What is Church Attendance Bullying?


Michelle Van Loon has seen several sides of Christianity as a child of the Jesus movement who ended up, for a time, in a fundamentalist church.

So she can spot the difference between concern and control in a congregation. She also knows spiritual accountability and spiritual abuse when she sees them.

So when a prominent Christian leader took to social media recently to chastise those who do not regularly attend church, she saw it for what it was: bullying.

And that’s what inspired her to post a blog for Christianity Today titled “Put Down the Church Attendance Scorecard.”

Van Loon is an author and blogger who lives in Chicago, where she currently attends a megachurch and is a student at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Church attendance — or non-attendance — is one of the most spiritually abusive topics in church today, she says. Campaigns to boost small-group sessions, Bible studies and, of course, Sunday worship, often contain criticisms of lifestyles and life circumstances that may hinder consistent physical presence at church, she said.

“Many hear these reminders as genuine concern for attendees’ spiritual health, but for some of us, it feels like peer pressure,” she said in the April 11 blog.

Van Loon spoke with Baptist News Global about the pressures churches put on their members — and how they can stop or prevent such spiritual abuse.

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