a note on dispute resolution within the church

There are three steps recommended in Matthew 18 to resolve a dispute within an organization, in this case the church. (See the note below regarding the difference between dispute resolution within an organizational/church setting vs. those outside of an organization.)

Matt. 18:15: “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.

Matt. 18:16: But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.

Matt. 18:17: If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Guardian Council

Members of the Guardian Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran discussing matters.

When involved in an internal dispute, first go directly to the person and try to resolve the issue. Do not gossip. Do not go to someone else. Do not whine in an advisory committee. Do not scheme to rally opposition against the person with whom you have a problem. Do not use your friendships with others to deprecate the reputation of your perceived opponent. Go directly to the person, act like a mature adult, and attempt to resolve the issue. If there is distance between you, call them. Email them. If you can, meet with them in person. Communicate your issue like an adult. Don’t talk to everyone but the one with whom you have an issue.

If the dispute is not resolved, take a few others with you to the person and attempt to resolve the dispute. Note that it does not say go to meet with others about the person, or convene a meeting in the absence of the other person, but in the presence of all parties at the same time. Let the differences be resolved together as one body.

If there is still no resolution and the dispute remains, take it to the entire church, again, in the presence of the person in question.

Note that in all three steps, the person under discussion is present to offer a defense of his/herself, to offer his/her opinion on the matter, or to offer an explanation. At no time in the process does a group meet in closed, private session without the person in dispute in the presence of the group. Meeting in the absence of the person in dispute is nothing more than collective gossip; those meeting about another person are not following the biblical precedent, but are participating in corporate gossip about another individual.

If an issue is not important enough to bring directly to the person in question, or if the one raising the issue is too much of a gossiping coward to approach the one with whom he or she has an issue, then the matter is not worthy of discussion; any other process is wholly unbiblical. Additionally, any eldership or church leadership that invites such behavior and meets with a known gossip in the absence of the person against whom a dispute is raised, and without attempting the three prescribed remedies laid out in Matthew 18, invites, participates in, and openly endorses a corporate form of gossip, which is not only unbiblical, but undermines the credibility of the pusillanimous leadership’s authority in the resolution process.

Authority and credibility are always enhanced by transparency and open communication, and are conversely diminished by secrecy and gossip.

Any church leadership that participates in or endorses – tacitly or explicitly – corporate gossip is worthy of consistent and scathing public condemnation and should expect as much.

“For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” – 2 Samuel 12:12

Happy New Year.


(N.B. – If someone is actively committing a crime against you, call the authorities. This is especially recommended if the person a) is not a part of your organization and therefore under no obligation to adhere to your organization’s established system of dispute resolution (in this case, the church; cf. v. 15 “if another member of the church…“), or b) expresses no interest in reconciling with you. Likewise, if a criminal offender has demonstrated that anything you write or say to him/her in private will be taken out of context and relayed publicly or potentially used against you in a court proceeding, then deal directly with the police or appropriate authorities. The point is that one should deal directly and honestly with those with whom one has a dispute within an organization with established reconciliation procedures. If the one with whom you have a dispute has exhausted any semblance of professional integrity, then further private communication will most likely prove futile, and may actually exacerbate the situation.)

the most egregious misapplication of church demographics and male leadership i’ve ever seen

the irony is, i actually agree with him up to the :45 mark. granted, he sounds like he’s parroting john eldredge’s wild at heart, but he has a point. but, it is precisely at that point (the :45 mark), that driscoll completely derails and misses the point. i mean, really, are you seriously referring to women and men as ‘chicks and dudes’??

and really? the entire mission of the church should revolve around YOUNG MEN??!! really? is this the 50s? are we in afghanistan? if we target young men, we ‘win’???

no wonder driscoll’s church is ‘over half male, single, and in their twenties’: who wants to date an uneducated, ‘perverted’ male who’d rather ‘punch someone in the nose’ or ‘work on their truck’ than go to church?

see for yourself:

really? mark driscoll wants to teach you (that is, men) to ‘lead’?

Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church

Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in what is *not* a mugshot.

seriously. just watch this video. just watch it. maybe move a trash can next to your computer, or better yet, take your laptop to the toilet, just in case you get the sudden urge to vomit.

matthew paul turner at jesus needs new pr puts it this way:

Pastor Mark wants to help YOU look tired and drained like him–as well as 9,999 other men in ministry!

And all of this is for free (all you need is a penis!)

But you have to sign up! Because if 10,000 people don’t sign up for this adventure, he won’t do it.

And what an adventure of rejoicing it will be… for a young Calvinist, this will be like getting spanked by Jonathan Edwards…

Via YouTube videos and other exclusive content, Pastor Mark will take you to Ireland with him… and England… and Turkey… and to Orlando with RC Sproul. You’ve always wanted to go to Orlando with RC Sproul, right?

Do you want Mark to teach you how to lead?

the video really is an exercise in, “see, i’m not really all that educated, and god talks audibly to me, and i’m a leader, and i get to hang out with cool people (read my full bio and see how much i brag about how many people follow me on twitter), and i know you want to be like me, so instead of educating yourself in the proper sense and going to college and to seminary and doing graduate degrees in ancient languages and biblical literature (because that stuff’s way too hard!), just sign up for my videos (that is, if you’re male and therefore eligible to be a leader) and i’ll teach you how to lead.

seriously, i especially loved these tidbits from the bio:

  • Preaching magazine named him one of the twenty-five most influential preachers of the last twenty-five years. (He was #17 and the youngest person on the list by over a decade.)
  • He has preached on every continent except South America and Antarctica.
  • His sermons are regularly near or at the top of iTunes’ Religion and Spirituality podcasts
  • He can also be found on Twitter and Facebook (with over 110,000 combined followers and fans) [seriously, that’s on his C.V.]
  • an iPhone app (downloaded by 37,000 people)

so watch the video, and ponder these questions while you do:

  1. really? ‘backstage’ at mars hill church?
  2. really? there are leaders around the world that could benefit from you?
  3. really? leadership coaching with me (mark driscoll)?
  4. really? ‘tell you whatever it is i’m learning at that time’? wouldn’t i rather learn from your teacher? (strike that actually, nevermind.)
  5. really? thing that ‘leaders need to know’ like ‘how to recover on mondays when you feel like you’ve been hit like a truck’? really? what are you, picking grapes all day? laying bricks? doing construction? you’re a preacher. you stand up and speak for an hour on sunday. i know preaching creates a bit of stress on monday, and that there’s more to it than sunday, but really? you got ‘hit by a truck’?? i have some friends in the central valley of california who might have some comments about what ‘hard work’ really is.
  6. really? ‘what’s it like to be a pastor’s wife’? really? so women aren’t eligible to be leaders/pastors? what if your wife is the pastor? (like me) and only on sundays? what about the rest of the week? how does she handle being married to you on those days?
  7. really? ‘how to handle people needing you‘? really?
  8. really? paul had a doctor? and it was luke??!! seriously? what is this, free-association fundamentalist harmonization hour?
  9. really? saving your house? saving your marriage? saving your voice? that makes you a leader: knowing how to save your voice??
  10. really? these are the things that [male] leaders need to know?
  11. really? do we really get to watch ‘people come into town to meet with you’? please?
  12. really? you never know who you’re going to bump into?? (unless you ask your booking agent?? – click here to fill out mark driscoll’s ‘speaker request form’ or view his speaking calendar.) really, ‘never know who you’re going to bump into’?
  13. really? you don’t want to be arrogant about it, but you want to help me?
  14. really? starting in january, we can get ‘backstage, behind the scenes’ videos? featuring you?

and note to self when making podcasts: LOOK AT THE CAMERA, not at yourself on the screen! i can’t watch this video without thinking the entire time that he’s watching himself while he talks on his mac. watch his eyes. lol.

so if you want to learn all the important things about being a leader like mark driscoll, like how to handle ‘people needing you’ (see the 1:39 mark in the video), then sign up. because the world needs more white, male leaders like mark driscoll (as difficult as that can be). just remember, make sure you bring your testicles, because every fundamentalist knows that it is in the testicles where the leadership authority of the holy spirit truly resides.

view the ‘unlisted’ video here (what are you hiding?):

HT: matthew paul turner

question for the ‘yes on prop 8’ supporters: who can caster semenya marry?

South African gold-medallist Caster Semenya

South African gold-medallist Caster Semenya

i have a question for all of the california ‘yes on proposition 8’ supporters and others who support bans on gay marriage:

who can caster semenya marry?

it was revealed that south african olympic runner caster semenya is an intersexual individual (traditionally called hermaphrodites).

South African gold-medallist Semenya, 18, has both male and female organs, it was claimed…Semenya is claimed to have NO womb or ovaries — and has internal testes, the male sexual organs which produce testosterone.

first, i want to say that i can’t possibly comprehend what it must be like growing up as an intersexual individual in a society that sees issues of gender in such a markedly binary manner. gender issues are confusing enough if you are merely male or female, but to grow up in a sex-obsessed world arguing about issues of same-sex marriage as a hermaphrodite? this seems incredibly difficult.

i want to lend my support and sympathy to caster semenya, not for her physical makeup – she should be proud of who she is. but, i want to encourage her to stay strong in her life as an olympian and a woman (the gender she has chosen).

however, i cannot help but ask a few questions to those that oppose same sex marriage and to those that oppose women’s full inclusion, participation, and leadership in the church.

who can caster semenya marry? can she marry a man? would you let her marry a woman?

can she preach in a church? can she lead singing? can she serve as an elder? a pastor?

while these questions are answered quite simply by those of us that support gender equity and same-sex marriage, the answers are a little more difficult for those wishing to impose traditional (and quite physiologically ignorant) opinions on the matter. the bible speaks of male and female, but does not consider asexual, hermaphroditic, or other intersexual individuals. quite frankly, hermaphrodites do not fit the ‘biblical’ paradigm that many wish to enforce.

hermaphrodite_symbolhow can we continue to impose male/female gender regulations from a book that fails to address intersexual individuals upon a modern society. studies show that about 1% of all children born express some degree of sexual ambiguity, and 1 in every 2,000 newborns is born in a pronounced intersexual state. sure, these individuals are in the extreme minority, but if christians truly believe that every individual person is loved – and most say uniquely created (some might say intelligently designed) – by god, how can we impose gender restrictions upon individuals that possess both genders? it is no longer acceptable for fundamentalists simply to argue that the only acceptable christian lifestyle for intersexual individuals is lifelong abstinence. it is no sin, and they (nor their parents) did nothing wrong.

it is time for christians (and jews, and muslims, and peoples of all faiths) to recognize that some social institutions mentioned in the bible are no longer valid in modern society. the bible allows for slavery, but modern society has condemned this practice. the bible not only allows for, but at times commands genocide, but modern society has condemned this practice. likewise, the bible promotes the continued subjugation of women and homosexuals based upon antiquated and scientifically ignorant understandings of what it means to be a human with gender. it is time we once and for all did away with calls by christians to continue to ban same-sex marriage and women’s participation in church worship and leadership. it is time to accept that not all people in christ are ‘male and female’ (gal. 3:28) and realize that like its endorsement of slavery, the subjugation of women, homosexuals, and intersexual individuals is no longer acceptable.

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