Healing and an Alternative to Disgrace for Maligned Pastors and Missionaries

DENVER - As counterintuitive as it might sound, many pastors, missionaries, and Christian workers are attacked, accused, and maligned to such a degree that they either leave the ministry, are forced to resign, or are fired outright.

Longtime minister Dr. Chris Creech wrote The Antidote: Real Biblical Cures for Toxic Churches, Ministries and Lives to help heal those who have been traumatically harmed by conflict while engaged in Christian ministry. The book helps Western and Asian pastors and missionaries learn why they endure abuse, how to prevent it, and how to stop it once it has begun.

Creech first became aware of this problem when he and his wife, Faith, were raising support to serve as missionary faculty members at a seminary in Singapore. Eventually, Creech learned that while many programs address surface issues that cause conflict, they fail to recognize an important truth: those who are addicted to attacking others often do so because they learned as children to validate themselves by either criticizing others or allowing the criticism of others. Until this underlying cause of conflict is addressed, notes Creech, those who enter conflict resolution may seemingly change their behavior only to revert to destructive, instilled patterns of behavior, once again causing or allowing conflict.

Read more: Healing and an Alternative to Disgrace for Maligned Pastors and Missionaries


In the 70 plus years that I have walked this earth, I have had the opportunity to read numerous books on various topics. Until I read Dr. Creech’s Book, THE ANTIDOTE, only four other books in addition to the Bible in those 70 years have left such an indelible mark on me as Dr. Creech’s book has. Even decades after having read these other books, I still remember the name of the book, its author, and continue to quote the central teachings of the book in my conversations and teaching times. After reading THE ANTIDOTE, I now have five books that I will be quoting and referring to in my conversations and teaching times.

Read more: Priceless!

Offering real hope to all of us who experience conflicted lives

There are a few books that come along at just the right time in life to profoundly impact your life. This is such a book. In The Antidote Chris Creech clearly lays out a path forward for those who are plagued with the problem of conflicted ministries. He carefully thinks through how Scripture can help people, how people can help others, and why we develop sin patterns. It helped me to process and face my own deep pain and my response to it.

Chris points out that the beginning of change is Repentance. If no work is done beneath the water line, then work above the water line results in trying to find acceptance and love apart from Jesus. Repentance deals with issues underneath the waterline and includes a deep level repentance of trying to get our acceptance, security, competence needs met from people and from performance rather than from Jesus. Chris encourages us to pray “Lord I have sinned . I have been trying to gain acceptance of man by doing… What ever ‘doing’ that we use to gain the attention of others. Thank you for forgiving me and for forgetting this sin...I purpose to live only for you, seeking only you! In his name, I pray. Amen!”

Read more: Offering real hope to all of us who experience conflicted lives

A must read for anyone who is serious about church health

Reading about the damage caused by a toxic church in Dr. Chris’ first book titled “Toxic Church,” one could be tempted to think that there’s no redemption for a toxic church or people. But this sequela has rekindled my hope in the Church. That’s the good news in this book.

Like any good doctor would do before making a prescription for treatment, the author dug into the root of the problem tracing the cause of toxicity and dysfunction in a Christian life and church ministry to the Fall narrative in Genesis 3. This created the “Abuse Cycle” and our deep yearning for acceptance. Unfortunately, we all carry this baggage through life and contaminate everything in our path with this toxicity unless an intentional cure is sought.

Read more: A must read for anyone who is serious about church health

An admirable prescription

My friend, Chris Creech, possesses the gift of prophecy. I wouldn’t recommend him to pick the winner of the Kentucky Derby. But, I would call on him to “forth tell” the intricacies and the instigators of conflict in a local church. “The Antidote” is the companion of Chris’s book, “Toxic Church” in which he describes congregations at odds with their pastors in terms not unlike the words used by the prophet Isaiah in the first chapter of the book God inspired him to write. Like the Old Testament prophet, Chris begins with a scathing expose of the sins of pastors and people in “Toxic Church” and follows with “The Antidote” like Isaiah calls the sinners of Judah, “Come now and let us reason, says the Lord.”

Read more: An admirable prescription

See if the cure is right for you

You think of your church as the “family” and so it is. The New Testament writers speak of the church as “the family of God” (Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 2:19). That is the reality to which we should aspire! We see one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. But there is another simultaneous reality: your church is a gathering of families. This is the reality that makes relationships in your church dynamic. By that I mean, there is energy and vigor in the multiple complexities of relationships. Because the fall is still a reality for the redeemed, that energy isn’t always a positive force moving people in godly directions. There are dysfunctional families (that is, families behaving and relating in unhealthy and sinful ways) among the church families.

Read more: See if the cure is right for you

Challenging, biblical, practical, intentional solutions

The Antidote offers challenging biblical, practical and intentional solutions to the ailments of the church identified in Chris Creech’s first book, Toxic Church. Chris brings decades of training and significant ministry experience to this discussion. He has served in the US and Asia and continues to travel widely, offering instruction and counsel to leaders (and others) who hurt and leaders who have been hurt.

As I read The Antidote, two thoughts ran through my mind. The first is from Paul’s tough words to the legalistic churches of Galatia: “How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” (3:3, NLT) Our ministry in the church is simply not ours to shape, lead and direct as we desire. It will be fleshly if it is anything other than spiritual.

Read more: Challenging, biblical, practical, intentional solutions

Stopping the cycle of abuse and addictive patterns

The Antidote is Chris’s follow-up to his first book, Toxic Church, in which he seeks to explain the psychological background of conflicted relationships in churches and other organizations. In Toxic Church we are told that the many church conflicts, especially where pastors and other leaders are mistreated and often hounded out of the church, are a result of deeply rooted psychological and destructive behavioral patterns in those who are the aggressors of the conflict.

In The Antidote, we read that such destructive patterns in the church are the result of abusive relationships in the childhood homes of influential church individuals who lead or support the assault on leaders of their churches or religious organizations. Then, abusive childhood relationships result in adults who pass on their pain in the form of behavior adapted to gain the acceptance they lost in the abusive climate of their homes. This attention-seeking behavior follows predictable forms, or “scripts”, as “whatever seemed to work to gain acceptance as a child will be used over and over again in adulthood.” (Antidote, p.35)

Read more: Stopping the cycle of abuse and addictive patterns