I have been part of an “unhealthy group”. There’s really no need to name one… there are healthy and unhealthy churches under most-if not all-denominational banners.

What makes a church group-or any other group for that matter-unhealthy? There are lists published by people more qualified than I about exactly what constitutes an unhealthy group. My unprofessional synopsis is that if the group is consistently demanding or demeaning or a person finds himself doing things for them or with them in fear, the group is probably unhealthy for that person. Someone else may find the group to be healthy, but for the one living in fear, condemnation, shame, or other negativities, it’s unhealthy. And for anyone involved in creating those feelings, putting others down, acting disdainfully toward others, condemning and shaming others, the group is also unhealthy, though they might not realize or want to admit it. Bullies are victims as much as are the bullied.

What should a person in an unhealthy environment do? Some choose to stay there, hoping things will improve. Some try to change the group from the inside. Some ignore the problem or become part of it. And some leave.

I left. It wasn’t an easy decision, nor have things been easy since. Yet for me, it was the very best choice I could have made.