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On Wed May 27 at 12 pm Eastern, Safe Church hosted a webinar with Chuck DeGroat, author of When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community From Emotional and Spiritual Abuse

View the recording of this webinar here!

We are excited about this new book, just released in March, 2020, and an opportunity to learn via webinar with Professor Chuck DeGroat. Chuck is Professor of Counseling and Christian Spirituality at Western Theological Seminary Holland, MI, and Co-Founder and a Senior Fellow at Newbigin House of Studies, San Francisco. He is a licensed therapist, author, retreat leader, and spiritual director. Chuck has been married to Sara for 25 years, and has two daughters.

A quick overview of the book: 

Why does narcissism seem to thrive in our churches? We've seen the news stories and heard the rumors. Maybe we ourselves have been hurt by a narcissistic church leader. It's easy to throw the term around and diagnose others from afar. But what is narcissism, really? And how does it infiltrate the church? Chuck DeGroat has been counseling pastors with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as well as those wounded by narcissistic leaders and systems, for over twenty years. He knows firsthand the devastation narcissism leaves in its wake and how insidious and painful it is. In When Narcissism Comes to Church, DeGroat takes a close look at narcissism, not only in ministry leaders but also in church systems. He offers compassion and hope for those affected by its destructive power and imparts wise counsel for churches looking to heal from its systemic effects. DeGroat also offers hope for narcissists themselves―not by any shortcut, but by the long, slow road of genuine recovery, possible only through repentance and trust in the humble gospel of Jesus.


Hello there,

I am intrigued by this webinar....have spent many years learning about different components of Mental health and mental illness.  My question is does this webinar apply to a church member having narcissism or does it only address if a church leader is narcissistic? 


Hi Linda, Thanks for your question! In my opinion, I think it is more geared towards how leaders who have narcissistic tendencies affect those within the system. However, I also think its an invitation for all of us to understand our role within our narcissistic society, and can be a very helpful roadmap towards health and healing. Especially as Chuck refers to the Enneagram and invites the reader towards understanding their role within their family of origin. Here are a few quotes from the book that may give a bit more clarity: 

"My hope is that this book will invite each of us to ask how we participate in narcissistic systems while providing clear resources for those traumatized by narcissistic relationships, particularly in the church" (Page 4).

"The majority see narcissism as a problem 'out there' to be solved by clinicians and technicians of the soul. As I conclude my writing I wonder whether this book will be of any help, particularly if the reader remains unwilling to explore his or her own narcissism. How can we address the wounds in others if we are unwilling to address our own?" (page 169)

Don't we have to register ahead of time for the webinar? If not, will we find out only on May 27 if it's full?

Hi James, I believe it will fill up as people login, so there is no need to "register" ahead of time. As mentioned in the post though, we will be live-streaming on our Facebook page: - and if you'd like to ask a question through the facebook stream, just comment on it and it will go into the pool of questions being asked by participants in the Zoom Webinar. 

We've had some feedback about this webinar from those who felt that not enough attention was paid to the harm done by narcissism, especially church leaders. Just a note here - This webinar focused on the person with narcissistic tendencies, and less focus was given to those who have been victimized. It's valuable, with a prevention focus, to look at what needs to happen within those who have narcissistic tendencies, to stop the behavior and prevent future harm. That does not negate the need to understand the deep and often devastating effects of those who have been on the receiving end of this behavior. Both those who are harmed, and those who cause harm require healing in their inner being. And it may be a long and painful journey. The Church has a role to play, if we want our churches to be healing places that reveal God's transforming power. Safe church has heard many, many stories over the years of devastation caused by those with narcissistic tendencies, including church leaders. To help people understand these impacts, we've gathered a series of blogs/stories. It's called S.O.S. Sharing our Stories, you can find them here on The Network. 

In addition, we've received feedback about other resources and links to other sites. This one features several articles, that may be helpful, Biblical Perspectives on Narcissism. While the Bible does not specifically refer to “narcissism” –  which takes its name from Greek mythology – it does speak to the subject. 

We appreciate the feedback, and hope that this webinar can be a first step, or a starting point for further discussion about this important and timely topic.

Thanks for doing this, Chuck.  A term I am running into, which I find accurate, is "narcissistic abuse".    When working with women who have narcissistic husbands,  I review the 16 ways that their husbands mistreat and abuse them.  Although some fit the typical controlling traits of abusive husbands, some of them uniquely fit narcissism, such as gaslighting (distorting reality). Gaslighting is also becoming, I think, a stronger "go to" when talking about narcissism. Husbands who tell their wives,  "I didn't say that", "you didn't see that right", "You're not thinking right" and so on, are creating self-doubt which is exactly what husbands want. 

I wonder what the pastoral narcissistic abuse traits would be.  Judy De Wit


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