Archive for March, 2012

It’s the end of the week, and I’m exhausted, so I thought I’d put together a quick quiz concering what the Bible has to say about the causes and solutions to conflict.

If you finish the quiz – regardless of your responses – you get an automatic “A+” from me.

And if you get all 7 questions right, please let me know.  You’ll find the answers at the end of the quiz.

1. If your relationship with a Christian friend is strained, what does Jesus tell you to do about it?

a. Get a new friend.

b. Tell your other friends about the problem.

c. Tell your pastor about the issue.

d. Talk to your friend directly.

2. In which book of the Bible do we find this counsel: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

a. The Gospel of John

b. Romans

c. Titus

d. Hebrews

3. Many Christians are suprised to learn that the Apostle Paul had such a sharp disagreement with a fellow leader that they parted company.  Who was that believer?

a. Timothy

b. Titus

c. Barnabas

d. Silas

4. True or false?  The NT teaches that God will destroy those who destroy his church.

5. The NT mentions the names of specific troublemakers in its pages.  Which person is not mentioned as a troublemaker?

a. Stephanas

b. Diotrephes

c. Philetus

d. Alexander

6. What does the NT say that a church should do with members who abuse and slander others?

a. Love on them real good.

b. Break their necks.

c. Report them to denominational headquarters.

d. Identify them, confront them, and if they’re unrepentant, remove them from the church.

7. If people in a church accuse their pastor of wrongdoing, which of the following should NOT happen to the pastor?

a. He should be kicked out immediately.

b. He should be treated with dignity and respect.

c. He should be treated without partiality.

d. He should be able to face his accusers in private before he’s accused in public.


1. d

Jesus tells His followers in Matthew 18:15, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.  If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”

Most relational and church conflicts would be resolved if we’d just put that one verse into practice.

2. b

This verse is found in Romans 12:18.  It tells us that while we can control our responses to other people, we can’t control their responses.

3. c

The story is found in Acts 15:36-41 and has been a blessing to many Christians … because try as we might, most of us have found that there are Christians we like with whom we cannot serve.  On this occasion, Paul and Barnabas parted company over the value of John Mark.

4. True.  Paul states in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”

The pronoun “you” in these verses is plural. The temple mentioned here isn’t the temple of our body (as in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) but the place where God dwells with his people. Destroy a church, and God will destroy you. I didn’t say it … I’m merely pointing it out.

5. a

The household of Stephanas is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 16:15 as being Paul’s first converts in Achaia.  John had a problem with Diotrepehes in 3 John 9-10.  Paul had problems with the other two guys in 1 and 2 Timothy.

6. d

But churches today don’t do this.  We prematurely forgive antagonists and troublemakers without ever rebuking them or asking them to repent.  It’s like we’ve cut these verses out of our Bibles because we lack the courage to obey Scripture.

7. a

1 Timothy 5:19-21 lays out principles for dealing with pastors and church leaders in a fair way that are accused of wrongdoing.  Paul tells us in verse 21 that all of heaven is watching the way a local church deals with its pastor.  However, many … if not most … churches restort to option “a.”  If the pastor is accused of doing something wrong, he’s assumed to be guilty and is driven out of the church.  This is a scandalous plague that needs to be eradicated in Christian churches.

How did you do?  Let me know if you got 100%.

I apologize for sending out two of these quizzes prematurely.  I hit the “enter” button twice trying to format the outline.

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Spring training.  Those two words used together have often caused me great joy.

I became a baseball fan at the age of six.  Growing up in Anaheim – 25 miles or so from Los Angeles – my first baseball memory was hearing Vin Scully on the radio calling the Opening Night game between the Phillies and Dodgers … in 1960!

My dad took me to my first ballgame that year.  The Pirates – and Roberto Clemente – beat the Dodgers 5-2 at the Coliseum behind Bob Friend.  I can still see big Frank Howard of the Dodgers, quite an imposing figure, in right field.

The only option I had for going to spring training was Palm Springs, where the California Angels played.  (The Angels trained in California and the other Cactus League teams trained in Arizona.)  My mother took me to a game there in 1969 … but I remember another game in 1972 much better.

