Sunday, March 06, 2005

processing a tough one

A lot of my thought has gone into a tough pastoral issue this week.

Late last year we baptised a new Christian. His testimony was honest and raw. Coming back after the Christmas break, I became aware this new Christian had copped some flak for what he shared.

Sigh. I don’t know the who or what. Not everyone knows about this, yet there is a fair bit of talk in the community. Should I leave it or not? Is this a one off or more sinister? There are 25 new people at Opawa since December. Will hearing some of our history put them off?

Sigh. This morning, after consultation during the week with heads I respect, I took the plunge. In the context of communion I talked about being one body. I described the joy as the body grows (we had welcomed 4 new members), and the pain if one member of the body suffers.

I described some of what happened at and after the baptism in December. I then reminded us of the grace of God, in welcome, reconciliation and forgiveness, that is offered to all at communion. The invitation to take communion this morning was an opportunity to walk with Jesus in a body of honesty and forgiveness and grace.

The coming days will tell if I made a wise call and if the processes I engaged with were appropriate. Leadership is scarey and I’m feeling exposed over this particular call.

Posted by steve at 08:00 PM


  1. I was there and I really respect you for doing that.

    It’s always scarey confronting sin, especially corporate sin…

    I’m young and relatively inexperienced, but I think you made the right decision. You didn’t single anyone out, or blame anyone, but you did point to the pain of one part of the Body and how that, no matter what, it is our pain too.

    It wasn’t about blame but about healing a broken member, and I think that is a wise approach to take.

    Comment by Paul — March 6, 2005 @ 8:37 pm

  2. I wasn’t there, but it sounds right to me…

    Comment by tim — March 7, 2005 @ 7:15 am

  3. I was there too. I have been around Christian circles a long time. I had wondered what had happened to this treasure and as I see it this is the best possible approach. I guess that there will have been some repentance and reconciliation in the background. New Christians should be lovingly nurtured and encouraged as they grow in confidence as part of their Church family. Their growth efforts need to be permitted and defended when necessary, not supressed. You done good Steve.

    Comment by Liz — March 7, 2005 @ 12:17 pm

  4. I wasn’t there, but I respect you for the chance you took to take care of a problem. i’ve experienced the same thing here in Virginia, and we’ve tried to be proactive in talking to any individuals involved, and taking a minute during our corporate worship (which i see as being similar to what you did) to talk about the Body of Christ working together, whether we agree or not. It’s a tough situation, one I’m in way too often.

    Comment by Aaron — March 9, 2005 @ 10:02 am

  5. thanks Aaron. However I’m not sure I would call what I did “taking care of a problem.” It was not really “fixing” anything. It was more acknowledging before God and each other that we are a church on a road trip, not perfect, needing help, wanting to be honest. It was more about voicing struggle. Does that make sense?

    Comment by steve — March 9, 2005 @ 10:13 am

  6. “taking care of a problem” was definitely not the phrase I wanted to use…more like “bringing a problem to everyone’s attention.” (sometimes my brain works faster than my fingers/mouth and the wrong words come out–my apology!). what i see here is people who will talk about one person’s “sin” and it’s threatened to tear down the community we had developed. for those outside our community, they hear about what has happened and don’t want to be a part of the hypocritical Christian (lack of) true community. it’s strange, most of the Christians here have no connection to the emerging church and no understanding of the church needing to function differently to reach those outside our community (outside of a small handful of leaders), while the vast majority of those not a part of the faith community are part of the emerging generation. i’ll be praying for your church, and i’ll stop by the blog again soon!

    Comment by Aaron — March 9, 2005 @ 10:27 am

  7. Steve,
    I have stood on similar ground before and I think that your processing of things before God with sensitivity, grace is wise leadership. I’d also add that the wrestling before hand and throughout is part of what removes it from being interpreted as a personal agenda to ‘get back at or fix things in rage response. I further think it is wise leadership that directs the body to God and the disciplines and ways of being/doing that make us God’s people; where best to come to the Table as you describe. Walter Brueggemann speaks of the church needing to be ‘communities of honest sadness’ where corporate faith means something in reality, blotches and all!

    Comment by Fyfe — March 9, 2005 @ 6:51 pm

  8. if the church is anything at all like other groups of people, then what you said will go much farther than you expect it to go.

    in my work as a supervisor, i’ve found that i only need to gently mention something that is not done correctly, and the people i supervise are all talking about it later when i’m not there.

    now, whether they change their habits in another thing entirely … 😉

    Comment by tammy — March 16, 2005 @ 1:01 pm

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