The Correct Way to Correct the Church

It’s not a secret there are times when the church of Jesus doesn’t get it right.

It’s not enough to comment that “everyone is a sinner,” or to rush to remind everyone about forgiveness and grace. We are the body of Christ.

We have every spiritual blessing through Jesus and everything we need for life and godliness. We can access the mind of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. We are empowered to live up to our relationship as daughters and sons of the Most High God.

In other words, we know better and are called to live better than is often evident.

But, the free-for-all church bashing that seems to be in fashion is not only unproductive but at times, it only adds to the disgrace. Jesus Christ died to cancel our guilt and shame. Why do we think it wise to resurrect it and club one another with it on occasion? That’s not His plan.

God knew we would fail. He was aware we would disappoint one another, and He established guidance even for this. He amazingly thinks of everything.

This list isn’t perfect but here are a few guidelines I suggest for those times when we believe we should publicly admonish or correct the church at large (feel free to add to my list in the comments):

  1. Take a beat. Or two. Inhale. Exhale. Resist the rant. James 1:19-20 ESV commands us “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” If Jesus could live in our midst without screaming and ranting at every wrong that He encountered than we can, too.
  2. Get the facts, Jack. Do your due diligence and get facts, not just one side of the story. Proverbs 18:17 ESV says “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” We don’t need to react faster. Take a clue from the pace of God.
  3. Remember the weeds. Jesus told a parable that began “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.” Matthew 13:24b-25 ESV There is a visible church but not all parts of the visible church are actually the Body of Christ. Consider this and acknowledge it in your public admonishments.
  4. Remember the wolves. Be aware that some followers have fallen prey to false teachers that Jesus warned would come among us. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15 ESV Exercise wisdom when confronting false teaching. Be direct with false teachers, bold with the truth, but gentle with the sheep.
  5. Remember the enemy. There is one who seeks to divide, discredit, discourage, and disarm the saints. Don’t give him aid or ammunition. Persist in prayer, obedience, and light. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:11-12 ESV
  6. Be gentle. “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Galatians 6:1 We all sent Christ to the cross. We all deserved death. We have all been recipients of grace and receive it daily. Let this truth soften your heart and guide your tongue.
  7. Be humble. “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” Ephesians 4:1-2 ESV
  8. Be eager to maintain unity. “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:3-6 ESV Look for places of agreement. Do hard work, have hard conversations, do hard things.
  9. Know the truth. Speak the truth. Live the truth. 2 Timothy 3:16 ESV says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” We wander blindly and do clumsy damage when we are not grounded in His Word and obedient to sound biblical teaching.
  10. Guard your heart. Love matters. Without it, we are sounding gongs. Yesterday’s memes. Deleted tweets. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14 ESV Be students of mercy. Out of the overflow of the heart, our mouths speak so it is our hearts we must guard. Paul tells us in Philippians to pray in all things “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Yes, the Body of Christ must be corrected. Sometimes that correction must even be direct, public, and hard to hear.

But there is a way that seems right to us and a way that God says is right. Seek Him first.

It is better to be holy than to be right on Facebook or to win a Twitter war. Remember the way of the cross and live it, even in this.

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    The Conversation

  1. Sherry Carter says:

    This is such an important post, Lori! Thank you for the willingness to listen to God’s voice in what you write.

    A couple of years ago, my church got in an uproar over an unwise statement made by a teacher during a lesson. Instead of praying and then approaching him with God’s Word, the attack was on. It became a “don’t allow him to teach anymore, or else” demand. Several of us tried to calm the situation down by using God’s Word to show the teacher the error of what he’d said and by urging the congregation to be forgiving. We were attacked for being lax with God’s truth.

    Unfortunately, several members left, including the teacher. It broke my heart, and I’m sure it broke God’s as well.

  2. JOHN WHITE says:

    This column reminds me of going to the doctor. They use a little rubber tipped hammer, striking you just above a reflex point, where there’s a nerve near a joint or bone surface. When they tap it, the body part jumps slightly, involuntarily.

    Mine jumped at each title-point (strike) you made. Thanks for the exam, Doc.

  3. Maireen says:

    “It is better to be holy than right…”
    Yes! Thank you, friend, for these wise and applicable words!

  4. Pam Halter says:

    Right on, Lori!

  5. Tammy Breeding says:

    Awesome! Thank you.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Such a beautiful reminder.