The information below is from a book called Broken Hearts Shattered Trust: Workplace Abuse of Staff in the Church by Dr. John K. Setser. Although it is written about church staff it also applies to volunteers who serve in toxic environments, and even to those who are just attending a church that is toxic. There are many wonderful churches out there, but if you are a part of a toxic church the effects can be far reaching and deeply impactful. Please take care of yourself but maintain perspective that when you are hurt, stressed, and in pain it is easy to lash out and feel things are worse off than they are. Turn to others for support and perspective.
Staff associates who work in toxic church environments can implement six survival skills that will help them avoid trouble.
1. Do not accept abusive treatment as normal. Resist cruelty, coercion, threat, inequity, constraint, and completion.
2. Recognize wounding agents for who they are. They are self-centered bullies who use sexual, physical, verbal, or psychological strategies to get what they want.
3. Be alert to being “set up.” Do not let senior pastors indoctrinate or psychologically coerce you into compliance.
4. Seek out lateral support system. If you are being mistreated, chances are you are not alone. Ignore the “don’t talk” rule and share your experiences with others. Wounding senior pastors can sometimes be stopped if they are confronted by a unified group.
5. Watch your heart. Do not give into self-pity, rage, or a judgmental attitude. Jesus calls us to pray and look to Him. He works all things for good.
6. Don’t stay too long. It is never God’s will for you to remain in a wounding church. Exit as soon as possible and tell people why you are leaving.