(This is the final post in this series on “Lawsuits Among Christians.” For the whole series click on Pastor Preus’ name on the Brother’s Cafe.)
As indicated in my recent blog something happened on December 2 of which the entire synod needs to be aware. A legal opposition was filed before the secular authorities against certain Christian men. This action, according to President Kieschnick’s understanding of I Corinthians, is a sin. Who did it and how should the president respond?
Let’s think by analogy. I’m a pastor. Let’s say that someone in my church – we’ll call him Joe – did something which others thought was potentially harmful to the congregation. Let’s say that there are some lawyers in the congregation who filed a legal matter against Joe and that I, as pastor, was completely unaware of the disputed matter. Let’s then say that all sorts of people got mad at me since I am the pastor and there are people filing legal matters before the secular courts on behalf of my congregation. Let’s say that the press gets a hold of the story and members of the church are angry that the press is making us look bad. Let’s say that it turns out that some congregational funds have been spent on this ill advised action and people are demanding to know how much was spent. Let’s say that not only have the congregation’s funds been spent but that many dollars were spent by Joe defending himself against this action.
Now, I’m the pastor. What should I do?
What would you think if I wrote a letter to the whole congregation saying that lawsuits are bad and that I didn’t do it? It’s not my fault. Would that be an adequate response? Would it even be relevant? Hardly.
Here’s what I should do. First I should talk to Joe. I should apologize to Joe for the embarrassment that this action has caused. I should assure Joe that I will defend him and speak well of him just as publicly as those who questioned his integrity had spoken. Then I should send a letter to the entire church assuring them that Joe is a fine Christian man.
Second, since it was official actions of the congregation which forced Joe to defend himself with his financial resources, I should work behind the scene to see if it was possible to provide some type of financial restitution for Joe.
Third, I should talk to the lawyers and instruct them as to the application of I Corinthians 6 in the life of the congregation. I would tell them that they represent a Christian church which does not file actions before the secular authorities against other Christians within the fellowship. I would scold the lawyers for their litigiousness. And I would let the church know that such litigiousness will not continue to characterize the church.
Fourth, I should talk to my chairman, head elder, trustees and just about anyone who might possibly have talked to the lawyers. I should ascertain how it could possibly happen that the one who sets the moral direction of the congregation can be completely unaware of actions done on behalf of the whole church which have clear moral implications. Once I find out who authorized the lawyers I should talk to them and make them absolutely guarantee that they understand the impropriety and possibly immorality of their actions and promise not to do it again.
Finally, I should assure the church that this action was against the Bible and that it will not happen again. I should apologize to the church that such an action could take place without my knowledge and I should promise that in the future I would be more aware of what was going in the church I was supposed to be leading.
That’s what I should do. Is that what you would expect from a leader?