The Power and the Glory



The Power and the Glory

Episode One: The Power and the Glory

The church is often in the news for the wrong reasons. Across the Anglosphere, from Sydney to Seattle to Chicago to Watford, we find a repeating pattern: a charismatic leader emerges, drawing together a large crowd of eager disciples. People travel from far and wide to see the awesome move of God and to honour the leader who has enabled it. Yet from early on there are questions: the leader is authoritarian and controlling, misogynist and ‘handsy’, or has a not-very-secret addiction. Those close to the leader are determined to make things work: after all, God is doing a new thing and there are bound to be some rough edges. Critics put God’s work at risk and if they won’t be quiet then we may have to shun and exclude them, even publicly shame them. However, the whistleblowers begin to find each other and start to be believed. Those on the outside don’t understand how such bad behaviour could be tolerated for so long. Those on the inside aren’t too sure either.

In each case the story reads like a catastrophe – something so out of the ordinary that we can’t imagine anyone would ever let it happen again. Yet when we step back we realise that it is happening over and over again, all over the world. Is it inevitable that those who have power will abuse that power? Is the personality type that is able to attract large numbers the same personality type that is able to abuse others without remorse? Since the fall of feted and well-known Christian leaders is something that harms those both within and without the church, we felt it was a topic worth reflecting on as a group. And we believe that within the resources of scripture and tradition, and our own life experiences, there are clear pointers to other ways of leading that better reflect the way of Jesus.

Twice a week over the next three weeks we are going to share the results of an online conversation between all four associates of the Northumbrian Collective, which evolved (on and off) over many months. It was originally provoked by the news in 2023 that Mike Pilavachi, the leader of the Soul Survivor movement, had stepped down after a number of former members made claims of abuse, which were subsequently substantiated by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team. We’ve decided to let these imperfect and incomplete conversations out into the wild at this time as a response to the film Let There Be Light, but since our experience of church and other organisations is much wider than Soul Survivor, we hope that our thoughts and reflections will also resonate in the various contexts in which you live and work.

We hope that this more conversational approach will give you an insight into why we think our upcoming foray into the world of podcasting is such an exciting prospect. We are four people who are actively working out what it means to follow Jesus, yet our experiences and personalities are so different that even when we agree with each other we seem to do so in diverse ways! In each of the following posts all four of us will respond to some challenging questions about how we have got to this point and how we might find a Christlike way out of this dark forest. Please share these thoughts with others and help to continue the conversation among friends and your own networks. If you would like us to come back to any issues in more depth remember you can always contact us at

In the meantime, please sign up for regular updates from the Northumbrian Collective and we’ll see you again on Friday for the next part of this blog, in which the four of us talk about our own experiences of when leadership goes bad.

If you’re concerned about a person or situation in a church context and need information or support, the leading experts on church abuse are

Whatever your concern – recent or non-recent, if it relates to safeguarding or even if you’re not sure –  Mon you can call Thirtyone Eight – Fri, 9am – 5pm, on 0303 003 1111.

In an emergency, especially if someone is in immediate danger of harm, you should always call 999 straight away and ask for the police.

Image Credit: Dall-E

Picture of About the Author

About the Author

Simon loves helping individuals, churches and organisations through times of change and re-envisioning, and bringing together the people and resources needed to turn dreams into reality. He is also a gifted teacher and preacher and a member of the British and Irish Association for Practical Theology.

More Posts by Simon Hall