I was talking to a friend of ours recently.  Bev and I have known them since just before we came to Elko.  They are in ministry in the Simi Valley area of Southern California; great people.  In the course of our conversation, he told me that they closed the doors of his church a few weeks ago.  Of course I asked him why.  He told me of several issues that they had been dealing with at their church.  They had tried to make some changes, but they got nowhere.  At that point there are only two choices for a pastor;  leave, or close the church doors.


Leaving is the easiest by far.  People are always nice to a new pastor, which is why we call it the “honeymoon period.”  The problem with leaving is that it allows the people left behind to continue in their behavior.  In “normal” situations this is okay, but my friends recognized that the behavior of these people was so unhealthy that it should not be allowed to continue.  Not to mention my friends love those people too much to allow that to happen.  So they talked to the denominational representatives, got their support and shut the church down.


The reason this is so difficult is that when you deal this way with people, often they will turn on the pastors and make all kinds of accusations – in this case none of them would be true.  My friends have the purest motives in doing this and their willingness to take the hard road is proof.  The good news is that after a couple weeks a new church will start, with Ken and Janie as the pastors.  I applaud the courage and dedication of my friends; I am praying for them.


Right about now you are probably worried that I will have an announcement.  I don’t, I would never do something like that this way – I am far too direct for that.  My point here is sometimes you have to be willing to take the same kind of tough road with those you love, in order to save them from destructive behaviors.  Whether we are talking about friends, or even children, we sometimes must do something drastic to bring about appropriate change in their lives.  Make no mistake this is risky business.  You will in all likelihood have your motives questioned and in most cases you will lose some relationships – possibly forever.  The question you need to ask is, what measure of success have you had in the past in bringing about a positive change?  If you cannot honestly see any positive change, then you need to ask another question.  Am I willing to allow this behavior to continue, or am I willing to risk everything in an effort to maximize the chances for positive change?


One piece of advice, if you do go down this road, make sure you have some support – you are going to need it.  It will not be easy, it may not work, but sometimes you have to do something radical to get people’s attention.


Like dying on a cross; that was pretty radical.