Thursday, January 28, 2010

Is Confrontation "unChristian?"

Make no mistake, I’m on the side of the church. I live and breathe for the Church; especially our local church, PCC. But the greatest threat to the church comes from INSIDE, not outside. I’m speaking of those who are troublemakers AND those who will not take a stand against them; what you might call the bullies & passive types.

I read a TRUE STORY yesterday. A small faction of people in a certain church ran off the pastor. The man was a terrific minister and had the support of a majority of the congregation. But a small group of people made life so miserable for him (through personal attacks & constant criticism) that he finally had to throw in the towel. When a member of the church was asked why the “good people” in the church didn’t rise up and take a stand, she replied…. “Well, someone has to act like a Christian in these things.”

That, I suggest to you, is BIGGER PROBLEM in the church than having troublemakers in the church. The idea that confronting evil doers is seen by many people as “acting unchristian” is unbelievable!

Maybe such people should look at the life of Jesus again. He cleansed the temple one day and didn't act very nice when He did it!

In a typical church you will find some of the nicest people on the face of the earth. They are peace lovers, loving, generous, and kind-hearted. They like to serve and give, to teach and help. But there is one thing that they will shy away from (and run from) above all else - confrontation. To put it bluntly, they wimp out every time the church comes under siege… all in the name of “acting like a Christian.”

I KNOW A CHURCH in which a deacon was suspected of seeing a woman other than his wife. When confronted about the matter he angrily denied it. Then, after he divorced his wife and the two moved in together, he resisted all contacts from the pastor. When he was sent a registered letter asking him to either leave the church or submit to a conference with the leadership, he threatened to take them to court! After all, he insisted, other people in the church have sinned without being kicked out. Everyone caved.

There is a reason why the apostle Paul said, “turn such a one over to the devil for the destruction of the flesh that his soul might be saved” (I Corinthians 5). In other words, “Take him Satan! He’s yours! Bring him back when you get through with him.” It takes confrontation to fulfill this part of the scripture, and people with backbone to do it.

ANOTHER CHURCH has a leading member who feels free to stand up in the middle of the church service during the preaching to prophesy to other members. This interrupts the church service and throws everything into a tailspin. He says he does it because “the Lord tells me to and I cannot quench the spirit.” Meanwhile, the pastor and other members simply accept it because he’s a nice guy and means well. Besides, his family might get upset if someones says anything.

Wouldn’t it be better to just tell the guy to sit down and be quite?

I wonder how a visitor feels when that happens. A family moves into the community and decides to visit this church along with their children, prayerfully considering it as their next spiritual home. In the middle of the service, some member - unknown to them, of course; they know nothing about 'what a great guy he is' - interrupts the proceedings with a harangue about revival or repentance or righteousness. Even if every word he says is on target, the outburst will drive away 90 percent of the visitors.

Let me state the obvious in this case: the problem is not just the “beloved member” who pulls this stunt but also the “good Christians’ who put up with it without saying anything!

Again, the two main forces in a congregation that cause the most harm are those loudmouths who insist on running the show and the sweet-spirited Christian people who wimp out rather than stand up to them. Neither one of these groups LOVES the Lord or His Church ENOUGH. One uses the church for their own selfish purposes, and the other abandons her in its hour of need. One group is just as destructive to the health of the church as the other.

Bullies and cowards have populated the church rolls since the beginning. Even in the early church there was a man named Diotrephes who “loved to have the pre-eminence” among the people (3 John v.9). This problem has always been around. In this case, Diotrephes was refusing hospitality to traveling missionaries and forbidding anyone in the congregation from opening their homes to them, and was also guilty of malicious talk against the apostle John. But John said, “I WILL REMEMBER HIS DEEDS." John was NOT INTERESTED in SWEEPING IT UNDER THE RUG or PRETENDING LIKE IT DID NOT HAPPEN. He was going to call this man into account and administer some Biblical correction by telling it to the church. And this was coming from John, the one known as the “apostle of love.”

The best way to deal with church troublemakers (or a small herd of bullies) is to have a group of choice, mature church leaders who will STAND TOGETHER, ACT together, and SPEAK together. They must be courageous and willing to do whatever it takes to save their church – even if it means confrontation. No one in the church can confront a church bully better than a group of godly men and women who love the Lord, are loyal, and are willing to act like adults. The tyrant has nothing to threaten such a group with; he can’t get them fired. We have employed this method at PCC in the past and it's a contributing reason why our church is so strong, healthy, and peaceful.

There is no excuse for faithful men and women to take the passive route. To say “someone has to act like a Christian in all this” is a cop-out.

It is time for God’s people to decide how much they love the Lord and His Church and be willing to do the unpleasant for the betterment of the whole.


Evelyn said...

Wow! This is so very true. I was drawn to Pastor Glynn church in the late mid seventies. When I heard him on the radio saying how there were a group of people threatening his life because he transported people of dark color/blacks to his church. I said to myself Wow! here is a white pastor taking a firm stand in what he know is right. I attended there approximate thirteen years.

Ron said...


I attended there in the early 80s and remember some of that going on even then. I was impressed at the stand he took and followed his lead; I worked a bus route for eight years while there.