April 15, 2013

Is It Every OK to Ask a Person not to be a Part of Your Church?

While we believe that all people are children of God, can some stir up so much trouble and conflict that we might ask ourselves if they shouldn't be a part of our church? This is a difficult question; because, as Christians, we believe that we should love and accept everyone, no matter what. But what if accepting some people promises to damage the church community itself.

Here I'm not talking about differences of opinion, theological perspective, or lifestyle. I'm talking about people who are so toxic that they kill every church they become a part of. While there will always be people we don't like and who don't like the pastor and/or the parsonage family, that's not the point. The people I'm talking about are totally insistent on their own way or are so power hungry that they bully others. So if we love the church and want peace of mind for our spouse, what, if anything, should we do?

We might like to think that these toxic people are sick (spiritually or mentally) but sometimes these people are simply so unhappy that they can't stand when other people are happy. Or they are so controlling and insecure that they can't share--their time, gifts, talents, presence, or witness. Or perhaps they have simply turned away from God and the joy of salvation. True, they may need God in a mighty way, but...

But we are also not the pastor. We spouses are laypeople of the church, so any action or inaction we might take will be complicated by our ambiguous role in the church.

Sadly, most of us know people like this in our churches, if not this church, a previous church. My stance is to be civil to these folks, so as not to add fuel to the fire, but I don't invite them into my home and I don't pretend that we are friends. And I pray for them. But I also don't allow anyone to bully another person in my presence. In these situations, humor works best. So if one of these people complains, I typically say, "You're joking, right?" That comment usually knocks them off balance enough that other people have some space to say what they think as well.

The church is a hospital for sinners, but it can't be an emergency room for only a select few.

Your thoughts?

Grace, Kathy

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