When Should a Church Come Clean
Written By: Peter Denby
Today more and more we are seeing churches where the history of that congregation is clouded. Too many times I have heard people tell me that they do not what to go to a church until they are told what it was that caused a split. Many times the church is not willing to tell the people and thus lose them to somewhere else.
The Bible tells us that we need to remain pure and that we are to be an example in our purity. “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12). If we are to be an example to the believers then we as a whole (the church and locally the congregation) must be pure also. As we are not perfect then we need to make sure that we follow what we are told as Christians and apply it to our congregations.
The Bible points out that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Thus we as a congregation of the Lord’s Church need to do the same. To keep the purity of the church and the local congregation, we need to not only confess the congregational sins to God but also to those who are affected. People do not just want to know the problems of the church for tabloid reasons, but also for their protection. While there are issues that should have some details kept private, people are entrusting their lives to us, as the local congregation of the Lord’s Church.
When we “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:…” (Matthew 28:19-20) are we showing them, by our actions, that we will only teach them what is in God's Word? Revelation 22:18-19
says “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” I contend that we are not allowed to add to or delete from the Word of God, or God’s message, as a whole. Thus if we are giving this impression to others, they may feel that we are not following the Word of God to the letter.
“Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. For the grace
of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.“ (Titus 2:6-3:2) I contend that while Titus is talking to young men, unless contradicted elsewhere in God’s Word, that the behavior sought by Titus for young men can apply more broadly to the Church congregation as a whole. Are we not corrupting the doctrine when we have unspoken, but known about, issues clouding the church and our local congregations.
When a congregation has a dispute, or a split, the community sees it. If they do not see any healing then they will always have questions as to whether or not the issue is hidden from view, such as when a person asks and is told “no comment,”. This lack of visable healing may make the community suspicious of the ability of the congregation to stay pure and to rightly divide the Word of God. (2 Timothy 2:15)
While I am not a fan of government intervention in the affairs of the Church,. many states and the United States Government have laws that require us to be open with those who support us. We should do our best to follow these laws except where they contradict God’s Word. “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,” (Titus 3:1)
Without sacrificing the integrity of God’s Word we need to make sure that we conduct our services and all of our activities so as not to bring undue concern on our truthfulness and so as to not loose the opportunity to be fruitful in following the Great Commission. If we alienate those that we are trying to save then we have been unfruitful servants for the Lord We can not afford to loose any more souls to the devil! We need to make sure that we are fruitful and multiplying as Christians and as a congregation of the Lord’s Church!