Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Most Local Churches are Actually Theater Stages for Performers

Isaiah 1:13-15 ESV  Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.  (14)  Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.  (15)  When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.

I want us to think carefully about what most churches look like. What I mean specifically is, how does the sanctuary (where the worship services are held) look? How is it arranged? What is the physical layout? Do you have the picture in  your mind?
Now, think about a theater. You know – a stage where performers perform. An audience out the in pews….uh….seats. Do you see a troubling parallel?

The most common example of evil in churches that I have repeatedly had to deal with all these years is – performers masqueradings as “worship leaders.” As “worship” team members. And of course all too often as preachers. These kind are some of the nastiest hypocrites who control entire congregations, leading them in a false worship that is disgusting to the Lord.
Why am I writing about this subject here on this blog? Because it is these kinds of evil people who creep in among us disguised as “saints” who oppress Christ’s true people and enslave them. These kind lust for self-glory and when they don’t think they are getting enough worship, the fangs come out.
These kind persecute and hate Christ’s people. They are children of the kingdom of darkness doing all they can to extinguish Christ’s light.
When I came to our church here nearly 3 decades ago, it was entirely dominated by just this brand of wickedness. They had infiltrated the entire church so that no aspect of ministry was left un-corrupted by their evil. The choir and music ministry. The missions ministry. The Christian education ministry. The church leadershp board. And the large majority of the congregation. I do not exaggerate. The previous two pastors had either created this thing or had allowed it to grow without being confronted.
And the most typical motivation of this evil was, self-glory. A lust for self-praise. Musical instruments were played for self-glory. The choir sang for self-glory. Solos, duets, quartets…sought self-glory. Classes were taught, home fellowship groups were organized, children’s classes led….all for the praise of those carrying them out. Prayers were prayed…for self-glory. In fact, if it was any kind of “ministry” carried out as part of this church, its motivation was….you guessed it….self-glory.
When I confronted this evil from the pulpit one Sunday morning, there was a blow-up.  The wicked exploded and one key ring-leader stormed out the door. But in some ways most telling was what one other luster for self-praise said to me after the service. “We have a reputation in this community of being a wonderful, loving, family church and now everyone is going to hear about this and our reputation is lost.” Yep. Good.
Now, people who desire to be top-dog in a church, who crave being viewed as the most pious saint of all, are incredibly mean. Just read up on the Pharisees of Jesus’ day and you will have a pretty accurate picture of the kind I am talking about. Cross them, confront them, point out the false doctrine they are pushing, and the battle will rage. And so it did – for some 20 years until the last of them went out from us – after all, they were not of us.
This brings me back to this business of a church sanctuary being set up pretty much just like a theater. Wicked people who crave glory for themselves lust for a stage and an audience. What easier place to find it than the church?
This business requires some very serious thought by all of us. The Spirit of Christ in us enables us to hear Jesus’ voice. He enables us to discern Light from Darkness. And I suggest that if we will just listen to Him, He will also tell us when we are in a theater watching performers perform for applause and not among His real people.
Want to be oppressed by the wicked? I hope not. But unless you are wise in regard to these things, that is surely what is going to happen to you when your “church” is really Hollywood.


Update on Our Friend and Brother Mack


Churches Need to Stop Practicing Willful Blindness toward the Wicked


  1. walkinginlight

    This reminds me of a lesson I learned back in 2001. A relative took me for a week long “Christian” cruise to the Caribbean. There were quite a few “big names” on this cruise from the Charismatic circle. What I encountered was more like a big show and stage production. As Pastor Crippen mentioned above, “Hollywood”. That is exactly it! I was shocked at what I saw. It was very disheartening to me. God spoke to my heart on this cruise and said “Things are not as they appear to be”. I will never forget that lesson. Ever since this experience I became a avid fruit inspector. What may seem pious and Godly to begin with does not “give” good fruit.

