This summer, I spent quite a bit of time diving into the world of spiritual abuse, church abuse, and narcissistic leadership. And this fall, I’ve found myself in the midst of several conversations hearing about these matters and recommending many of the resources I’ve found. So it seems only logical to me to make a list of what I and others have found helpful.
One bit of advice: Diving deep into these heavy topics takes a toll on the self. I found myself overwhelmed with the information I was consuming and needing to come up for air. My encouragement to you? Take your time. Come up for air. Process the material with people you trust.
Podcasts & Docuseries on Spiritually Abusive Churches & Organizations
- The Rise & Fall of Mars Hill podcast by Christianity Today—This podcast is a lengthy portrait of a church that fell apart in the wake of toxic leadership.
- The Secrets of Hillsong docuseries available on Hulu
- Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets docuseries available on Amazon Video
Books on Spiritual Abuse & Narcissistic Leadership
I have personally read these books and found them helpful…
- A Church Called Tov: Forming a Goodness Culture That Resists Abuses of Power and Promotes Healing by Scot McKnight—I really love this one as it envisions a good church culture and gives some hope to what a “tov” church can look like!
- When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community From Emotional and Spiritual Abuse by Chuck DeGroat
- Something’s Not Right: Decoding the Hidden Tactics of Abuse—and Freeing Yourself from Its Power by Wade Mullen
These books have been recommended by people I trust, but I haven’t had a chance to read them myself!
- Bully Pulpit: Confronting the Problem of Spiritual Abuse in the Church by Michael J Kruger
- The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson & Jeff VanVonderen
Where We Go From Here: How the Church Might Heal
Culture change is needed in our churches! These resources envision what a good church culture might look like…
- “Church After Mars Hill” series on the Transforming Engagement podcast—More than a year after the Rise & Fall of Mars Hill wrapped up, the Center for Transforming Engagement hosted a series of conversations about how the church can learn from the toxic church leadership we see in the news.
- The Resilient Pastor podcast by Barna—This podcast, while not directly addressing spiritual abuse, church abuse, and narcissism, generally addresses how pastors and ministry leaders can lead wholeheartedly, lean into vulnerability, and stay resilient in ministry for the long haul.
By no means is this a comprehensive list! If you have suggestions to add my list, I would love to hear from you. Feel free to email at hello(at)sarahjoaustin(dot)com.