Nolan Ryan had been traded from the Mets to the Angels.  While facing the Giants in Palm Springs, Ryan hit three batters in the first two innings … and he threw hard.  Many of us in attendance that day wondered if the Angels had made a mistake trading their most popular player – Jim Fregosi – to the Mets for Ryan (and several other players).

But spring training really came alive for me when my mother and step-father moved to Phoenix.  I was able to stay at their place and visit the eight major league camps with full access to all the players.

Some of my most vivid spring training memories:

*One day in Palm Springs in 1977, Nolan Ryan pitched for the Angels, went into the clubhouse and showered, and then walked around the stands for a few minutes.  (Nobody recognized him).  When he left the ballpark, I followed him outside and asked him to pose for a picture for me.  (I’ll post it if I can ever learn how to work my scanner.)

*Danny Kaye, the entertainer, used to sit in the stands in Palm Springs when the Mariners were playing the Angels.  One time, he sat in the stands right by me, trying to hide from the public.  Didn’t work.

*In 1978, Rod Carew was traded from the Twins to the Angels for 4 players.  When the Angels visited Sun City to play the Brewers, I waited by the Angels’ bus for Carew.  He was carrying a Pepsi in a six-pack holder.  While he signed three cards for me, I took the plastic holder off his hands … and kept it for years.  (If I still had it, could I put it on ebay?)

*I once spotted Angel owner Gene Autry outside the Cubs’ ballpark in Mesa … and Leo Durocher walked right up to him.  I got a great picture of the two of them.

*Speaking of Mesa, Yankee Hall of Fame pitcher Lefty Gomez once worked for a sporting goods company and showed up at Hohokam Park where the Cubs played.  He posed for me, too.

*In the early 1980s, Greg Minton was the closer for the Giants.  One day, my son Ryan crept underneath the stands and found Minton waiting to take batting practice in the cage.  When I asked to take a photo, Minton put Ryan on his lap and embraced him.  Minton signed the photo the following year and wrote, “To Ryan, Take My Job, Greg Minton.”  Priceless.

*Ryan approached Reggie Jackson for his autograph one spring.  Although Reggie can be a first-class jerk, he signed two cards for Ryan … because NBC was filming the encounter.

*In 1984, future Hall of Famer Goose Gossage signed with the San Diego Padres.  At his first press conference at Scottsdale Stadium, Gossage stood against a wall below the upper stands and answered reporter’s questions … while Ryan stood in the stands and tried to take Goose’s hat off his head.  (Another great photo.)

*Jose Canseco of the A’s had a monster season his rookie year in 1986.  The following spring, Ryan got Canseco’s autograph at Scottsdale Community College where the A’s trained at the time … and there was nobody around.  (I took their picture, and although Canseco has turned out to be a jerk, it’s still one of my favorite photos.)

*In 1988, Ryan and I visited the Mariners’ stadium in Tempe.  (The Angels are there now.)  A gangly 18-year-old kid appeared and happily signed autographs for the ten or so of us who were gathered.  His name?  Ken Griffey Jr.

*That same day, the Mariners played an intrasquad game.  When the players were done on the field, they showered, changed clothes, and then sat in the stands.  Ryan and I walked up to players and got everyone’s autograph as many times as we wanted.

*Back in 1999, my daughter Sarah and I went to a workout at the Giants’ ballpark in Scottsdale … and we were the only two people getting autographs afterwards.  When Barry Bonds came out, he asked Sarah before signing, “Why aren’t you in school?”  When I asked him to sign a card, he bent the corner (telling me, “Now you can’t sell it”) and then signed it … and after he left, I just bent it back.

*That same year, Sarah and I drove to Mesa where the Angels once had their minor league complex.  Carney Lansford, former third baseman for the Angels and A’s, was the manager of an Angels’ farm team.  Because Sarah went to the same high school as Lansford (Wilcox High in Santa Clara), they had a great conversation about teachers they had in common.

For years, the great thing about spring training in Arizona is that you had full access to the players.  When they drove into the parking lot, you could meet them as they went into the clubhouse.  After they got dressed, you could meet them going to the practice field.  After practice, most of them would stop for photos or an autograph, and after they got dressed, you could try and catch the ones you missed going to their cars.

That’s all changed now.  The players drive into guarded parking lots.  You can’t get near them when they walk toward the field.  They’re all millionaires … and they act that way.

But I remember a better time … a simpler time … and I will always celebrate the beauty of spring training.

