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Dealing With Problems in the Church (Part 1)

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Dealing With Problems in the Church

I. Problems will come.
1. Offences will come, but don't be the person by whom they come (Mat 18:7).
2. Heresies must come to manifest they who are approved (1Co 11:19).
3. Pastors will offend church members (Jam 3:1-2).
4. Trouble is common to all men (Job 14:1).
5. It is a given that problems will come, but what is important is how we deal with them.

II. Some types of problems that will arise in a church.
1. A church member will commit a sin which is witnessed by one or more other church members.
2. A church member will have a disagreement with something the pastor has taught.
3. A church member will have a disagreement with a judgment call the pastor has made in a grey area.
4. A church member will be offended by something the pastor or another church member said or did.
5. The pastor or a church member will not approve of actions taken or choices made by another church member.

III. Some generally important considerations when dealing with any problem.
1. When an offence happens, the following questions should be asked before proceeding:
A. Is the offence/problem public or private in nature? Was it done in front of multiple people and therefore publicly known?
B. Is it a breach of God's law, or an area of liberty or preference?
C. If it is not a breach of God's law, is it worth addressing with the person, or can you live with it?
2. When you disagree with something your pastor has taught, the following questions should be asked before proceeding:
A. Is the disagreement doctrinal in nature, or is it an area of speculation or opinion?
B. Can you live with it if the pastor doesn't agree with you after you have addressed him on it?

IV. How NOT to deal with problems in the church.
1. Backbiting, whispering, and talebearing are three wrong methods of addressing problems which will destroy a church in short order.
A. Backbiting
i. Backbite - v. To detract from the character of, to slander, traduce, speak ill of: a. a person absent.
ii. Slander - v. 1. trans. In or after Biblical use: To be a stumbling-block to; to offend; to cause to lapse spiritually or morally.
2. To bring into discredit, disgrace, or disrepute.
3. To defame or calumniate; to assail with slander; to spread slanderous reports about, speak evil of, traduce (a person, etc.).
iii. Slander - n. 1. The utterance or dissemination of false statements or reports concerning a person, or malicious misrepresentation of his actions, in order to defame or injure him; calumny, defamation.
iv. Backbiting is condemned by God (Rom 1:30; 2Co 12:20; Psa 15:1-3).
B. Whispering
i. Whisper - v. 1. a. intr. To speak softly ‘under one's breath’, i.e. without the resonant tone produced by vibration of the vocal cords; to talk or converse in this way, esp. in the ear of another, for the sake of secrecy. (See also 4a.)
4. With special connotations. a. intr. To speak or converse quietly or secretly about something (usually implying hostility, malice, conspiracy, etc.); also (with negative) to speak ever so slightly, to say ‘the least thing’ about something.
ii. Whispering is condemned by God (Rom 1:29; 2Co 12:20; Psa 41:7).
iii. Whisperers destroy friendships and churches (Pro 16:28).
C. Talebearing
i. Talebearing - The carrying of injurious or malicious reports.
ii. Talebearer - One who officiously carries reports of private matters to gratify malice or idle curiosity.
iii. Talebearing is likewise condemned by God (Lev 19:16).
iv. Talebearers reveal secrets and shouldn't be trusted (Pro 11:13; 20:19).
v. Talebearers are injurious (Pro 18:8; 26:22).
vi. Talebearers cause strife (Pro 26:20).
2. This includes insinuations or questions about someone that will cause doubt.
A. Some examples would be:
i. You suspect or know that Joe and Sally are having marital problems so you mention to a brother, "Joe and Sally don't seem like themselves, I sure hope everything's ok."
ii. You and a brother are talking about another brother who seems to be a genuinely nice person and your brother says, "Well, you know what they say about people who seem too good to be true."
B. This is called evil surmising and it is a sin (1Ti 6:4).

V. The Biblical way to deal with publicly known sins in the church.
1. If the offence is public (it is commonly known among most or all of the church) and it is listed as an "excludable" offence in the Bible, then the church must pass judgment on the person and purge him from the membership of the church (1Co 5:1-13).
2. The lists of excludable offences are found in: (1Co 5:11; 1Co 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:3-5; 1Ti 6:3-5; 2Ti 3:1-5; Rom 1:29-32; 2Th 3:6-14 c/w 1Pe 4:15 c/w Heb 10:25 c/w 1Ti 5:8).

VI. The Biblical way to deal with private sins in the church.
1. Address the person privately who offended you or sinned against God; do not tell other people (Pro 25:9).
A. If a sin or an offence can be covered, then it should be (Jam 5:19-20).
B. Covering a transgression is the loving thing to do, but spreading the matter around will destroy relationships (Pro 17:9).
C. Charity covers a multitude of sins (1Pe 4:8; Pro 10:12).
2. Sometimes loving someone means rebuking them (Lev 19:17; Rev 3:19; Pro 27:5-6).
A. Sometimes an admonition is sufficient (Rom 15:14; 1Th 5:12).
i. Admonition - 1. The action of admonishing; authoritative counsel; warning, implied reproof.
ii. Admonish - To put (a person) in mind of duties; to counsel against wrong practices; to give authoritative or warning advice; to exhort, to warn.
B. Sometimes exhortation is in order (Heb 3:13).
C. Exhortation - The action or process of exhorting, of earnestly admonishing or urging to what is deemed laudable conduct; an instance of this.
D. Sometimes a warning is merited (1Th 5:14).
E. Warn - II. To make aware, to put on one's guard.
2. a. trans. To give timely notice to (a person) of impending danger or misfortune.
3. If the person rejects the rebuke/admonition/exhortation, depending on the how many witnesses there were, there are a couple of options:
A. If you were the only person who witnessed the sin, then you cannot accuse him before the church since such must be done by two or three witnesses (Deu 19:15; 2Co 13:1).
i. In such a case, you would have to wait on the Lord and pray that God would convict him of his sin.
ii. We must not judge before God brings the sin to light (1Co 4:5).
iii. Sin will eventually come out (1Ti 5:24-25; Num 32:23).
iv. God is not mocked (Gal 6:7).
B. If there were two or more witnesses to the sin, then the witnesses could take the matter to the church for judgment.
i. If the person if found guilty by the church, then he will be excluded from membership per 1Co 5.
ii. If the person is found innocent, then the accusers will be excluded for making a false accusation (2Ti 3:3).
C. If you are not sure what to do, you can always ask your pastor for counsel.
i. It is wise to attain unto wise counsel (Pro 1:5).
ii. There is safety in seeking counsel (Pro 11:14).
iii. Without counsel purposes are disappointed (Pro 15:22).
iv. Try to be discreet when doing so and not reveal the person or the sin.

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