Theology Corner

Addressing commonly asked questions about Christianity from the perspective of a non-theologian

88. IS YOUR LOCAL CHURCH IN TURMOIL?

Sad may be the best adjective to describe a church in turmoil.  The most common trigger for turmoil is rebellion against a pastor.  Few pastors have the leadership skills to:

 

  • Define a vision (objectives and processes to accomplish these objectives)
  • Mobilize the congregation to focus on that vision.

 

If a pastor has these leadership skills, his shortcomings will be overlooked.  If, for example, he lacks the interpersonal skills required for visitation, the family life pastor, deacons or other church leaders will fill the gap and the congregation will accept that shift of responsibility.  But if the pastor lacks these leadership skills, some in the congregation will begin to turn against him.  They will focus on every personality shortcoming and every performance deficiency.  The turmoil will grow as greater numbers of the congregation become aware of the rebellion.

The leaders of rebellion view themselves as among the Godliest people associated with the church.  They see themselves as empowered by the Holy Spirit, blessed with many spiritual gifts and serving as Christian role models for others.  The leaders of rebellion are not the only ones responsible for the ensuing damage; others, well aware of what is taking place, remain silent.  They share in the guilt.  Frequently, many accusations against the pastor are false or stated out of context; actual shortcomings could often be corrected by proper counseling.  If the pastor resigns, the leaders of rebellion believe their efforts have been vindicated by God. 

False or embellished accusations are called slander and Scripture is clear on this type of sin (Lev 19:16; Prov 10:18; 1 Cor 5:11, 6:10; 2 Cor 12:20; Titus 3:2).  Of course sin always has consequences even for great servants of God (i.e. Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Gideon, Samson, David, Solomon, Elijah and Peter).

Oswald Chambers had some wise words on this subject:

 

“It is impossible to enter into communion with God when you are in a critical temper; it makes you hard and vindictive and cruel, and leaves you with the flattering unction that you are a superior person….There is no getting away from the penetration of Jesus.  If I see the mote in your eye, it means I have a beam in my own.  Every wrong thing that I see in you, God locates in me.  Every time I judge, I condemn myself (Rom 2:17-20).  Stop having a measuring rod for other people.  There is always one fact more in every man’s case about which we know nothing.  The first thing God does is to give us a spiritual spring-cleaning; there is no possibility of pride left in a man after that.  I have never met the man I could despair of after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.”