Church & Ministry

Ministry Conflict of Interest

Reprinted with permission from Baptist Bulletin May/Jun 2013. All rights reserved.

As a church leader, you are asked to counsel a man in your church who is having marital problems. In your first meeting, he tells you he is having an affair that he has no intention of ending. Do you have a duty to disclose this to the other leaders to work toward reconciliation? If his wife is a part of your church, do you also have an obligation to her? Do you have a duty of confidentiality to the counselee? If you didn’t disclose to him that you might be obliged to discuss his disclosure with church leaders, and if no one signed a waiver of confidentiality, you are in the middle of a conflict of interest.

The importance of the broader issue—ministerial ethics—should be obvious: an ethical failure can ruin a ministry. I recently wrote Doing Right while Doing Good with Kenneth Bickel to show how ethics is ultimately about choices. We debate the merits between courses of action because we seek the right choice. When we choose poorly (contrary to Scripture), we have failed. Consequences might include irrelevance, fractured relationships, or even the end of a ministry. Read more about Ministry Conflict of Interest

Book Review - Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley (part 1)

Image of Deep and   Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend
by Andy Stanley
Zondervan 2012
Hardcover 352

A couple of pastor friends of mine encouraged me to read Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley when I had no intentions of every buying it or reading it. The tagline of the title is: “Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend.” So, automatically, I was already skeptical because I don’t want to create a church that anyone would love to just “attend.” I’ve been beating the missional drum with our church about being the church rather than merely attending the church. So, my first impression by just reading the cover was “Creating Churches that Attract Customers, Not Disciples.” But in spite of my skepticism, I took their advice and got the book. Read more about Book Review - Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley (part 1)

Trusting the True Shepherd

You don’t have to spend much time in the Christian blogosphere before you encounter the stories of those who have been hurt by the Church. These first-person narratives are often raw and unsettling—they include details that most of us would rather not know, and ones that once we do, we can’t easily erase from our minds. These stories are unusually transparent and reveal a pain that is clearly lingering. Because of this, it’s easy for some to discount them as exercises in self-absorption and unhealthy introspection. After all, shouldn’t we leave the past in the past? Can’t we just move on?

And we could do that, we could let things lie if spiritual abuse weren’t an ever-present reality, if it didn’t regularly make headline news. We could move on if pastors didn’t tell seventeen-year-old girls that they were “God’s gifts” to fulfill them sexually. If victims of such abuse were not made to feel that they were somehow responsible or that they would hurt “Christ’s cause” to speak about it.

And I guess we could leave well enough alone if spiritual abuse didn’t cut both ways. If ministries didn’t routinely supplement budgets by underpaying staff with the caveat that they’ll be eligible for welfare. If pastors’ wives and children weren’t targeted for the sake of simply existing. If 1,700 pastors didn’t leave ministry every month—many out of despair and discouragement.

But they do. Read more about Trusting the True Shepherd

What Does "Unworthily" Mean?

Chris Anderson and friends recently launched a new blog at ChurchWorksMedia.com. Starting today, the blog will appear in our SI Blogroll. To mark the occasion, we commend the article below as a sample of what you’ll find there.—Editor

Gathering with the Lord’s church to remember Christ and His work is a vital part of Christian worship and an edifying exercise for both the corporate body and the individual Christian. Yet, Scripture protects the Lord’s Table in 1 Corinthians 11:27, where we are warned not to partake “unworthily” (KJV) or “in an unworthy manner” (ESV). That’s important—so important that people can suffer illness or even death for doing it (v. 30). But what does it mean?

For many, it means bondage. Countless believers have spent their entire lives afraid to partake of the Lord’s Table because they doubt their own worthiness. Communion has become a time when they remember themselves rather than (or at least more than) Christ. They’ve been trained (in part due to the KJV’s translation, in part due to careless teaching) to focus on their relative obedience or disobedience in the days preceding the Table. The result is pride, or despair, or fear—but not worship! Gordon Fee explains: Read more about What Does "Unworthily" Mean?

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