The Decline of Respect: What It Means for Your Church
Pastor John sat quietly in his office. His stress had reached a new, high level for his 23 years at the church. His mind raced with thought prayers to God: “Lord, I don’t know what to do. I’m desperate. My church is blowing up. This whole thing has gotten out of control.”
This is a true story. The pastor had familiarity with Church Doctor Ministries. One of our church doctors had conducted a church consultation for his congregation two years before. So, he called to talk with that consultant.
“We have a new situation that has come up — and it’s divided our church. About three months ago, we discovered our full-time youth leader had some inappropriate behavior with one of the young people in our youth group. Our elders confronted him, and he admitted his mistakes.
“The elders and I felt it necessary that the youth pastor be terminated. We asked him to seek counseling and restoration. We recognized his giftedness for youth ministry and, with professional help, indicated it was our hope he would likely be able to serve another church on staff in the future.
“We agreed to keep his impropriety private, as long as he promised to get professional help and guidance. We didn’t want to disrupt the entire church. So, the youth leader agreed and resigned.
“A few days later, I got this long, scathing email from a woman in the church who had two kids in the high school youth group. It was nasty and accusatory. She blamed me and the elders. Worse yet, she copied the email to 32 of her friends — all members of our church. About 20 of them had kids in the youth group.”
Our consultant responded from the other end of the phone conversation, “So, what did you do? How did you respond?”
The pastor replied, “I wrote her an email back — almost twice as long as hers. I told her that it was the elders’ right to let people go. I told her there were ‘issues’ that won’t be made public. And, as I sent the email, I copied it to the 32 people that got her email to me, along with the church council, the youth board members, as well as some of the officers in leadership at our church.
“Now, the rumors are flying, the congregation is divided, it’s a real mess. We need help. And we need it fast. This whole church is about to explode. We want to fly you out here as soon as possible to help us.”
In this issue of the Church Doctor Report, Kent Hunter talks about the lack of civility in society and the importance of being civil. He also highlights his new book Restoring Civility: Lessons from the Master.