Here are some more current photos of spring training in Arizona:

Giants and Royals in Surprise, March 2010

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There’s a scene in the first Lord of the Rings film – The Fellowship of the Ring – that reminds me of some Christians that I’ve known.

While relaxing in gorgeous Rivendell – right before the Fellowship takes off for Mordor – Frodo reunites with Bilbo.  After Bilbo offers Frodo his sword and the protective Mithril, Frodo unbuttons his shirt to reveal the ring.  The kindly Bilbo tells Frodo how much he’d like to hold it one last time, but when Frodo buttons his shirt back up – indicating he doesn’t want Bilbo to touch it – Bilbo snarls, his face turns hideous, and he lunges at Frodo.

I’ve seen that look before … on the faces of Christian people.

I’m thinking in particular of three kinds of two-faced believers:

First, there’s the believer who praises God on Sunday and dishonors God during the week.

I once knew a man who hit on women at church.  Every week, he’d sit next to or near a different woman, brazenly making his intentions known.  I didn’t find out about his approaches until he hit on a high school girl.  (He left the church right before I threw him off the property.)

One night, I was channel-surfing and ran across a telecast of a worship service from a megachurch in our area.  A man in the front row was singing gustily to the Lord with his hands outstretched.

Guess who?

By the measure of some Christians, the enraptured believer on the front row just HAD to be a spiritual man.  However, I knew differently … and so did the Lord.

I’m reminded of David’s words in Psalm 24:3-4: “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?  Who may stand in his holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart …”

Sometimes we worship God with two faces, don’t we?

Second, there’s the believer who shows one face to their pastor and another to their friends.

I once knew a woman who displayed a face of sweetness and innocence in public.  She developed a reputation as a kind and loving person who wouldn’t hurt a fly.

But there was another side to her that most people never saw.

One time, I confronted her about undermining me.  She completely denied it … and her face resembled Bilbo’s when he eyed the ring around Frodo’s neck.  It was unbelievable.

Now here’s the kicker: she undermined me all the time.  I knew she was doing it, but she never knew that I knew.

She displayed one face around me … and another face when I wasn’t around.

James 5:11-12 says, “Brothers, do not slander one another …. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy.  But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?”

But I can act differently around pastors, too.

Our church just hired a new teaching pastor.  He’s really good.  After yesterday’s service, my wife and I left the worship center and doubled back toward the grill for a hamburger lunch … and ran right into the teaching pastor, who was on the patio after the service.

This is more unusual than it sounds.  There were thousands of people on campus at the time.

Because we enjoyed and benefited from his message, we walked right up to him and told him so.  We engaged in conversation for a couple minutes … and he asked me to send him a copy of my book (which is finished and going out for endorsements).

But imagine that right after the service, I criticized his message instead.  Would I have wanted to meet him?

Nope, I would have avoided him at all costs.

There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Finally, there’s the believer who can see faults in others but not in themselves.

True or false: a Christian should never confront another person about their behavior.

That is so false.

Jesus tells us we can in Matthew 7:3-5.  He asks why we focus on the specks of sawdust in another person’s eyes while ignoring the plank in our own eye.  And then He says:

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (verse 5).

It’s okay for a follower of Jesus to remove small faults from the eyes of other believers … as long as we’ve removed the large faults in our own lives first.

And that process can take quite a while.

I once knew a man who was kind and loving and hospitable.  To me, he was a phenomenal Christian.  He constantly let me know that he cared about me and listened to me and prayed with me.  I haven’t seen him for many years, and I miss him very much.

But he didn’t seem to have time to criticize others because he was so focused on his own imperfections.  He was brutally honest about them, too … and his authenticity drew me toward him.

While he was honest about his own faults, he was gracious toward the faults of others … including mine.

That, my friends, is the indication of a truly spiritual man or woman.  Whether in public or in private, he seemed to wear only one face.

But hypocrites wear two or more faces, depending upon who they’re with at the time.

May I encourage you: wear only one face in all times and places – and before all people.

Just like Jesus did.

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Jesus once summarized the entire Old Testament Law this way:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

God wants us to love Him with our minds.

He wants us to use our brains to distinguish between truth and falsehood and good and evil.

