"Often what is destroying pastors are not the arrows that come from outside its walls, but those which originate from within"

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Bert Perry's picture

Gossip can be a killer, but it also strikes me that a lack of sound doctrine is a killer, too.  For example, the author's use of the feminine pronoun when referring to a pastor that's "got to go" suggests that the neglect of the principles of Matthew 18 in his column is not an accident--he's trying to hold a church together--yes even probably an evangelical one--without the clear support of Scripture in many areas.  Notice how vague he is in areas where theoretically people need to be called out.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Anne Sokol's picture

This is currently the #1 thing I struggle with as a pastor's wife.

You know, it's only like 4-5 guys out of our church. But they color the whole experience.

The last 2-3 years, i have become very conscious about my struggle with forgiving them, not being bitter, not becoming fixated on these couple "loud" malcontents, not becoming cynical or sarcastic, not withdrawing myself and my love and emotional involvement. Because naturally, I start doing all those things in reaction to these type of people.

Lately, I've been using these strategies:

1. praying specifically for these people

2. doing a kind thing for a church member each day

3. speaking to them casually at church meetings

4. doing things for their families in times of need

5. intentionally developing relationships with quieter, happier church members

I am still growing in this area, but it is one that I have pinpointed as a current area of struggle and vulnerability. I really don't want to be a frustrated, uninvolved, withdrawn, up-tight, slow-to-love pastor's wife 20 years from now.

Mark_Smith's picture

Let's say there is a small group of people that are simply toxic to your church. You have talked to them and tried to understand them. They react with scorn. The other leaders (deacons/elders, whatever your church has) have talked to them. Same response. You have prayed, etc. 

Can you ask them to leave?

Joel Tetreau's picture


Yes you can ask them to leave........


Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Bert Perry's picture

Matthew 18:15-19.   I am extremely uneasy about asking people to leave for personality differences, just fine with doing so because of sin issues.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

M. Osborne's picture

A good leader will be concerned that he's not disciplining members for mere personality differences. (I.e., a good leader will remember to examine his own motives, and make sure that he's not on an ego trip.)

But the genius of the Matthew 18 process is that it will sift out what are mere personality differences from what are true sin issues.

As you approach a difficult church member in a private, loving way (Matthew 18, stage 1), if you gain a hearing...if he's agreeable to work with you...that tells you something right away. But if he resists, you bring in others. These others are able to tell you, objectively, whether you have a point or whether you're off base. They are able to evaluate, not only the difficult person's original behavior, but the difficult person's response to humble attempted correction. The person's response at this stage will probably tell you more about the person's heart condition than the original behaviors did. By the time you ask the whole church to examine the question, if the church is on board and is encouraging the difficult person to repent and work with them...well, anyone who will stand against the whole church's consensus on what appears to be a sin issue, yep, you can tell them to leave.

Church leaders can rely on this God-given safety net. They don't have to trust their own private judgment.

And I would encourage church leaders to take care of these things. People who are sinfully divisive hurt the entire church, not just the pastor. The church leadership may think they can graciously put up with it, but can the congregation?

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA