Tell It to the Church

Tell It to the Church  The Biblical Basis for Leader-Led Disciplineby David V. Edling, Senior Ministry Consultant, Peacemaker Ministries Jesus said, “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church…” (Mt.18:17). Throughout history, telling the church that a brother or sister in Christ has become hardened in sin and refuses to repent has proven a difficult task. Today, in our culture of acceptance, obeying Christ and utilizing the authority of the church to deter and turn our friends from a path of sin to a path of repentance continues to be both difficult and rare. The challenge presented by Matthew 18:17 has become almost intolerable to those who have defined the church as a loose association of those “experiencing Jesus” together by enjoying the warmth of fellowship, rich contemporary music, and entertaining speakers.  Adding the element of personal accountability for sin to such a “fun” community ruins the appeal. This is especially true in those churches that historically have practiced Congregational polity where “tell it to the church” has been interpreted as “tell it to the congregation.” Telling the congregation just isn’t something feasible in a “fun” church that is on the move! Furthermore, telling the often-sensitive matters of discipline to a congregation composed of spiritual babies (see 1 Corinthians 3:1-2) as well as mature saints is an open invitation for polarization and church conflict. (Those who do not understand the biblical reasons and necessity for discipline frequently interpret such practices as “judgmental” and “intolerant”.) Polity practices are not the only barriers to the faithful practice of Matthew 18:17. Fear of man, even for biblical church...

Peace on Earth Spring 07 Articles

Peace on Earth Spring 07 Articles  The following articles appeared in the Spring 2007 issue of Peace on Earth.COMPETITION OR COMMUNITY? A STORY OF PEACEMAKING IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA by Molly Routson, Assistant to the Director of International Ministries Who gets the building when a church splits?  What if it wasn’t their building to begin with — who has the right to continue using the facility?  Two churches in Papua New Guinea recently faced this very dilemma, and the pastors were gridlocked in conflict as they tried to protect their congregations’ rights to the building.  But with the help of peacemaker Mick Bandy, these pastors learned to channel their leadership energies toward a peaceful solution that would model God’s reconciling power for their congregations and their community. When Pastor Paul and more than half of the congregation of the Papua New Guinea Bible Church broke off to form a new church, they wished to continue holding their services in the community’s meetinghouse. However, their plans for using the hall competed with Pastor Michael and the original congregation’s plans for the same space. Eventually, their disagreements became so heated that they erupted into verbal and physical violence, and the frustrated village leaders closed the meetinghouse completely. Both sides recognized the damaging impact that their conflict was having on their Christian witness and on their own congregations, but they had reached a point where neither wanted to concede to the other.  And so the meetinghouse remained closed until missionary Mick Bandy offered to try to help them work out an agreement. Although Paul and Michael were the leaders and spokesmen for...

Lawsuits in the Church

Lawsuits in the ChurchThis article originally appeared in the April 1995 issue of New Horizons, a publication of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church denomination.by Ken Sande, Founder of Peacemaker MinistriesBy all accounts, America has become the most litigious society on the face of the earth. In the last decade, civil caseloads have increased by 33 percent, which is five times faster than the increase in our population. As a result, new case filings in state courts now exceed 100 million per year. This amounts to one court case for every two adults in the United States!This surge in litigation is being driven by several factors. To begin with, a lawsuit is often seen as an easy path to instant wealth. In a recent survey, hundreds of Americans were asked how they might become independently wealthy. A generation ago, typical answers would have included, “build a successful business,” “patent a valuable invention,” or “inherit my uncle’s estate.” These answers hardly appeared on the recent survey. Instead, the two most common answers were, “win the lottery,” or “win a big lawsuit.” In other words, many people view an injury as a blessing, because it gives them a shot at a million dollar lawsuit. Another thing that drives litigation is the American preoccupation with individual rights. If we want something badly enough we begin to think that we have a legal right to it, whether it’s a government entitlement or a particular job. And above all else, we think we have the right never to be inconvenienced or offended by others. These attitudes are reflected in many of the ridiculous lawsuits being filed...

It Only Takes a Spark: Managing Conflict in Christian Camps & Conferences

It Only Takes a Spark: Managing Conflict in Christian Camps & Conferences  Originally published in Christian Camp & Conference Journal, March/April 2000.by Dean Ridings “It only takes a spark to get a fire going,” so says the song we’ve sung through the years at many a Victory Circle. Certainly that’s true of the Good News. Sadly, it’s also true of the bad news—destructive conflict. Where there are relationships, there will be conflict. This article takes a candid look at several sources of conflict in the Christian camp and conference arena. Names and specifics are changed or withheld in order to freely share the essence of real-life Christian camping conflict scenarios. The purpose isn’t to take sides or delight in any way in morbid details—like “rubber-neckers” who gawk at an accident. The aim is to show, through a variety of scenarios from various aspects of the industry, that those in ministry are neither immune to conflict nor destined to be destroyed by it when its sparks are fanned into flames. Through the scenarios and “considerations” that follow them, this article’s aim is to help you—the Christian camping professional—to manage conflict effectively so that you can focus your efforts not on extinguishing fires but on advancing the kingdom. “Change your view or leave.” I was 25, fresh out of seminary, and eager when I got my first full-time call as the youth pastor at a large Baptist church. To my surprise, before long the church’s work environment began sapping my spirit. The domineering pastor, a man in his fifties, told me what to do and what not to do: “Don’t let the...

Is it a Time for War or a Time for Peace?

Is it a Time for War or a Time for Peace?by Ken Sande, Founder of Peacemaker Ministries Culture of Peace Booklets Short and easy-to-read booklets provide “bite-sized morsels” on topics related to biblical peacemaking—perfect for giving away to friends and family members! $1.75/ea more info The dreadful terrorist attacks on September 11 have left millions of people around the world wrestling with crushing grief and profound questions. Chief among these questions is, “How should we respond to these evil acts?”This question is especially challenging for those who follow Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. He commanded that we love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. He also said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” These are hard teachings in the aftermath of an attack that has killed thousands of people. Our President and many others have declared this to be a war, and warned us that more people will die before it is over. So, is this a time for peacemaking or a time for war? The answer can be both. But how can both paths be right, especially when they seem to go in opposite directions? Both can be right, because God himself has assigned different paths to different people. The Bible teaches that God has delegated some of his authority to civil governments and assigned them the responsibility of promoting justice, protecting their people from aggressors, and punishing those who do wrong (see Isa. 1:17; Rom. 13:1-4; 1 Pet. 2:13-14). This is a heavy responsibility, especially when it involves the exercise of lethal force—but without this restraint, evil would run rampant and innocent people would...