This means that the Lord wants us to critique the culture we live in, the speakers we hear, the books we read, and all that goes on around us.

In that sense, it is good to be critical, as I mentioned two articles back when I asked, “When is Christian Criticism Right?”

However, there are professing Christians in every church who are hypercritical.

They aren’t involved in spiritual ministry and look for flaws in their church and pastor.

Here are two more traits of Christian hypercritics:

For starters, Christian hypercritics rejoice when other Christians fall. 

When a hypercritic hears about a scandal involving a Christian leader, they’re actually happy about it.  As they recount the details to their friends, they feel good inside . . . as if they have ascended a spiritual ladder one rung because someone higher up fell all the way down.

And when someone’s marriage in the church is on the rocks . . . or the teenage girl of a prominent family gets pregnant out of wedlock . . . or a staff member says something stupid in a worship service . . . they love passing on that information to their network and consider it to be good news.

But in the Love Chapter, Paul says that “love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:6).

From a pastoral perspective, when churchgoers publicly sin or privately hurt, it’s not good news, it’s bad news.  God can turn the bad news into good news, but it takes a lot of prayer, love, and time for that to happen.

But the hypercritic rejoices when others hurt because the pain of others gives them something to talk about.

Finally, Christian hypercritics apply ministry to others, not themselves.

When I was in seminary, I took homiletics (preaching) from the late Howard Yim.  One day in class, Howard surprised me with something he said.

After a sermon, a pastor sometimes asks people to close their eyes and raise their hands if they’d like to make some kind of commitment to God as a believer.

Howard mentioned that he sometimes raised his hand after such a message.  I thought to myself, “You do?”

Up to that time, part of me thought that Howard was too cool to need changing.  But when he heard God’s Word preached – even though he taught preaching – his heart was open to the Lord’s work in his life.

I suddenly realized that as a preaching student, I was more interested in how a preacher crafted his message than how that message could impact my life.

Instead of hearing a message and thinking, “I hope my wife’s catching that point . . . and Joe over there needs to listen to that verse with both ears . . . and those gossips in the back need to pay attention to this …” – I’d apply the message 100% to my own heart.

I’d block out everybody else and just focus on what God was saying to me.

Hypercritical Christians won’t do that, though, because they’re critical of everyone but themselves.

As Paul asked in Romans 2:21-22: “You, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself?  You who preach against stealing, do you steal?  You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?  You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?”

A key mark of spiritual growth is that you apply God’s Word to your life, not the lives of everybody else.  Let the Holy Spirit work in their lives … and realize you’re not the Holy Spirit.

I’d write more about hypercritical Christians . . . but I’m coming dangerously close to becoming one myself.

What are your thoughts about hypercritical believers?

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During the old Muppets show on television, Kermit and Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear and Cookie Monster and the gang were doing their best to put on a show on stage with different guest stars every week.

But up in the balcony, two old codgers ridiculed much of what they did.  These self-appointed critics didn’t sing or dance or act (although they were funny at times).  Instead, they hypercriticized whatever the Muppets did.

The spirit of those critics lives on in way too many churches today.

Let me share with you two qualities of a Christian hypercritic (I’ll finish up next time):

First, hypercritics aren’t involved in spiritual ministry.  You might find them on the facility team, or running the soundboard, or counting money – all worthwhile endeavors – but hypercritics tend to avoid getting too close to God.

For that reason, you won’t find them at a prayer meeting, or in a small group, or sharing their faith.

Hypercritics prefer not to stand on the front lines and fight shoulder to shoulder with their fellow soldiers.

Instead, they’d rather do their own thing – while focusing on the backsides of those on the front lines.

In the initial episode of Black Adder (a British comedy starring Rowan Atkinson of Mr. Bean fame), the king calls all able-bodied men out to battle the following morning.  Black Adder oversleeps and meanders toward the battle on his horse … but rides away instead.  When he sees the back of a solider standing by a tree, Black Adder sneaks up and cuts off his head … only to realize that he cut off the head of his own king!

That, my friends, is an all-too-accurate picture of a Christian hypercritic.

Christians on the front lines don’t have time to hypercriticize everybody else.  They’re too busy serving their King and waging war with the enemy.

But hypercritics are rarely visible – possibly so that others won’t hypercriticize them.

