Responsibility for Spiritual Abuse – Part 3F – Step 5, Layer 2. Abusive Leaders Need to Deal with Interpersonal Issues

Part 3 – Concepts, Questions, and Continuums for Building a Comprehensive “Remediation Plan”

Part 3F. Step 5, Layer 2.

Abusive Leaders Need to Deal with Interpersonal Issues


Layer 1 – How to determine the levels of personal growth and recovery needed by leaders who harm others, regardless of how gifted they are or how much they help others.

Layer 2 – How to identify what levels of peace-making are needed in personal relationships where a leader has caused damage.


Layer 3 – How to ensure individuals qualified for roles to lead the organization stay, when those disqualified should be removed, and when/if they should ever be restored to a former position.

Layer 4 – How to discern whether an organization that is toxic can be repaired, or should not even survive. Continue reading

Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church Research Guide – Part 2D – Pulling It All Together

Part 2D – Pulling It All Together


As a reminder, the source facts from which I developed these graphics come almost exclusively from official regulatory websites, required public information documents posted online, and other information freely posted publicly on organizational websites. I have used my own analysis to piece together the interrelationships among the various entities, and if there is a significant level of speculation involved, I generally try to note that.

Meanwhile, I consider all of these compilations, charts, and illustrative images to be works in progress, based on the 12 entities I know of to date. If you know of other related corporations, LLCs, or trusts, please let me know their names and/or Unified Business Identification/UBI or ID numbers. After I verify the information, I will note the addition(s) and/or correction(s), and adjust the compilation and charts to match. (And please let me know if you want attribution for adding that source or not.)

With the graphics, if you see errors in fact or relationships among organizations, please let me know, plus share verifiable sources for the correct information, so I can update my understanding and the related images.

Also, I am open to suggestions on making the graphics more “clean and clear,” so they are as accessible as possible, given the complexity of the information I’m sometimes attempting to portray.

Finally, I have created a comprehensive Table of Contents for the Research Guide series, Parts 1 and 2, for easier reference and location of your topics of interest. Because it is lengthy, I am putting it in a separate post, Part 2E. Continue reading

Thoughts on Redemption in the Wake of Abuse: Agents of Damage versus Agents of Healing

“Good or Evil?” © Scott Maxwell / Fotolia #6928112.

“Good or Evil?” © Scott Maxwell / Fotolia #6928112.

[This post is part of the #IStandWithSGMVictims campaign on Twitter, and the #IStandWithSGMVictims campaign on Facebook.]

I suspect that acquiring a deep understanding of how relational dynamics works in the real world is something that takes us all a lifetime – as does our applications of those healing skills to bring Kingdom transformation on earth as it is in heaven. My journey with Jesus on that pathway to peace has unfolded in unexpected ways. But the longer I go with Him, the more spiritual sense it all makes. Here are some snapshots from my journey in learning about victimization and recovery and how it involves Agents of Damage and paradoxical parallel Agents of Healing. Continue reading

Thoughts on Abuse, Position, Power – and Restitution

If you’ve followed my blogging at futuristguy here on WordPress, you’ll know I’ve been doing research writing on systems and dynamics of spiritual abuse and recovery for 7 years, tracking various aspects of the Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) situation for a minimum of 3 years, and first blogged something about the SGM system in 2012. Spiritual abuse survivors and others who follow what happened at the SGM association of churches and civil lawsuits from it knew that a related criminal trial was scheduled for this May. The results of the first trial came in Thursday, finding Nathaniel Morales guilty on all counts. A second trial for Mr. Morales begins next week.

I find in the civil suit against SGM and related criminal cases a complex situation with many kinds of victims, perpetrators, and enablers – each category of which could use some specific messages at this time. I felt compelled to do what I could to address key issues as constructively as possible. This post is a compilation of writings posted so far. My hope is that they provide some insight into how the human systems of real people intersect the organizational systems of SGM and Covenant Life Church (CLC) in ways that caused damage – and, potentially, could bring recovery for individuals who’ve survived abuse, restitution by those who were “agents of damage,” rehabilitation of the extended SGM system (if that is even warranted, and where it is even possible) to bring health, transparency, and accountability, and restoration of  a besmirched testimony of the Church before a watching world.

This post is part of the #IStandWithSGMVictims campaign on Twitter, and #IStandWithSGMVictims campaign on Facebook. Continue reading

Is It Time To Tell My Story?

Suggestions for Spiritual Abuse Survivors in the
How, When, and Why in Sharing Our Accounts of Recovery


I’ve been writing about spiritual abuse and recovery since 2008. Part of what started me down this path was when I took Barbara Orlowski’s survey about experiences of spiritual abuse, responses to the perpetrator and organization, and the recovery process. Sadly, I had multiple severe experiences to draw from, but I must say that the process of completing her survey made a significant difference for me in understanding what happened to me, how bully leaders work over the people under them, and areas I needed to continue healing from.

