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Topic: A friend's church situation - what do you think?

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Subject: A friend's church situation - what do you think?
Date Posted: 6/17/2008 11:17 PM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2006
Posts: 6,060
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My friend just got kicked out of his church's music ministry (he's been a part of it for over 10 years), because he is living "out of wedlock" together with his girlfriend.   His pastor told him he cannot have any "visible" leadership position in the church because that would be seen as the church condoning this behavior.

He was also told he cannot tell anyone why he is no longer with the music ministry.  If asked, he is supposed to say, "I'm taking a break".  And my friend is pretty sure that they won't have any problem with him still mowing the lawn or doing dishes, other ministries he does around the church.  It goes without saying they'll still accept his weekly pledge.

Now, he and his girlfriend have been living together for a year.  She joined the church after she met him.  This came up now because the new church directory is being put together, and someone noticed they have the same address.  Supposedly, no one higher up in the church realized they were actually living together before now.  Since this is a small church, he is very active in it, and they have not made it a secret they are living together, I have a very hard time believing this. 

I don't agree with living together without marriage either (and truly wish my friend didn't), but I also don't think this is the appropriate way to handle the situation.  It just seems judgmental to me.   What do you all think?

Date Posted: 6/17/2008 11:31 PM ET
Member Since: 6/10/2007
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Well, I agree with him not holding a leadership position, but I do not agree with him being told not to tell anyone why he was removed. I think that's up to him.

Date Posted: 6/18/2008 7:13 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
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*I hope you don't mind the outsider voice.  I apologize if anyone is bothered by my posting here, but I wanted to share my thoughs:

I think the church is within its rights to say he can't hold a leadership position.  But this part bugs me:

He was also told he cannot tell anyone why he is no longer with the music ministry.  If asked, he is supposed to say, "I'm taking a break"

It strikes me as the church instructing him to lie to people, which seems to me to be at least as much of a problem as his living situation.

 

Date Posted: 6/18/2008 7:41 AM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2006
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I believe Kari and Michelle are  right.  It is one thing for the church to tell him that he cannot hold a leadership position but telling him to lie about it is not right at all. 

Date Posted: 6/18/2008 7:49 AM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2006
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Yeah, the being told not to tell anyone is one of the things that bothers me most too.   I asked him, "so what are they going to do if you DO tell? Kick you out of the church all together?"  - he didn't know.

I have another question, just curious on people's opinions.  Do you consider music ministry to be a "leadership" position?  I agree with someone in that position (living together) not being a member of the clergy, a preacher, holding an office or a paid position within the church, etc.   But, in my opinion, I don't see someone who volunteers in the music ministry as necessarily being a "leader" (and I am a member of my church's music ministry).   Music ministry is more visible, but not necessarily more important than, say, the person who's ministry is to clean the church during the week.  But that's just my opinion.

 

Date Posted: 6/18/2008 9:30 AM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2007
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I agree that he should not be in any "out front" ministry positions or in any leadership positions...being involved in behind the scenes without being in the leadership of those behind the scenes activites is another thing. 

I do have an issue with them telling him to not be honest with why he is no longer in that  position.

Date Posted: 6/18/2008 11:12 AM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2006
Posts: 6,060
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I agree that he should not be in any "out front" ministry positions or in any leadership positions...being involved in behind the scenes without being in the leadership of those behind the scenes activites is another thing. 

I'm not trying to be difficult - I'm really trying to understand this, as I am conflicted and not sure of where I stand myself.  Why shouldn't he be in "out front" ministry but still can be "behind the scenes"?  (Again, I agree no true leadership).  But why is OK to mow the lawn when he is "living in sin" but not sing with the music ministry?  Just because no one sees him mow the lawn, that makes it acceptable, but can't have anyone see him doing anything around the church because that makes the church look bad?  I don't get it. 

 

Date Posted: 6/18/2008 11:59 AM ET
Member Since: 6/10/2007
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It doesn't make the church look bad. It sends the message that the church agrees with his lifestyle. The church shouldn't, in my opinion. My daughter, who's nine years old, really looks up to our music ministry, because music is her thing. I don't want her to think it's preferable to live with one's girl / boyfriend. I just don't. I want her to be surrounded by Godly unions.

His spiritual welfare, though, is still important. I am not involved with any of the ministries of my church right now, but that doesn't mean I am not allowed at church. He doesn't have to play in the band to be at the church.

HOWEVER, I'd be church shopping if I were him. It's unacceptable to be told to lie. That kind of goes against the whole of Christianity.

He should also question what he is doing living with his girlfriend. Is she not good enough for marriage? Just thinking out loud here.

