Antibullying Congregation

Thanks to Rev. Caleb Crainer for writing this article for Faith+Lead, back in 2021 – and to Faith+Lead newsletter writers for re-sharing it in a recent email.

Caught in unhealthy power struggles and ‘toxic behavior’ after only a few weeks in his first call, Rev. Crainer writes, ‘I didn’t know what to do

This wasn’t unique to me. Almost every other pastor I know experienced something similar. Turns out, no one knew what to do. I reached out for help from more experienced clergy who eagerly shared their own struggles but didn’t have much useful advice about the ingrained unhealthy behaviors. …I felt pulled in every direction, unsure who to trust, and burning out before I really even got started…

I felt like I was expected to ignore these behaviors because “that’s just the way they are.” But I couldn’t ignore it, and I even found myself doing some of the same things too…’

Then, a congregational mom shared their child’s struggles with being bullied at school – and Crainer decided to, ‘host an anti-bullying workshop so that we could help at least make our tiny church a safer place for kids’.

In researching and preparing for the community-wide children-and-family based workshop, Crainer discovered a strong resonance between playground bullying and the toxic congregational behavior.

Crainer built an intentionally ‘unchurchy’ workshop to make it accessible for neighborhood families; the workshop was based on Bully Free Classroom: Over 100 Tips and Strategies for Teachers K-8. The article includes the workshop outline.

At the workshop’s conclusion, participants unanimously identified bullying behaviors at the church and determined to continue the work.

Learn more about what worked in Crainer’s congregation, including an insightful list of ‘Next Steps’ to help other leaders engage anti-bullying work in their settings.

Discover anti-bullying resources for all ages in our Antibullying & Friendship lib guide.

Read the full post here.