brush fireJoe McKeever writes an interesting perspective on dealing with disgruntled church members. I describe these people as those who go around setting brush fires. Here is an excerpt (Read the rest here), with a few comments of my own to follow.

Someone–Sister Dee Structive or Brother Big Shott–is stirring up dissension in the church, accusing the pastor of this silliness or that foolishness. On the surface, their criticism appears to be nonsense, and yet some people will believe anything negative. The congregation is disturbed by this business and outsiders are looking around for other churches to visit. Somebody ought to do something and do it quickly.

We have said on this website that when someone in the church attacks the pastor and is stirring up strife in the church, a small group of Godly members should visit the troublemaker and do two things: a) ask “what’s going on?” and then b) listen to their complaint.  If they have a legitimate beef, or if it appears they may have one, the members of the task force return to the pastor and, with his involvement, begin the process of dealing with it.  However, if the individual does not have a sound reason for what they are doing, the visitors kindly but firmly ask them to “cease and desist.”

“Sister Structive, we are asking you to stop this now. It should end.” To my surprise, several readers went found much to disagree with in this approach. They attacked on two points, where we said that the pastor is the last person who should deal with this and that a small group of church members should handle the problem.

“McKeever either doesn’t know his Bible or does not believe it,” one said. “Matthew 18 clearly spells out what the offended party should do, and the pastor is the one offended.”  The others agreed with him. But they are mistaken.

If possible–(he said with a grin)–I’d like to try to clear this up. What Matthew 18:15-17 says is this…

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church.  But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

I completely agree. The one who is sinned against should go to the offender and deal with this.

However, do not miss this point: Anyone slandering and attacking my pastor harms my church and thus is offending me. Furthermore, they are offending the entire congregation. When someone is dragging our pastor’s name in the mud, all the members are the offended party. So, we will do the Matthew 18 thing, and not the pastor.

Notice Joe’s point… “Anyone slandering and attacking my pastor harms my church and thus is offending me. Furthermore, they are offending the entire congregation. Sadly, there aren’t many people who care enough about the Bride of Christ. They care more about a member’s feelings than the name of Christ, the reputation of The Gospel and the congregations in the community. Too many times people in a church that abhor church discipline take it upon themselves to discipline the pastor or other minister (Did you read that closely?) to the point of removing them from the roll (Forced resignation or termination). This happens much more often than you realize or would like to think!

Suggestion: If/when someone says anything negative about your pastor (Or other minister), stop them. Tell them to quit gossiping, go seek peace… restoration… and reconciliation (“As much as it depends on YOU be at peace with all men”). If you don’t act to follow Scripture when one or a few people are lighting brush fires in your church, don’t be surprised when a forest fire erupts and scorches many.