Date Posted: 6/18/2008 1:24 PM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2006
Posts: 6,060
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Michelle, I totally see your point.  And I think that's what the church is saying too.  But I still don't understand why "behind the scenes" ministries are OK (according to his church) but visible ones aren't.   Either he can be involved in ministry or not involved, but I don't think they should say this ministry you can do, but this one you can't, because of your lifestyle.  If the church wants to make a statement that this lifestyle is unacceptable, then do so - not "it's only unacceptable if other people know about it".  

Oh, the whole situation with the girlfriend -  I won't get into that because I get upset about it.  I think he's making a huge mistake.   I don't think he thinks she is good enough to marry, and I honestly don't get why he's still with her, for lots of reasons, but that's a whole other story.

Date Posted: 6/18/2008 1:52 PM ET
Member Since: 6/10/2007
Posts: 10,401
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Elizabeth, he's in a screwy church. The first step is to get him in a good, biblically-sound, reliable, trustworthy church. Any church that tells its members to lie should be avoided like the plague. Can you get him into another church?

Date Posted: 6/18/2008 6:56 PM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2006
Posts: 6,060
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Before this happened, I would say there's no way he'd ever leave his church.   Now, maybe there's a possibility.  I don't know, but I'm praying about it!

Date Posted: 6/18/2008 7:09 PM ET
Member Since: 6/10/2007
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I will keep the situation in my prayers, too.

Subject: Concerning Church Discipline
Date Posted: 6/18/2008 9:55 PM ET
Member Since: 9/24/2007
Posts: 156
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According to 1 Corinthians 5, the whole chapter is about Church Discipline.  Sounds like this man knows what he's doing is fornication, but he was still staying in a leadership position?  Is this correct?  And he stayed in this position until someone noticed his address was the same as the girlfriends?  Is he still living in fornication?  If he isn't repentent and refuses to get right with the Lord, then the Church body according to the word of God should kick him out till he comes to his senses.  And no he is not supposed to go to another Church while in sin.  In verse 5  this is what it says, "To deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" 

If Christians would live and obey the word of God, our Churches would not be filled with fornicators, idolators, nor adulters, nor effeminate, nor abuser of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners.  According to verse 9 and 10  these shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  The Church is supposed to be the body of Christ, washed by the blood of the Lamb.  And we are to stay clean, pure and holy and undefiled.

And if you are his friend you will point him to the 5th chapter of 1 Corinthians and pray for him.  Because with him being in sin, unless he's repentent the Lord will not hear his prayer.  But, if you are clean you may pray for him to be repentent and restored.  But, he has to get his heart right with the Lord.

Date Posted: 6/18/2008 10:42 PM ET
Member Since: 6/10/2007
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Deborah, that's all well and true but how do you justify the church telling him to LIE about the reason he's been removed from the ministry?

If a church tells a man to lie (read: causes him to stumble...), that church is not biblically sound. Why on EARTH should he stay there?

Date Posted: 6/18/2008 11:28 PM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2006
Posts: 6,060
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Deborah,

As I said, I agree that he shouldn't be in leadership.  I don't know if I agree that singing in the music ministry is leadership.   Yes, he stayed in this position until someone noticed the addresses matched.  But, as I originally said, I don't believe that church leadership didn't know they were living together until now.  I know the church deacon picked her up (several times) to bring her to bible study - HELLO!  The fact that no one confronted him until it was about to "become public" makes me wonder.    I also don't like the attitude of "he can do stuff, as long as no one sees it."  Add to that the whole lying business and I am really bothered.

But I am bothered a little bit by what you go on to say.  The church is a hospital for sinners.  To say someone can't go to church until they are pure is, in my opinion, totally wrong.  How is someone going to become repentant if they are not in the Body of Christ, being lifted up and being taught? The church can, and should, welcome and love the sinner while still hating the sin.  It is through grace within the Body of Christ that someone will see the error of their ways and strive to change.  To bar the door and say, "you can't come in here until you're pure" - well, I don't see that as very welcoming.

Michelle, thanks for praying!  I know God is working. 

Date Posted: 6/19/2008 10:26 AM ET
Member Since: 5/23/2005
Posts: 6,143
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But, if you are clean you may pray for him

Not a one of us are clean of our own accord.  It is only through the blood of Christ than any of us can be called "clean".  God doesn't require us to be sinless in order to pray to Him or to worship Him.

