Fall 2014

Transition Born of Crisis

Open letter to the elders
from an anonymous EFCA leader

I’ve prayed much for you and the church lately. I’ve held my breath and wearied God as you navigated the recent conflict that led you to ask your two pastors to resign, effective immediately.

This, I know, must have been deeply painful. Everyone’s intentions were good. Yet as misunderstanding multiplied, no one seemed equipped to ease the tensions. There wasn’t a “safe place” to hear one another out, forgive and find a mutual path forward. Instead, mistrust grew. One meeting to air concerns—with the pastors absent—turned into an emotional gripe session, with accusations flying.

Now, your pastors, their wives and their children are wounded. Others have left in their wake. Many youth, attracted to the church by your departed youth pastor, are deeply confused and may just walk away from Jesus. “If that’s what Christianity is about, then I’m outta here.”

And in your close-knit community, every neighbor is aware. Love for one another is the key mark of Jesus’ disciples, so the church’s witness is shredded.

So now what? How does the church heal? Let me urge you not to just “let the past lie” and move forward, but to openly work through the hurts and ask God to bring reconciliation.

Everyone is talking about it. The only question is where: out in the parking lot, repeating misinformation and mistrust, or in a safe and orderly context where the facts and intentions can be seen; where people can voice their hurts and desires; and where confession, forgiveness, prayer and unity can occur?

Jesus is remarkably clear that hurts and difference are to be openly addressed, not left to fester:

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).

Your community isn’t surprised there is conflict; what will astonish them as supernatural is love and unity.

Jesus can redeem this situation. I would strongly encourage you to seek wise, objective outside help from those equipped to help the church. It will be a process. But the result will be so worth it. And be sure that I am praying and pulling for you all.