Speed Racer Revisited

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 9, 2009 0 comments

A few weeks ago I posted a blog entitled “Dealing With an Institution: Racing Toward the Answer.” In it I discussed some problems that I and many other pastors and lay leaders see within the church. The response has not been surprising, but I believe that I need to comment on this topic again.

Using Scripture as our guide, let’s look at I Timothy 3:1-13. I will stay away from the hot topic of whether or not women should be in church leadership and focus on verses 2-4. It says that whoever seeks to be an overseer should be above reproach, self-controlled, the husband of but one wife, etc. It also states that he must manage his family well and ensure that his children obey him with proper respect. Read verse 5 to see why this aspect is so important.

I understand that people have things happen that are out of line every now and then, so I am not writing about an instance that occurs every once in a while. But in a broader sense, how can we put people into leadership in the church when we know that they have family issues? Or how can we support someone preaching from the pulpit who has just gotten a divorce or is a practicing homosexual? How can we allow this when Scripture provides such blatant guidelines? Galatians 6:1-10 has the answer. It states that those who are spiritual should gently restore those who are caught in a sin. We are to carry each other’s burdens, and, in this way, we will fulfill the law of Christ.

Let’s think outside of the box. How can we restore someone gently? First of all, we need to address the situation. Consider if what we think is happening actually is. Secondly, if this person is involved in sin (keep in mind that every situation is different), he should be removed from leadership for a time. Let me elaborate on what I mean. If the pastor is involved in a sin, those in lay leadership should have the integrity and guts to call this pastor onto the carpet. Reveal the truth and offer grace.

What might this look like if a pastor is going through a divorce? One thing that the leadership could do is to tell the pastor and his wife that he is going to be out of the pulpit and leadership for a specified amount of time, such as 6 months. The leadership can offer to pay part of his salary and pay for marriage counseling in order for them to reconcile. Reassure the couple that the church is there for them, loves them, and is seeking God’s guidance (For example: A prayer and fasting time held by the leadership of the church or maybe even the whole body). After the specified amount of time, the leadership can reevaluate the situation and seek God’s direction.

We need to hold each other accountable. We need to restore each other gently. Most of the time, this does not happen. We either simply run these people off or accept them in their sinful state without helping them recognize their need for repenting of their sin and asking for forgiveness.

My friend Angela here in Ohio refers to this concept in our next podcast, which will be posted on Feb. 16th. She refers to the similarity between the church today and the Israelites in I Kings 18:16-46: The Israelites are dancing around the altar of Baal and cannot choose between two opinions. Here’s one last thought as I finish. Another friend of mine just told me this on Friday: “Truth without grace is judgment. Grace without truth is license.” I think this statement rings true! Speak the truth in love.

For more reading, check out Matthew 18:15-20.