Subject: Sorry .... long
Date Posted: 6/19/2008 12:01 PM ET
Member Since: 12/8/2007
Posts: 1,011
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I agree that he should not be in a position that is perceived as leadership or one that has an influence over another (or others). I strongly disagree with the leadership of the church telling him to basically lie. Not sure, but they may have been trying to give him an "out" while he dealt with the "living with my girlfriend" issue. They may also have been trying to keep this from turning into a big scandal in the community--- and let's be honest, there is almost always a perverse glee from a community when a church-goer slips up. This does not make what they are telling him to do right, but I am just trying to look at it from another angle. I DO NOT  find their actions judgmental, however. This is part of the purpose of the pastor/council/whatever the church leadership group is called to do. If a Christian brother is sinning then several Christian brothers are to approach him and counsel him, pray with and for him and help him with accountability. If he shows no remorse (this means more than feeling sorry or bad, it means he turns away from the sin. In this case, one of them needs to move out), then the next steps are plainly spelled out in the Word. Think of it this way- in a household with a man and a woman, who is the head/priest of that household? In this case, it would be Elizabeth's friend. His example of living in sin is causing him to stumble, her to stumble, and could cause other's to stumble (thru example, thru anger, thru gossip, the list is very long). He is also not loving her as  the Bible calls for him to do because this living together opens them up to such things as gossip, etc. It brings shame on her and on him. Even if we disagree with how the church leadership is handling this, look at what has already happened: (1) he is in open defiance (according to above, it is no secret that they are living together) of  God's word, his church, his church's leadership  (2) from the post it is obvious that he is upset with his spiritual leaders and may be headed towards bitterness (the wording about it not bothering them about his offerings of money and mowing  (3) he is showing no sign that he plans to change the living together situation even after being counselled, so he is developing or has developed a stubborn heart. Maybe I am inferring too much into all this, but I am only able to go on what I have available to read about the situation. His defense of himself is that "everybody" knew. Well, maybe and maybe not. Or it could be that they were trying to give him time to acknowledge what the Holy Spirit and the Word were surely telling him if his heart is truly open to His voice. All I am saying is that we must not be quick to judge this church and its' leadership there. There are always two sides to each story. They may be strongly hoping and praying that his heart will come to repentance before they have to take the next step. Being held accountable for something is not very acceptable in our society anymore, but it is still a VERY important part of being a Christian. As far as this church being judgemental, Webster's says that the definition of this is " involving  judgement, characterized by a tendency to judge harshly".  This definition leads me to believe that the church so far has not been judgemental, just trying to align themselves with the Word. If they truly were being judgemental, they would have cast him from the church without trying to help him bring his heart and life back into line with the Word. Finally, I pray that this young woman and young man will bring their lives back under the leadership of Christ and deal with this situation biblically before there is more anger and strife. Anger and strife can tear a church apart and it does nothing to help the people involved either!

Date Posted: 6/19/2008 1:12 PM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2007
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I read this post yesterday and it hasn’t been able to leave my thoughts. I have spent some time in prayer and in the Word to find clarification as to why. Deborah and Pat have already said a lot of what is on my heart. The chapter in 1 Corinthians is certainly a good place to go. I would definitely consider a worship leader (or anyone on a worship team for that matter) part of the church leadership. Your friend is under the authority of the pastor and elders. I would caution not to make judgments of the situation based solely on your friend’s side of the story. I think the issue is not so much whether he was told to “lie” or not, rather is your friend repentant? It seems that he is trying to gather support and sullying the name of the church rather than focus on the real issue. Someone who is grieved over their sin will not be so quick to defend their position… something to think about. It might be wise to get the full facts from your church leadership if this is something that is upsetting you so much.

As I was thinking about this and gathering my thoughts I happened to be listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh Demoss on the radio. She is doing a series on the book of Esther. I think her message today (June 19) is applicable to this situation. You can either read the transcript or listen online at their website. She has a greater ability than I have of communicating the Truth… here’s the link.

It is so hard to communicate my heart over a post… I really am praying for you. I would encourage you to get into your Bible (Proverbs, 1 Corinthians 5, 1Timothy 5), pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of the situation, before going to other members of your church talk to your pastor and leaders to clarify that you are getting the right info. Let us know how things turn out.

Date Posted: 6/19/2008 4:50 PM ET
Member Since: 9/24/2007
Posts: 156
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I'm really going to try and not give you anything that would hijack this post!  So, let's see if we can stay focused!

(1)  The man is a worship leader in the Church

(2)  He is living in fornication

(3)  He has received counsel and asked to step down

Let's stay focused here on why he was counseled.  He's committing fornication.  If he a Christian, he knows this is sin.

Church is not a social club.  It is God's house. Christians are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  If he is a Christian he is defiling the temple of the Holy Spirit and he is corrupting and becoming a stumbling block to all that is around him.

God hears repentent hearts, read through the Psalms.  But, if this young man is not repentent and refuses to get right with the Lord, then the Church leadership has to take further action as stated in 1 Corinthians 5

Your friend if unrepentent, his prayers will not be heard. 

Isaiah 59:2  But your iniquities have separated between you your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Yes, we can be clean and intercede for others

1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgve us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

James 5:16 Confess  your faults one to  another, and  pray one  for another that ye may be healed.  The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

James 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error o his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

Now a question,  where in the Bible does it say that we are to bring unrepentent people into the house of God?

