Ask Your Preacher
I have a question regarding placing membership in a congregation. What if there are no suitable congregations in the area? What I mean is, the congregation I have been attending for years appears to be veering away from strictly following the gospel. Or, to say the least, I have some issues with the leadership there (I know for a fact that there are at least a couple other people that feel the same way). Recently, I have been attending elsewhere and have noticed that they have someone I know (who came forward at my original congregation as an adulterer) who appears to be slowly working themselves into more prominent positions in that congregation. All the other congregations in the area are either not faithful or far from home. I know first-century Christians had to deal with far more than this, but it can be discouraging. What is your advice?
Dear The Wanderer,
When we read of the struggles of the seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2 and 3 or when we see that the church in Corinth was condoning a man who had his father’s wife (1 Cor 5:1) and had doubts whether Jesus was actually raised from the dead (1 Cor 15:3-8), we are left realizing that the early churches definitely were full of imperfect people trying to live by a perfect Word. What you need to do is ask whether or not a congregation is trying to be faithful to the Bible and to Christ as Lord. We can, and should, put up with a lot of individual differences as long as there is an honest interest to still do what the Bible says. However, once Bible preaching and Bible authority are exchanged for “itching ears” preaching (2 Tim 4:3), that’s the time to find somewhere else.
It can be extremely hard when you feel a congregation is slowly changing course, but remember, you can also be a voice to help them drift right back to where they ought to be.
Our preacher has really let his "preacher's house" go to a shambles. They let their dog urinate all over the house, and it really smells. Their kids have destroyed many things, and the yard is a mess. Now the real problem is that the preacher's wife is always complaining that nobody will let them be hospitable and come over because people keep turning down their offers. I'm sure it’s because of the state of their house. I went over for a Bible study once, and I could hardly breathe; it was so bad. We don't have elders, but some of the men have brought this to his attention. He hasn't said much, and nothing has really changed. I'm afraid the place will need to be gutted if he ever leaves, and we will be stuck with the bill. This is a very tough spot for us all, and I could really use some advice on how we should handle it. Thanks!
We’re afraid we have no easy answers for your question. We’ll assume from how you worded your question that the “preacher’s house” is owned by the congregation, and he is allowed to live in it as long as he preaches for you – an arrangement typically called a ‘parsonage’. If we are wrong, and this house is actually owned by the preacher – the answer is: “do nothing; it’s his house and his concern”.
However, if it is a parsonage, here is the issue – the congregation is responsible for how it uses the finances it has collected to do God’s work. The congregation must be faithful stewards (1 Cor 4:2) of both the liquid assets (money in the bank) and assets like property (such as a church building or a parsonage). It is perfectly appropriate for the congregation to “pay” the preacher by allowing him to stay in the parsonage. His labor as a preacher is being accepted as rent instead of money (1 Tim 5:18). However, he is also, in a sense, still a renter. You have paid him by giving him the parsonage; you have paid him by allowing him to live in the parsonage. Now some congregations can take it too far and feel that they have the right to barge into the parsonage whenever they like, nitpick the preacher’s wife’s décor, etc., but the opposite is also true. If a preacher is being a “bad renter” and destroying the property, the congregation must seriously consider addressing him on this issue and create an enforceable plan of action.
A youth pastor is going to different families in the church and saying that he thinks two particular teens are having a homosexual relationship. He has not talked to the youths themselves or their parents. What kind of action would you suggest be taken in regards to this youth pastor?
Not A Gossip Girl
Dear Not A Gossip Girl,
Homosexuality is a sin (Rom 1:26-27), and to slander someone with such an accusation is a heinous crime indeed. We are never to gossip or slander people (Pr 10:18, 2 Tim 3:3). The Scriptures teach that if we believe someone is living a sinful lifestyle, we should talk to them individually first before escalating the issue and exposing their sin to others (Matt 18:15-17). There are multiple reasons for this:
- You might be wrong and have misunderstood the situation.
- Individual confrontation keeps a situation as private as possible and, therefore, allows people to save face.
- It avoids gossip and making a situation larger than it needs to be.
- God says to do it this way (most importantly!).
This “youth pastor” (that title alone tells us there are further problems at your congregation – we recommend you read “What’s In A Name?” and “Elders”) is completely wrong in not confronting the individuals personally. If he is right, then their souls hang in the balance. If he is wrong, then the situation could be corrected privately the way God intends.
Do you believe once we have accepted Christ as our Savior, yet keep falling short, trying, not always succeeding...repenting, changing, then fall again... will He still take us into His loving arms if our lives ended today?
Never Good Enough
Dear Never Good Enough,
Yes. If you have taken the steps to become a christian (read “What Must I Do To Be Saved?”), then the rest of your life will be a collection of victories and failures in spiritual growth. The key is to never give up; always get back up and try again (Pr 24:16). When we sin – and admit it – God is righteous and ready to forgive us (1 Jn 1:8-9). Always be honest about your failures and sins (1 Jn 1:10). God is ready to forgive us an innumerable amount of times as long as we continue to repent (Matt 18:21-22).
My question is in response to "I'm Sorry-ish”. I understand why it's important to apologize when you have wronged others, but what if they are the kind of person who would prefer to "sweep it under the rug" vs. being confronted with it and put in an uncomfortable position?
Dear Saving Face,
That post was dealing with someone that wanted an apology; the situation you bring up would be entirely different. 1 Cor 13:5 says that “love does not seek its own”, and 1 Cor 8:1 points out that “love edifies”. The point of apologizing to someone is to rectify a situation and make things better. The idea is that you are bringing resolution to a damaged relationship, reconciling by humbling yourself to apologize (Matt 5:24). However, if the person has “swept the issue under the rug”, there is no need for resolution… the situation is already resolved.