After three decades of driving pastors away due to gossip, back-biting, and public maligning a church in Indiana has publicly repented (see the article below). The open acknowledgment of the assembly to the public at large and directly to the souls that they have wounded tells a story of stony hearts being softened, even to the point of washing the feet of those who had been hurt. Increasing the beauty of this scene of humility is that the offended and hurt pastors apparently accepted the apologies, not in a high-minded way, but with a heart of forgiveness towards those who had verbally assaulted them and their families in the past.
To see a church or a group of churches build a habit and culture of gossip and driving out shepherds is saddening. Even worse, is that a culture of gossip and maligning requires an ever increasing amount of verbal assaults in order to convince others (and maybe to convince oneself) that the gossip is warranted, the trash is true, and that the words are a “necessary warning.” Yes, the Bible does condone punitive measures against those who are trying to bring in heresy or division within the congregation, but from the sounds of it, the former pastors of the church in Indiana were not likely do such things, and gossip between people or from the pulpit is not the prescribed means of biblical discipline.
I wonder what happened within the church that helped bring about this heart of repentance. I wonder what would happen if more churches would take a heart check to see if they have been gossiping and maligning servants of God who had tried to shepherd those around them with a clear conscience before the Lord. I wonder what would happen if those convicted by the Holy Spirit for gossiping and maligning would take the step of public repentance and asking for forgiveness from those whom they have mistreated in the past. I am guessing that the results would be positive for the church, those mistreated, and the spreading of the gospel.
Congregation reconciles with four former pastors that left ‘wounded and deeply distressed’ from ‘misdeeds and un-Christlike attitudes.’
by Melissa Steffan
An Assemblies of God church in Indiana recently invited four of its former pastors to return so that the congregation could repent of gossip and other mistreatment that drove the leaders away.
Peter A. Joudry, current pastor of Madison Assembly of God (MAG), hosted a reconciliation weekend where he and his wife washed the feetof the former pastors, whose tenures at the church date back to 1983.
“We needed this weekend because of the misdeeds and un-Christlike attitudes that were displayed by our congregation toward these men of God and their families,” Joudry told Assemblies of God News. He decided to host the reconciliation nine months into his tenure after “old, entrenched patterns began to resurface” leading 40 percent of the church’s 260 members to leave, according to the denomination’s report.
Although many of the current MAG members are not the same men and women who caused the pastors to leave, congregants at the reconciliation service prayed to “apologize for the offenses committed against the leaders,” including gossip and publicly maligning the pastors.