Monday, November 06, 2006

Confronting Leaders

For the second time in 6 months a high-profile evangelical leader has been found to be in sin. Now, I have no wish to delve into salacious details or pontificate about hypocrisy. I am all to aware that if I had been present when Christ said, "Let the one without sin cast the first stone," I would not have been the last to slink away. But there is a trend here that I have been thinking about for the last 3 days.

An accusation comes to light. A leader is lovingly confronted by men who love him. Lies are told and smoke screens are thrown out. After a passage of time the leader acknowledges that he did indeed sin and tried to cover it up.

So, I have been wondering how you avoid this. I have a thought (of course! I am a blogger. Duh!) But I would like to hear the thoughts of any who read this as well. So here is the scenario. You are a church leader. It has come to your attention that the pastor has been involved in some kind of behavior that is not in keeping with the scriptural qualifications of elders. How do you handle it?

My initial thought

I would pray about it and of course be sure that there is some substance. (Although, often in this day and age even a baseless charge needs to be dealt with carefully.) I would then share with my fellow leaders the information I have. Some will say I have just jumped out of Matthew 18 and I am aware of that. I will explain why. After praying with the other leaders for forgiveness and repentance and making sure that we are in the right frame of mind and spirit to confront sin, I would lay out the accusation to the pastor. I would then ask him to no speak. I would ask him to take some time and get before God in prayer about how he should handle the situation. I would then schedule a meeting later to hear his reply. I would make it clear that we would wait to hear his response before passing any judgement.

My rationale

In both situations that I referenced above, a man was confronted with strong accusations. He immediately replied and went into "spin" and damage-control mode. My first impression is that some consideration needs to be made of the society in which we live and the human nature that we are saddled with. By confronting such a leader fairly and openly and then giving him time to think about his reply instead of getting his reaction I think that we would open up the door for immediate confession and start quickly on the path of reconciliation. A moral lapse like these 2 cases means that such a man is not going to be eligible for ministry. But why compound that crushing news by setting the man up to lie and dissimulate? My rational for confronting corporately instead of first confronting individually is this. I think that these kinds of accusations have a large corporate component. I think they require corporate response. This is not an issue between me and a brother. It is a problem between the flock and the pastor and it requires handling at that level.

Well, that is my well-considered (ok, three-day) opinion. I look forward to hearing your remarks.

1 comment:

ricky said...

Jon,

I have often wondered the same thing. It is indeed difficult to confront someone who you look-up to follow. My own heart, as I have considered putting myself in the same situation, wishes that is all a big misunderstanding. Yet, when the truth is so apparent that there is no other option, you must confront.

Personally, I have not thought this through, I am merely shooting form the hip. Paul speaks rather sternly to various people/churches telling them not to tolerate false teachers. I would argue, based on the nature of the qualifications, that actions and conversation (King James) is linked very closely to the leaders teaching. Therefore, as a false teacher, the church is told to deal very sternly with him. I think that you are right. It is a leader/corporate congregation issue. It should be handled as such.

On the other hand, leaders in the first place, should not put them selves beyond personal accountablilty and fellowship with other believers. I think that that is the safety net in a plurality of elders. It doesn't put one man on his own in the spotlight.

I will think about it some more. There I took you soapbox! :) I look forward to hear from other commentors.