How often have powerful members of congregations been allowed to undermine the direction of a ministry? How often have rooted relationships, personal preferences or treasured traditions replaced God’s mission at the center of congregational life? How often has unchristian behavior been tolerated to keep from losing members of a congregation? How often has the “tail wagged the dog’ in congregational life? How often have the loudest, most anxious and immature voices carried the congregational day? How often have leaders lacked the courage to exercise discipline in congregational life? How often has the credibility of the witness of the church been compromised by inappropriate attitudes and behavior on the part of Christian folks?
I now believe that effective congregational leaders “speak the truth in love” to Christians who undermine the mission/vision/values of the congregation so that they understand that such behavior will not be tolerated.
I remember a congregation that I served as a specialized transition minister in which a member was sending hurtful e-mails to staff members over and over again. This behavior created hurt and caused an inordinate amount of time spent in response to false and misleading accusations. Many efforts were made to address the concerns, but the e-mails continued for weeks, even months. No response was adequate! Finally, two elders agreed to address the person with a cease and desist requirement, knowing this may result in the departure of this person and others from the congregation. In this case, the e-mails stopped immediately and the person remained a “quiet” member of the congregation. All congregations need leaders of the ilk of these two courageous elders. The positive impact of their action on the health of the congregation is difficult to measure, but tangible, nonetheless.
What resonates with you in this regard? What action steps are you willing to take? How will you be held accountable for these steps?