Saturday, March 28, 2015

When a Church Needs to Apologise - A prophetic mandate for Senior Leaders

There are a lot of people who have been hurt badly by churches, leaders, elders. Yet these same leader believe they are OK with God because they are "The Church" and can do no wrong. Yet the church as is represented in the USA has all kinds of iterations, some of whom are really disfunctional.  All quality of leadership, some really egotistical and narrow. All types of success and failure, some very misdirected and decieved in their error.  Still there is an untouchable quality that exists because of the flawed belief that Anointed can do no wrong. This is pride not of God.

Matthew 18:33
And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’

Romans 13:8  Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

That attitude is not the record of scripture. The most anointed in the Bible were those most willing to repent, say I'm sorry, say I apologise.  The list is long of those so deigned.  David after Nathan confronted him.  Peter after denying Jesus.  The idea of reconciling ones self to fellow believers as Paul and Peter did after they came to odds with one another.  People needed to reconcile and did.

John 13:35
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

I know people who for years were faithful in supporting a church and it's leaders, financially, sacrificially and in their time (the stuff life is made of).  Yet over some issue or perhaps just moving on they withdrew.  The leadership never reached out to them.  Never said, "We miss you".  Never made an attempt to see if there was a reason they separated themselves.  They are therefore devalued further.  It's fatal arrogance to do so. 

Romans 12:14-21
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. ...

Making peace even with those who have left you, with those who did you wrong, with those who have hurt you, with those no longer of your fellowship is essential to your further development as a fellowship.  Making peace means you must as a leader go to them and do your best to reconcile.  Not so they come back but to make the separation peaceable.  This means in most cases you must be the bigger man (or woman) and take the first step.  Apologize.  Even if they don't receive it, you must get closure.  A person who leaves a fellowship out of order will always be out of order.. but a leader who allows a person out of order to leave without closure leaves an open wound.  If you want the truth, it is your pride as a leader to say I'm sorry for hurting you.  Don't send an elder to do it.  Be the called man or woman of God and take charge of the situation.  Be a bridge to healing hurts.

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

The mentality that is at issue here is, "God needs to prune people out of the church for us to move on".  That's not true.  God doesn't build his body to see it destroyed by enmity between saints, and particularly between leaders.  If you looked at the roll of all those who are no longer with you in the last 10 years, it might stun you.  You know their names.  You know where they live.  You have their phone numbers.  You must take the first step.

Hebrews 12:14-15
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

Here's the prophetic mandate.  You as the leader or leaders of the church as much as it is possible, must reach out to those saints who were once an integral part of your church (not passers thru) and attempt to make peace.  Peace is the foundation on which church health is based.  You go say, "I wish our lives had stayed together.  You were really important to us".  Don't do this anticipating that they will return.  In fact encourage them to be as great wherever they have found new fellowship as they were with you.

 Matthew 12:25
Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.

Allow the old hurts to be aired.  It will be painful. Yet it will be essential.  Healing that starts with surgery always hurts.  Your church needs to apologise to those people it has hurt.  Healing can begin.  It can become a safe place once more.  That will call in the lost.

Matthew 5:23-26
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. 

  1. Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
  2. Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
  3. Proverbs 16:5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.
  4. Proverbs 29:23 One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
  5. Galatians 6:3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
  6. James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
  7. Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
  8. Proverbs 21:4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.
  9. Proverbs 12:9 Better to be lowly and have a servant than to play the great man and lack bread.
  10. Luke 11:43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.

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