person than the bullying itself.

One More Thing to Consider:
Bullying is a devastating experience for the person who is being targeted. However, there will often be secondary casualties - eg. the spouse, children and other close family members. Even if they are not actually being bullied, these secondary casualties may suffer considerable stress and distress. The whole family will need support.

Conclusion: The recovery and transformation process takes a long time. One-on-one support is a long-term commitment. More helpful is a group support system, where all are assisting survivors in various aspects. Create a network of Christians who will assist with material needs. Be available as a friend in a small group of friends. Value greatly the one who has been bullied as God highly esteems them (He is near to the broken-hearted) - out of partaking in this aspect of Christ's sufferings they are in the process of being able to display an aspect of His glory that we may not see elsewhere.


BALM: Bullied &Abused Lives in Ministry - A Christian Support Network for Damaged Ministers International and Interdenominational

Bully on Line provides detailed information on various forms of bullying, particularly in the workplace but also including churches and families

All scriptures excerpted from Compton's Interactive Bible NIV. Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved .



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