I’ve also helped people process their story to write it for themselves. And I’ve written other people’s accounts for them, or set up investigative archives for several lawsuits or other major situations involving spiritual abuse. [Unfortunately, I’m not available to do any of these right now, so please don’t contact me to ask if I can help you. I’m swamped with finishing production of a curriculum series.]

At least journaling about our experiences of spiritual abuse and recovery is a process I highly recommend. You’ll likely find yourself exploring issues and answers you might never get into otherwise. But what happens if you’re feeling a nudge to do something more than just “process”? What if you sense you may be led to do something with the product of all that processing? Is it perhaps time to tell your story? And if so, how do you know when to do this, and what you should include? In this article, I’ve captured some practical how-to advice on these and related questions. Hope you find it of help … Continue reading

Spiritual Abuse Survivors: The “Community” Becomes a “Movement”

January is "Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month"

January is “Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month”

If you read my last post on ““Hangover Unholiness” Left by Malignant Ministers: Spiritual Abuse Recovery Questions for 2013,” you may not have caught the comment that came in from my friend Linda of Kingdomgrace. She’s been a pioneer blogger in the spiritual abuse survivors community, and I appreciate her big-picture perspective on healing for individuals and how this works out in systems. Here’s what she said:

Brad, Really good questions. It seems detox has mostly been addressed at the personal level. You are doing important work identifying systemic issues at the organizational level. I think there is also a social-cultural aspect of detox that exists beyond the organization having to do with social identity, relationships, group think, etc. Your questions reminded me of how complex this issue is and how comprehensive approaches to healing must be.

Here is the reply I wrote. It covers some things I’ve been thinking about for a while on the impact of toxic systems dynamics, and I felt it was important enough to highlight in a follow-up post to the one on “Hangover Unholiness.” Continue reading

Systems Dynamics in Toxic Organizations: Learning from What Happened at Lakeland

January is "Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month"

January is “Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month”

There is far more discussion these days on “systems dynamics” in churches and ministries, especially those that are showing themselves to be toxic. I believe we in the spiritual abuse survivors movement are now exploring these issues because of how much emerged in 2012 on the machinations behind the scenes in ministry organizations like Sovereign Grace Ministries, Mars Hill Church, and numerous other individual churches and mega-churches around North America. I’m especially concerned for all the “collateral damage” of people who’ve been steeped in the Sovereign Grace Ministries network, as they come to terms with the allegations and documentation in the class action lawsuit that has been filed. The “survivor community” is not just about individuals survivors or families who exit toxic churches and how to heal, it’s about entire entities and how to confront ingrained strategies and structures and methods and messages that have tainted the spirits of the people immersed in them.

The need to help new waves of survivors and “nones” will never go away, but it feels like a radically new dimension of diagnosis and treatment has opened up, for dealing with organizational dynamics that need either radical transformation to survive, and closure to shut down. But these are not topics we’re generally aware of. At least, not yet. Where do we go to learn more? Here are links to two case studies …

Continue reading

“Hangover Unholiness” Left by Malignant Ministers: Spiritual Abuse Recovery Questions for 2013

January is "Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month"

January is “Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month”

For the past several years, January has been designated as “Spiritual Abuse Awareness” month. I’ve been intentional to post something relevant on the topic at least in January – though this is one of my major blog topics, all year round.

For 2013, it seems my focus may be shifting. I’ve been blogging here extensively on spiritual abuse the past five years, mostly on analyzing the dynamics of “malignant ministers,” spiritually abusive organizational structures, and the toxic cultures they create. Some of my writing has been on personal recovery issues, and it seems some new dimensions on this topic are on line for me to explore this year … Continue reading

Index to futuristguy Posts on Recovery from Spiritual Abuse

January is Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month

In case you hadn’t heard already, January has been designated as “Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month.” You’ll find information about this at the Spiritual Abuse Awareness page on Facebook. That page offers many helpful principles, comments, and links there about freedom, choice, and hope in Christ. Also see the Raising Awareness page on the Spiritual Abuse Awareness website for details.

In recent years, I have written extensively on abuse by people in roles of spiritual influence and authority, inherently toxic ministry systems and movements, and recovery from the trauma of spiritual abuse. I thought one of the most helpful things I could do is share an index and links for what has already been published. I am reworking much of this material for a forthcoming book series that will cover personal and organizational topics related to spiritual abuse.

[UPDATE AUGUST 2014. This index was originally posted in January 2011. I have updated it several times, and just recently expanded the index to include additional posts up through this month in my blog category on Recovery from Spiritual Abuse. Posts in this category profile human and organizational aspects in systems of abuse, suggest their source problems, and lead survivors toward constructive personal and institutional responses.] Continue reading