Please don’t misunderstand: I am not saying that every believer who isn’t on the front lines is a hypercritic.  (No believer can serve on the front lines forever.)  However, you’ll find most Christian hypercritics as far away from the real battle as they can get.

Second, hypercritics look for flaws in their pastor and church.  Remember what the Pharisees and their allies did to Jesus?  Right at the beginning of His ministry, they watched Him heal a man with a shriveled hand on the Sabbath … and began to plot how to kill Him (Mark 3:1-6).

For the rest of Jesus’ ministry, His opponents spied on Him relentlessly.  He became a threat to their authority and influence, so they tried to find something they could use to discredit and destroy Him.

A few years ago, I took a class on conflict management from Dr. David Augsburger at Fuller Seminary.  During the week, a former megachurch pastor (whose name I knew well) was the class chaplain.  If you wanted to meet with him, he’d schedule a time for you.

I immediately asked if we could have lunch together, and we went out for pizza.  During our time together, he told me how he served the same church for nearly 30 years … and how nasty so many of the people were.  He said no matter how well he preached on Sunday, or how well the services or ministries went, he knew he’d receive a barrage of criticism the next day.

I had visited this pastor’s church and admired it from afar … and had no idea those people were so mean.

Hypercritical Christians find flaws in everything at their church:

*The pastor’s message was too short … or long.

*The pastor didn’t dress appropriately.

*I didn’t like his introduction … or his illustrations … or his applications … or the way he read Scripture … or his attempts at humor … or his accent … or his enunciation … or his haircut … or his voice …

*The music went too long … or we should have had more hymns … or the guitar was too loud … or I didn’t like the soloist … or the mix was bad … or I didn’t know any of the songs … and on and on and on.

It’s one thing to notice things that go wrong at church.  It’s another thing to look for things to go wrong.

Hypercritics want things to go wrong … so they can gripe about them later on.

I guess that makes them feel important … but I have yet to find the spiritual gift of hypercritic in the New Testament.

What are some other qualities of hypercritics that you’ve noticed?

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When I was in seminary, we had chapel four days a week: Tuesdays through Fridays.  (The school was closed on Mondays because most pastors took Monday off after a grueling Sunday.)

I attended chapels on all those days, and sat in the very back row with my friend Dave.  (We both had to leave after chapel ended to go to work.)

While sitting there, I sometimes dreamed about being asked to speak in chapel.

What would I talk about if I had only one shot?

Hypercriticism among Christians.

Let me share three types of legitimate criticism that Christians engage in, and then deal with hypercriticism in my next article.

First, Christians must think critically.  We can’t believe everything a president, journalist, televangelist, or pastor tells us.  We have to test a person’s words both with biblical truth and with reality.

While discussing spiritual gifts – and tongue-speaking in particular – Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “Brothers, stop thinking like children.  In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking, be adults” (1 Corinthians 14:20).

And John writes, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

Just because you like a Christian leader or a pastor doesn’t mean they’re always accurate in their teaching.  All teachers – however eloquent they may be – toy with heresy at times … or ride certain hobby horses into the ground.

We have to learn how to discern truth from falsehood and right from wrong.

This is why I always discuss a pastor’s sermon with my wife after I’ve heard it.

Much of the time, I agree with everything the pastor says.  (My current pastor is right on the money most of the time, which is why I’ve chosen him as my pastor.)

Occasionally, I’ll disagree with his interpretation of a biblical passage or hear a misstated fact.

But there are times when I hear someone preach and my mind is troubled by what I’ve just heard.

Last summer, a staff pastor at my church gave a disjointed message.  He was supposed to preach on a parable of Jesus, but he only spent five minutes on that text.  Instead, he went off on tangents both before and after discussing the parable.  While he was speaking, I told my wife, “Something’s wrong with him.  I have a feeling this may be his last message.”

As it turned out, I was right – and needed to cut him some slack for that reason.

It’s appropriate for churchgoers to discuss a pastor’s message after he preaches.  In fact, I still think every church in America should set up microphones after the message and let people ask questions of the speaker.  Shouldn’t communication in our day be less one-way and more two-way?  And wouldn’t we learn a lot more?

Second, Christians need to critique the culture.  Years ago, somebody taught me that whenever I see a movie, I need to discuss it with someone afterward.

Did I understand the filmmaker’s message?  Was it consistent with Christian values?

