10 signs that the church is narcissistic

"The Church Narcissistic" (cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward)

“The Church Narcissistic” (cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward)

Browsing the internet convinces me now more than ever that the church is showing signs of being narcissistic. Not all churches, but the church in general.

So I imagined this cartoon.

Let’s compare the church with a person. What symptoms does a narcissist display?

  1. They have a grandiose sense of self-importance.
  2. They are preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success.
  3. They believe that they are special or unique.
  4. They require constant admiration.
  5. They have a very strong sense of entitlement.
  6. They exploit others and don’t respect boundaries.
  7. They lack empathy.
  8. They are envious of others or think others are envious of them.
  9. They regularly display arrogant attitudes and behaviors.
  10. They react to criticism or contrary viewpoints with condescension and anger.

(Read more on PsychCentral)

The treatment for narcissism is always described as long term because often the root of narcissism is a severe lack of self-worth that lie in serious difficulties with the person’s pathological development.

It requires the patient to:

  • Admit they are narcissistic.
  • Seek professional help.
  • Commit to the long-term for healing.

What steps can the church take?

I think it needs to begin with local leadership and percolate throughout the rest of the local community.

What are your thoughts?


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25 Responses

  1. Tracey Cullers says:

    It has been more helpful to me to think of the church as a narcissistic family system–ideas based on this book —

    The Narcissistic Family: Diagnosis and Treatment
    Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman

    Children who grow up in these systems have the similar symptoms to children with deep traumatic childhoods . . .

  2. Cathryn says:

    “thinking of nothing but itself” is what that also could be called. (since the church appears empty or just a frame)

    Anyway, thanks for stating it. Yep, been feeling that for a while now. I can think of many Pastor’s that could NPD.

  3. nexar says:

    Let me start by saying I’m an agnostic. So anything that ‘challenges’ conventional ideas of religion is very welcome.

    May I ask a question. Do you feel you are in the process of becoming an agnostic, or are you there already?

  4. David says:

    Hi Nexar: I’m not comfortable in any label, although I get a lot stuck to me by others. Which I don’t really mind. I’m a fond mixture. Like a delicious stew.

  5. nexar says:

    Hmmm I like that a LOOOOOT!! A delicious stew but not labelled. Lol.

  6. nexar says:

    P.S. David THAT question was to the ‘Naked P’.

  7. nexar says:

    I’m new here so I’m interested in knowing where my ‘avatar’ got selected from. I’m not threatening at ALL!! Bu.t… an aggressive ‘me’ avatar I could live with. Just as long as I can ‘boast’ about it to my friends. Lol.

  8. David says:

    David = nakedpastor

  9. nexar says:

    Hahahaha!! Silly silly me.

  10. George says:

    It is the fashion, isn’t it? to criticize the church for everything and all. Churches are made up of people, just like you and me. Why not lay down you sword, and get on with “doing” your faith, if you have it.

  11. cecilia davidson says:

    George, i get the honest feeling that you’re hiding a sword, yourself. It is quite true that the Church and its leadership are obsessed with being of great importance and somehow permeating all aspects of life, especially where it shouldn’t. The Church shouldn’t at all be about itself, but, as Jesus commanded, to serve the people.

  12. kris799 says:

    The church wants all the control but no responsibility. I cannot stand the arguments that those of us who challenge the church are divisive and should focus on spreading the gospel. Those arguments are meant to silence people who have legitimate concerns about an institution that wants to control every aspect of you life but not admit when they have screwed up. Too much power, too little accountability. Yet they love to accuse institutions like the government of having too much power and too little accountability.

    I do not need an institution to have faith and my faith has broadened in so many ways outside the walls of a church.

  13. I think Sophia should convert to Catholicism and get a job at the Vatican!

  14. The modernprophet says:

    Enjoy your drawings a great deal. I very much empathise with you on various topics. However on point three. We are a new creation. No more in condemnation ?

  15. ajeff P says:

    I do think that any church believing in the concepts of heaven and hell and that their theology alone contains the answer to get to heaven is envisioning themselves as an idealized (God-delivered) church that can do no wrong…. and they then end-up with fitting all the expected adjectives that go along with this kind of arrogance – all while saying they are just servants of God….

  16. nexar says:

    Naked P. please can you tell me why the Liberation of Sophia is not being offered in electronic format?


  17. nexar says:

    Is there anyway of posting comments against comments rather than just a long list of comments, please?

  18. nexar says:

    ‘What steps should the Church take?’….

    In my opinion all the Prophets got it wrong by not taking into account the fundamental human drive to dominate to survive. As societies evolved that drive was still there and therefore religions amongst other things are used as stepping stones by the stronger of the species to subdue the weaker.

    Doesn’t matter ‘what steps’ any church takes, until we get a change in the genetics to not need domination things will always end up around here.

  19. nakedpastor says:

    To be honest nexar, I don’t like the nesting format of commenting. But I will reconsider.
    I’m working on the e format for Sophia. It’s in color so it’s making it a bit of a challenge.

  20. Tracey Cullers says:

    I’m not a fan of nesting either . . .

  21. nexar says:

    I’ll go along with whatever format you believe is right. The only reason I like the nested format is so that you can follow a ‘train of thought’ rather than having to read things in chronological order.

  22. nakedpastor says:

    I agree it does have that advantage. The disadvantage though is that comments get so buried that it is impossible to appreciate the whole public response at a glance.

  23. Jeff says:

    Hi I really enjoyed the post. It’s a topic I’ve thought about a lot so I took the opportunity to write a follow-up on possible solutions and approaches to address the narcissistic tendencies within the church. I hope you don’t mind the link.


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