He has a severe identity problem. He may have turbulent shorts of mood ranging from depression to anxiety to irritability and rage. These moods may last from a few hours to a few days with a quick return to a seemingly normal mood. He is intolerant of being alone and frantically tries to find someone to be with so that he will not be depressed. He thinks of his life as being chronically empty and boring.
In church, he will have many people to whom he frantically appeals. There may be from two to twenty people who are seeking to "help" him. He is a topic of frequent conversation among these people, talking about his latest episodes of terror: self-multilation, suicidal gestures, accidents, or fights. Church for this bad boy is not about intimacy with God. Rather, church is a place where there are numerous people who protect him from being alone. When he becomes frantic about being alone, several people in the congregation will be called in rapid succession.
How can the church help the Chaotic Religious Bad Boy?
The whole church can become emotionally exhausted after several crises. The spiritual dilemma of caring for these men is knowing how to be a steadfast, sustaining person and at the same time maintain realistic but considerate limits on his demanding nature.
Therefore, a quiet, patient, persistent quest to help them know the mind and purpose of God in his life, sustained and enriched by the assurance that he is a beloved Child of God, who has a meaning, a purpose, a place, and a loving use for his, is the overall strategy in the church's care of him.
The church needs to be a steadfast community of faith questing with him for growth in his emotional and spiritual life. We need to be a community of encouragement and celebration with him as he gets his life together in God's presence.
Many 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.