Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What destroys churches

jim cymbala is a pastor in new york city who has written some amazing books about how an amazing God has worked in his church. you ought to read some of them. i came across a story he had written in a leadership journal i read each week...

what destroys churches...

about 20 years ago, I said something impromptu to the new members (of my church) standing in a row across the front of the church. As we received them, the holy spirit prompted me to add, "and now, I charge you that if you ever hear another member speak an unkind word of criticism or slander against anyone--myself, an usher, a choir member, or anyone else--that you stop that person in mid-sentence and say, 'excuse me, who hurt you'? Was it pastor cymbala? Let's go to his office right now. He'll apologize to you and then we'll pray together so God can restore peace to this body. But we won't let you talk critically about people who aren't present to defend themselves.'

"I'm serious about this. I want you to help resolve this kind of thing immediately. And know this: if you are ever the one doing the loose talking, we'll confront you."

to this day, every time we receive new members, I say much the same thing. That's because I know what most easily destroys churches. It's not crack cocaine, government oppression, or even lack of funds. Rather, it's gossip and slander that grieves the holy spirit.

I'm blown away by his boldness. Could we do this?

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