Posts Tagged ‘confronting divisive church members’

Imagine that you own a business.  You have ten employees.

Because business hasn’t been going well recently, you have to lay off two workers.

Eight employees are loyal and work hard.  Two have conspired to attack you behind your back and don’t do much of anything.

Your decision is a no-brainer, right?

Now imagine that you’re a board member in a congregation of 200 adults

Ten individuals … meaning five percent of your congregation … have abused, slandered, and attacked your pastor to the point that he has resigned.

As a church leader, what are you going to do about it?

If you follow the New Testament, the decision is simple for you and your fellow board members:

Confront the troublemakers and give them a choice: either repent of your sin or leave the church.

Those who are truly spiritually-oriented will repent.  Those who aren’t will leave the church kicking and screaming … but if you mean business, they will leave.

But how often do board members confront those who pushed out their pastor?

Hardly ever.

Why not?

It could be because board members:

*don’t think the troublemakers did anything wrong.

*are afraid of the troublemakers.

*are friends with the troublemakers.

*are ignorant of the New Testament’s directives on divisive individuals.

*know the New Testament’s directives but choose to ignore them.

*leave the thankless task to an interim pastor.

*reason, “We need all the attendees, donors, and volunteers we can get … even if they are troublemakers.”

*are so exhausted after the pastor’s departure that they don’t even consider confronting anybody.

However … there is a price to be paid for failing to confront the troublemakers, and it’s a high price indeed:

Many of your church’s spiritual, healthy, and valuable people will leave.

Imagine these two scenarios:

Lisa had been away from church for years, but she came back to the Lord because of Pastor Bill.

She rarely missed his sermons … joined a small group … discovered her spiritual gifts and began serving in a ministry … and became a generous giver.

But every Sunday when she comes to church now, she sees five troublemakers sitting together, and she says to herself, “Those are the people who pushed out my pastor.”

If she confronts them, she’s liable to blow her top.  So she stays silent … and simmers … and assumes that nobody ever addressed the troublemakers.

Going to church eventually becomes such an unpleasant experience that she leaves the church for good.

Paul received emails from the troublemakers denouncing Pastor Bill on a regular basis.

At first, the notes made him feel important, but after a few weeks, they upset him and made him feel like a traitor, so he began deleting them without reading them.

But Paul knows the troublemakers were telling twisted lies about Pastor Bill, and he wonders why they seem to be immune from correction.

When it’s time for the church to vote on new board members, two troublemakers are nominated, and Paul feels sick inside.

How can he attend and support a church where the people who attacked and slandered his pastor have been placed into leadership?

So Paul slips out the back door … and never attends that church again.

Dr. Leith Anderson is one of America’s foremost pastors and thinkers.  I had the privilege of taking my last Doctor of Ministry course with him at Fuller Seminary.  In his book Leadership That Works, Anderson writes about the failure of church leaders to discipline church troublemakers:

“The result is that the church keeps the dissenters and loses the happy, healthy people to other churches.  Most healthy Christians have a time limit and a tolerance level for unchristian and unhealthy attitudes and behaviors.”

Do church leaders know that when they ignore divisive behavior they are alienating the very people they need to make their church productive?

If leaders don’t confront the troublemakers, the following things will happen:

*Church morale will plunge.

*Many of the pastor’s supporters will leave.

*Giving will take a dive.

*The church’s heart will be cut out.

*The troublemakers will stay around to cause trouble again.

*The church may never recover.

*God will withhold His blessing until the leaders do what is right.

It’s happening all over America:

When a group attacks their pastor, the troublemakers stay, and many solid Christian people leave.

Doesn’t sound like a good deal, does it?

Then why does it happen so often?


















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