Back in the 1970s, some Christian films were released into theatres.  Most of these films were preachy, poorly-acted, and had plot holes the size of the Arizona Meteor Crater.  While they worked on a certain level, they were multiple levels beneath the filmmaking done in Hollywood.

Then along came “Chariots of Fire” in 1981.  That Oscar-winning film raised the bar considerably for films of faith.

I probably see two movies a month in a theater.  The last film I saw was “The Vow.”  Before seeing it, I didn’t know the story was based on real events in the lives of a Christian couple.

For the most part, the film presented the upside of commitment and was consistent with biblical values.

But I thought the film was plodding and plotless much of the time.  My wife liked it more than I did – but we discussed it all the way home.

When we see movies or TV shows or hear music, we need to critique both the message and the methodology involved.

(Someday, if you want to discuss the biblical references in the music of Bob Dylan or U2, let me know.)

Third, Christians may need to be critical when we confront someone.  Jesus was critical of His disicples at times.  Paul was critical of the behavior at the church in Corinth and the doctrine of the church in Galatia.

It’s tough to say to someone you care about, “I’ve been detecting a pattern in your life recently.  I hope I’m wrong, but this is what I’ve seen and heard.  Can you shed some light on this for me?”

When we criticize someone in this manner, we need to make sure our motives are pure.  Galatians 6:1 says that only “you who are spiritual” should engage in this kind of confrontation, watching yourself in the process “or you also may be tempted.”

And we need to make sure that we’re trying to “restore him gently” rather than bulldozing the person with our criticism.

Because although we may feel our motives in a confrontation are pure, the person receiving our criticism may disagree … and we may lose that friend forever.

God gave His people minds, and we need to use them constantly.  (Symbolically, our heads tower over our hearts.)  We’ll need to exercise discernment while listening to sermons, watching movies, or confronting sin in a fellow believer’s life.

This kind of criticism is necessary, healthy, and spiritual.

But hypercriticism is a completely different matter.  Let’s look at that issue next time.

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I’ve been working for more than two years on a book about the unjust ways that many pastors are treated in our day.  The estimate is that 1,300 pastors per month are involuntarily terminated.

I have five small tasks to finish before the book is complete.

Here’s an excerpt:

Why aren’t Christians doing more to combat the forced termination of pastors?

I’m weary of the excuses that Christians use as to why we won’t do more about this issue:

”We need to preserve the autonomy of the local church.”  Of course, but at the very least, we can tell stories, train leaders, expose the template, and teach believers how to deal with pastoral antagonists.  The article “If You Must Terminate a Pastor” on my blog has been viewed hundreds of times (three-and-a-half times more than any other article), an indication that many board members and lay people want help with this topic.

”Pastors must expect to suffer like Jesus.”  We’ve been told we’re going to suffer since seminary, but we had no idea that attacks from fellow Christians could be so vicious.  Besides, Jesus was crucified by religious and political enemies, not by His disciples.  While His men fled when He needed them most, they didn’t drive the nails into His hands.  Jesus was betrayed by only one follower, but pastors are routinely betrayed by staff members, board members, predecessors, and denominational personnel – and sometimes, they work in concert.

”We need to maintain confidentiality about forced exits.”  This is a church wide problem, cutting across all denominations and theologies.  This plea for confidentiality is nothing more than a cover-up for our incompetence in preventing and managing these tragedies – and is exactly what Satan wants.  When professing Christians abuse and batter clergy, and pastors try to talk about it, we rush to hush them up in the name of unity.  But isn’t this the same tactic abusive husbands use with their wives?  What would happen if we still couldn’t talk about that problem?

“Shedding light on this issue is poor marketing for the Christian faith.”  But if we can make progress in alleviating this problem, wouldn’t the image of many churches improve?  Let’s learn our lessons and brainstorm solutions so these conflicts don’t become so destructive.

I’d like to find just a few Christians who are outraged at the way pastors are mistreated today.  In Matthew 23:33-35, Jesus was still outraged at the way God’s leaders had been treated by religious people throughout Jewish history:

“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?  Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers.  Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.  And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.”

Jesus stood alone in condemning these past injustices committed against God’s servants.

Where are His descendants today?

What do you think we can do to eradicate this plague on Christ’s churches?

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