Date Posted: 6/19/2008 4:59 PM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2006
Posts: 6,060
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Thanks everyone for your thoughtful (and prayerful) answers.   I have a lot to think about.   I think I'm having such a hard time dealing with it because I am conflicted - part of me is glad that the church did "call him out" on it finally, as I have been upset at the situation too.  But I still am having some problems with the WAY the church did it. 

My friend, honestly, has not been really trying to sully the name of the church - if I gave that impression, I didn't mean to.  He told me just pretty factually what happened, and he's telling very few people (not just because of the gag order, either).  He's not HAPPY about it, but he's not spouting off to anyone who will listen about those #$@*! 's at the church who did this horrible thing to him.   A lot of the arguments I presented above are MINE, not his. 

It's kind of funny - I used to go to his church (that's how I became friends with him), but I left years ago because the church was getting too liberal for me (the church denomination as a whole, more so than this particular parish, which is still pretty conservative).  For example, if he were gay and living with another man, the church denomination he belongs to has stated that is acceptable.  I think that's another reason I'm having problems with this.   

 

Date Posted: 6/19/2008 5:28 PM ET
Member Since: 2/6/2006
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Last Edited on: 3/25/11 8:07 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/19/2008 6:04 PM ET
Member Since: 5/23/2005
Posts: 6,143
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Now a question,  where in the Bible does it say that we are to bring unrepentent people into the house of God?

Here's where our differences may lie.  I don't consider any building to be the house of God.  The building where we go to worship is not the church.  Christians are the church.  The body of Christ (Christians) is the church.  I get what you're saying about confronting an unrepentant Christian (I even agree with it).  I get what you're saying about being a stumbling block.  

I think inside a church building is exactly where sinners (even unrepentant ones) need to be.  I agree they shouldn't be in leadership positions, but I absolutely think they need to go to church.  They need fellowship.  They need guidance.  And most imporantly they need love.  Love need not be accepting everything about a person, but if one of my children were rebellious, I certainly would not kick them out from under my roof.  I would want them with me, where I could help them, and try to guide them back to a place that was healthier for them spiritually.  You may have a different approach.

From the same chapter you quoted in James:

James 5:13
Is any one of you in trouble?  He should pray. . .

If someone has an unrepentant heart, they shouldn't wait to pray until they are clean.  They should be praying already.  A lot.  Their prayer might not change God's heart, but it can certainly change their heart.  And that's the whole point.  It's kind of like the saying:  "If you don't feel like praying, pray until you do."

 

Date Posted: 6/19/2008 6:32 PM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2006
Posts: 6,060
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Jesus hung out with prostitutes, tax collectors, the unclean.  If they were good enough for Him, I will welcome them into my church. 

As I was thinking about Deborah's question about bringing unrepentant people into the house of God, I was reminded of a story in Phillip Yancey's "What's So Amazing About Grace?"   (Which, by the way, if you haven't read, it is a definite must read.)

Here is the story  - with all credit to Mr. Yancey.   I will warn you ahead of time that the topic is quite adult, alarming, and upsetting.  (The story starts with the author quoting a friend's story as told to him).

"A prostitute came to me in wretched straits, homeless, sick, unable to buy food for her two-year-old daughter.  Through sobs and tears, she told me she had been renting out her daughter - two years old! - to men interested in kinky sex.  She made more renting out her daughter for an hour than she could earn on her own in a night.  She had to do it, she said, to support her own drug habit.  I could hardly bear hearing her sordid story.  For one thing, it made me legally liable - I'm required to report cases of child abuse.  I had no idea what to say to this woman.  At last I asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help.  I will never forget the look of pure, naive shock that crossed her face.  "Church!" she cried. "Why would I ever go there?  I was already feeling terrible about myself.  They'd just make me feel worse."



What struck me about my friend's story is that women much like this prostitute fled toward Jesus, not away from him.  The worse a person felt about herself, the more likely she saw Jesus as a refuge.  Has the church lost that gift?  Evidently the down-and-out, who flocked to Jesus when he lived on earth, no longer feel welcome among his followers.  What has happened?



Last Edited on: 6/19/08 6:33 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/19/2008 8:54 PM ET
Member Since: 9/24/2007
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Unrepentent means not being sorry for your sin.  Should he be repentent, yes!  But, is he is the question.  If he is he needs to confess it to the Lord in prayer and seek forgiveness from Jesus.  Then he can be cleansed and restored.  It doesn't work the other way around.

Now heres the question again,  Where in the Bible does it say to bring unrepentent people into the house of God?

Date Posted: 6/19/2008 9:27 PM ET
Member Since: 6/10/2007
Posts: 10,401
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Where does the Bible say that God is only the God of believers, Deborah?

And why are you failing to address the church telling this man to lie about the reason he has been removed from ministry?

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