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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Calling Out or Creating Division

I've recently started a conversation that I sensed God calling me to have with a local pastor here in Dayton who is a godly man, devoted husband/father, diligent leader, and all-around good guy. He's a pastor who loves his congregation and been with them through good and bad times. He is gracious and humble, but not willing to back down from challenging his church to deeper waters. Which leads me to the nudge I got from God...

...Twice in two months I heard him call out other churches/pastors in the area in front of his congregation for being something other than what he thought those local churches and it's leaders should be doing to advance the Gospel in south Dayton. They came across as something other that what a pastor should be doing. It seemed to me that he was talking negatively about other churches So I followed a nudge that I sense was from God to talk to him about these two incidences.

We had a healthy conversation about my thoughts, concerns and cautions about calling out other churches in the area and their dysfunction especially in front of the congregation. He was thoughtful and open to what I had to say and the dialog continues to take place. Really good stuff.

Here's my question: Is it healthy for the pastor of a church to call out local churches and pastors (in front of his own congregation and specifically, but generally) when those churches don't meet up to his understanding of our Gospel mandate and fulfillment of the Great Commission? Is he right in calling out their dysfunction in front of the congregation? What is the difference between that and others calling out religiosity of the day that seems to steal away from the passion and purpose of Jesus' life and calling to his followers? Does this create division or bring health and unity to the Body?

I'm curious and open to your insight. Your perspective would be appreciated. Thanks!

3 comments:

ckd said...

I'll bite...

Here's my approach:

I'm comfortable "calling out" other churches in the abstract - "there are churches out there who teach that heaven is full of marshmallows and chocolate." - but I feel like I cross a line of civility and respect if I "call out" a specific church - particularly one in our community - one where our congregants may have friends & family - one where although we may have doctrinal differences, we are still brothers and sisters, doing our best to advance the kingdom in Central IL.

To me, if you're going to call out local churches by name, then you should also be calling out your own congregants by name. And, while you're at it, why don't you just name your own sin. And, come to think of it, you should probably make sure that your without sin in your own camp before casting stones at other churches.

But, I may have a more liberal definition of who are my "brothers and sisters in Christ," than your friend. If he sees them as heretics and false teachers, maybe that's different - but before "going public," shouldn't there be private conversations a la Matthew 18?

Twice, in our short history as a church, we've had guest speakers cross the line (at least in my opinion) and got to close to naming a particular church in our community. In both instances, I met with the speakers and explained to them that because I felt they were too close to "naming names," we would refrain from podcasting their talk.

But, in both cases, the speakers felt justified in what they said - and I don't think they agreed with my decision.

Matt and Toni Rings said...

Seth,

You did the right thing. And @CKD you are on the money, too...

Biblical and loving confrontation that required "leadership" by you.

Cheers,

Matt

Seth said...

Thanks for the perspective, fellas. I know how it is to be young, passionate about what you do and think others need to be doing the exact same thing (or pretty close to it). You kinda get caught up in your own hype and current that God's got you flowin' in.

This guy has a great heart and may have gotten a bit carried away. It's all good calling out the Church or a pervasive religiosity in general or cultural christianity, but when you start going after a group of pastors and/or "those churches that don't do 'church' like we do", that seems to be where you cross the line to unhealthiness and spiritual superiorism (just made that up. Aren't I spiritual!? haha).

This guy never called out specific names of pastors or churches, but said stuff like not wanting to get together with a group of pastors who only pray and never do for the community and telling people from the pulpit that there are other churches in the area that just care about numbers in the pews and not doing anything to reach out. I think his heart is right, but the expression of that was off. Just me.

The Hunger Site

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