- Paperback: 264 pages
- Publisher: Appleseed Press (October 25, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0976425610
- ISBN-13: 978-0976425618
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,176,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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These Sheep Bite Paperback – October 25, 2006
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These Sheep Bite further explores this obvious but uncomfortable truth -- there are people in churches who do their utmost to promote strife and disunity within the congregation, and stress and harassment to their leadership. To dislike or criticize a pastor is not unusual, and at times understandable. The book does not whitewash the issue of abusive clergy, leaders who abuse their sheep. But it points out that if a pastor does not please them, antagonists go on an all-out offensive. Personal grudges against those in leadership are typical -- the dissatisfied members within any given congregation become hostile and just plain spiteful.
A chapter of the book is a collection of such experiences from a diverse cross section of clergy -- predictable and unrelenting attacks on pastors and leaders. These situations are universal. The names change, the cities change, the dates change, but the personalities, often down to the last detail, are too similar to be specific. Every church has a history -- for better or for worse. If you have a defensive or aggressive sheep, the book suggests checking out his or her personal history (and the church's relationship) with the previous and/or current pastor.
These Sheep Bite is written in an entertaining style with many laugh-out-loud moments you immediately identify with. It offers a balanced view of the problem while also dealing with the darker side of the issue-the role of principalities and powers in everyday church life.
For the health and future of our church, These Sheep Bite challenges us to take caring, loving discipline seriously, and shows how to help build up the body of Christ. It suggests ways for leaders and their families to overcome bitterness, burnout, and resentment, and to deal with the kind of persecution most church leaders will face today without becoming a victim.
Other helpful books on the topic are: Antagonists in the Church by Kenneth Haugk, The Wounded Minister by Guy Greenfield, Clergy Killers by G. Lloyd Rediger, and Pastors at Greater Risk by H. B. London and Neil B. Wiseman.
A reader is led to believe that many pastors--including the author--are victims of vicious plots against them and their families. Even the publisher's review makes it appear that there is an epidemic of anti-pastorism among the churches of America. The incidents portrayed in the book are taken from real-life experiences of the author and some of his pastor friends. The problem with using personal incidents to illustrate or prove an idea is that it is nearly impossible to trust that the author has treated the incidents in a completely unbiased manner. While some of the ideas presented in the book regarding church discipline may be biblical and warranted in some cases, it's difficult to trust the author's objective treatment of the subject when an entire chapter of the book is devoted to stories selected from the author's past experiences told exclusively from his point of view. How is the reader to know the entire set of circumstances surrounding the anecdote? Without that knowledge, of course the congregants in these stories come out looking like satanic minions while the pastors are portrayed as abused victims cowering in the corners of their offices.
Another problem with the book is the use of these personal anecdotes in the first place. While anonymity was supposedly kept, it seems to me that many of the author's congregants may recognize the incidents--or perhaps themselves--in the book. This type of backhanded criticism leaves a sour taste in the reader's mouth. The people accused of "abusive behavior" have no way to tell their sides of the stories.
The truth actually lies somewhere in the middle, as it always does. And when considering truth one must always consider the source. This is why character witnesses are called when a person is on trial. They attest to the past evidence of a person's moral character; then it is easier to determine whether the person can be trusted to tell the truth. In the case of this book, we do not know the author's character, so we do not know the truth. I suspect that some of the author's former congregants are hurt and disturbed by this book, and it is unfortunate that the author chose to approach this subject in this particular manner as it may have been more powerful had it been treated in a more objective manner.