5 Church "Rejection" Traps Leaders Should Avoid

3.) Rejection of Judgment:
Many of us have been abused by harsh judgment by people who don’t know us, who do it out of a sense of superiority, and who do not empathize or bring love/forgiveness/hope in Christ Jesus. This kind of judgment in the church is a denial of Christ. This has led us to reject judgement altogether. Yet we need judgements – i.e. discernments of the truth in our lives. We who are pastoring need to nurture this overreaction into a culture of love where love means commitment to the growth of the other in Christ. This demands we learn how to speak truth ONLY in love and care for the other. We start by admitting we are incapable of telling the truth to ourselves apart from a community of the Spirit. And so without truth-telling in love and submission to the other, we will all go on in our lies. We need to learn how not to lie. There will be no healing, no salvation part from learning the truth about ourselves. We do this by learning to live together out of His love, acceptance and humility always willing to hear and confess our sins (Eph 4:14-15; James 5:16). Such a culture of love will not judge those outside the community(1 Cor 5:12-13). For those inside the family however we are committed to judge/discern as we do it together in mutual submission. We need truthtelling, discernment and judgement for life itself . Without it the community will dissolve into a mutually enabling sin addicted dysfunctional mess.

4.) Rejection of authority in Scripture:
Many of us have been abused by heavy-handed abusive narrow interpretation of Scripture by pastors. Pastors have taken Scripture and abused it to manipulate people into their own agendas under the auspices of the Scripture as God’s Word. This has led us to reject the idea of an authoritative Scripture altogether. It then becomes a book of human experiences with God to get in touch with individually. But this is the Story of our lives in Christ. It orders the way we see the world and participate in life with God and His mission.  We who are pastoring need to nurture this overreaction into a respect for the authority of the text as it carries the authority of Jesus handed to the apostles and then to us. We must preserve its unique authority in our midst and learn how to read it together as a community in submission to the Lord always holding interpretation up to the confirming work of the Spirit in our midst.  Without the Scripture the church becomes an identity-less people without a Story.

5.) Rejection of Conversion.
Many of us have been abused by altar calls, by threats of going to hell, all in the name of getting a decision.  This sometimes excess coercion/manipulation has led us to reject conversion altogether. But there can be no entrance into the Kingdom’s dynamic power apart from repenting and entering what God is doing through Christ in the bringing of His Kingdom into the world (Mark 1:14). We who are pastoring need to nurture this overreaction into a full appreciation of each one’s intentional entrance into God’s Kingdom and what He is doing in the world. We need the means to invite those who “belong before they believe” into the Kingdom life via a conversion – a move from one world into the next. This is personal and intentional. This is baptism. Without conversion, the church will forever wander in the wilderness, never being intentional about what God has done, is doing, and will do in and among us.

Hope this helps. What other abuses in the church have led to overreactions that can in turn be nurtured towards a new faithfulness?

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David Fitch
David Fitch is a bi-vocational pastor at Life on the Vine and the B.R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary.

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