In the church, this bad boy really believes he is bad. He sees the world as unjust. He expects the church to be just like he has experienced all his life. Therefore, when he senses any slight or sense of injustness, he quickly backs off and starts to speak of the church as being no different than the world. He quickly proclaims to people in the church, especially newcomers, that "this church is no different." You would think that these feelings would cause him to stop serving in the church but this sense of martyrdom keeps him coming back and verifies his negative feelings which results in negative reactions to him which results in more negative feelings, and on and on. He is caught in a cycle.
What can the church do about this avoidant religious bad boy?
To be a source of slowly growing hope that encourages the beginning of trustworthy feelings is the starting point for helping him change. To do this, clear covenants carefully kept and open to being tried and tested are necessary. As he attempts to break these covenants, we can sustain our relationship by seeing it as a test, not as a personal rejection. Yet, being careful not to promise too much is likewise important. Jesus' wisdom of the invitation, of standing at the door and knocking, of waiting for an invitation, of living in the day that is at hand with no thought of tomorrows, certainly speaks to this bad boy more than do any pressured tactics.
Much thanks to the deceased Dr. Oates from whom much of this information is taken. His seminal work Behind the Masks should be read by those in positions of leadership in the church.
BE A MAN.