  2. Innoscent

    So true Jeff! This is a major reason why I no longer go to church, I was sick and tired of all the ‘theatrical performance’ by the leaders et al. who clinged on to their ‘roles’ adamant that they would ‘run the show’ and ‘perform’ on the ‘stage’ their music, drama and comedy. I don’t want any part in this tragedy.
    There’s no family/genuine attention/affection anymore, you walk in there as if in a movie theater and you’re expected to pay your entrance fee (offering, tithe), you’re handed a programme (church bulletin), you sit down, watch the show (as a spectator) and praise men rather than God (applaud). Arghh, simply disgusting!
    In Greek, the word for ‘actor’ is ‘hypokrites’ which means ‘actor’ or ‘stage’ player. See Merriam Webster for an interesting definition and etymology.
    The theatrical setting (set-up) of the church is an ideal arena for abusers who, as rank actors/hypokrites, can spot their future victims, ‘play’ and charm them in what they (victims) think is a safe environment. That’s where I met one that became my husband.:( Praise God for breaking the spell and delivering me!
    And by the way, the whole concept of movies, acting, is against God’s principles of Truth. I have a whole study on this but in a nutshell, the very craft of acting was invented by the devil. He channeled the serpent animal to lure Eve who was surprised a beast could speak. Christ never performed but was always genuine and true. When I understood this from the Word I did away with anything acting, movies and so-called ‘Christian’ movies and the like. Any acting and disguise in the Bible is done with the aim of deceiving. God gave us imagination to picture in our mind, with the help of the Word and the Holy Spirit, what we need to understand and visualize. Whatever is true, honest, pure, lovely of good report, etc. which we should dwell upon (Phil 4.8).

    • aussie

      I find myself agreeing with all said here. The good old doctrine of *purity of worship* as taught in the Westminster Confession of Faith (and probably the Baptist London Confession…forgive me Jeff but I am not familiar with it) was a huge blessing in Presbyterian churches in past times though largely ignored in mainstream Presbyterian churches today. I don’t watch movies, either, for same reasons. A W Tozer has a really good booklet called THE MENACE OF THE RELIGIOUS MOVIE. Read it, folks. It is specific to *Christian* movies and drama but has broader applications.

    • Sue

      Dear Pastor Crippen and Friends, i’m glad the Holy Spirit took the movie/tv desire out of my life some years ago. What i hate most about entertaInment in general is, how it deceives (older) women into thinking that a rich, tall, sensitive, popular cowboy is just around the corner with a big diamond ring in his suit pocket – and plane tickets to France. Uh not likely…in these times where natural affection is going the way of the typewriter.

      • Innoscent

        Sue, exactly how I was brainwashed as a teen with entertainment (i.e. movies, TV, comics, novels, music, gigs, sports, etc.), and even afer becoming a Christian, and… then fell for a “charming Christian man”. 🙁 A disaster waiting to happen because the church leaders don’t teach you about the satanic tactics, how to be totally cleansed from the world remains and how to stay away from Satan’s grounds.
        Thank God for His patience with me. And for HIs Holy Spirit to purge all that satanic garbage out of my system. And praise the Lord for the Unholy Charade ministry!

  3. Allis38

    Great post pastor Crippen. I have noticed this in churches I have attended also. I never understood why those in the worship team and those in the pastor’s inner circle were so snobbish and ego driven. It was strange and I didn’t like it at all. They were very hard to be around, very cliquish. I didn’t feel safe around them. This is why people don’t like to go to church; they are met with this selfish evil. Thank you for this post.

  4. Cara

    This is the beauty of online church sermons by Pastor Crippen. We get to worship the Lord and skip any potential church cliques. Same with the wolves in sheep’s clothing.
    To be sure, in my life, I’ve had very nice, wonderful church experiences. But I’ve also had the opposite and such has scared me away for good.
    So, I’m glad there is now the online worship option, as being unchurched was awful, too. Thanks to the efforts of Pastor Crippen and possibly TWBTC and others who facilitate it, we get to be apart of church again. God is number 1. Alpha and Omega.

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