One of the things I dislike about the American church is our tendency to sweep issues under the rug.
Rather than deal with problems with honest integrity, we too often hide and cover the problem as if the truth were something that would damage the church.
What is ironic is that this behavior is practiced by those who claim to follow one who declared himself to be THE TRUTH (See John 14:6).
Recently I was invited to a “town hall” meeting for a church that is recovering from changes in its leadership. Those changes resulted from problems in the church that were not handled correctly.
When elders brought problems to the attention of their fellow elders and staff, the pastors rallied a majority of the elders to persecute those who brought up the issues rather than actually deal with those issues. Those who sought to address the situation in a Biblical manor were demonized by the cabal composed of the lead pastor and a few elders who followed him unquestioningly.
Needless to say, the problems that were not immediately addressed, created chaos in the church. One-third of the elder board felt they had to resign because they were not allowed to speak into the situation and were helpless to affect positive change. In the end, one pastor resigned and another was fired.
What frustrates me about the “town hall” meeting is that rather than reaching out to the elders who left because they were treated badly for bringing up the issues, the new leadership is attempting to convince the congregation that they have a plan to move forward. But, that plan does not involve reconciliation with the demonized elders.
Nor does the plan include reaching out to the members who left that church because of how the leaders were treating them.
Rather than apologizing to the wounded members who left, the new leaders seem to be hoping that they will just come back. This is the proverbial sweeping the dirt under the carpet and hoping that no one notices the bump.
Unfortunately, the fired pastor will likely get hired by another church and cause similar destruction because he was not dealt with in a Biblical fashion. The pastor who resigned will likely create the same type of division in his next position. The members who knew and respected the demonized elders will be confused by the lack of transparency in the whole process and those who have not already left the church may consider doing so.
All this because none of the sin and error has been effectively addressed.
What is puzzling is that I cannot see anywhere in Scripture where this tendency to cover up is condoned or encouraged.
We see in the New Testament that the Apostle Paul addressed problems directly and even commanded the Corinthian believers to excommunicate an unrepentant violator of the law. In other canonical letters, Paul named names of those who were causing problems with an indication that people should stay away from them.
Paul taught that error should be corrected through the application of Scripture to every issue. The correction should be done with an appropriate amount of visibility. Public sin should be handled in a public way. False teachers should be renounced and they should have no platform for spreading error.
In my own denomination, every member vows to pursue the “peace and purity of the church”. Purity and peace must be had together.
We cannot have purity if problems are ignored or the one who identifies the problem is demonized. While sweeping it under the carpet may, on the surface, seem like the best path to peace,, without purity, you will likely not have peace in the end.
Any peace worth having must be based on purity. The one who is The Truth won’t have it any other way.