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  • An entirely different person on Facebook

    I am writing today because I am going through a situation that I have never encountered before as a worship leader. A few months back, one of the women on my worship team went on a political rant on Facebook. These rants are exclusive to Facebook but she puts on a very different hat for Sunday morning worship. In this midst of this political rant she admitted to being bisexual. This was obviously a huge red flag for me, so I immediately took her off the rotation and met with her and one other high level pastor. Our goal was to find out if she was still practicing sin openly. In that meeting she told us that she hadn't practiced that lifestyle in at least 10 years and realizes it is a sin, but she stills considers herself to be a bisexual because she believes she was created with those instincts and that's impossible to be anything other than the way you were created. After talking with fellow pastors we believed that we didn't have anything to stand on to tell her she can no longer profess to be a bisexual especially if she believes she was created that way. The reason I am bringing this to discussion to the forum is because she is continuing the same political rants now and continuing to claim identity with the LGBTq movement. Her fiance is coming to the church regularly and threatened to never come back after he found out that we met with her privately. My fear now is that she will cause people on the team and in the congregation to believe that we embrace this lifestyle and are ok with people on our team openly practicing this sin. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.

  • #2
    Wow- that's a tough boat to be in. The short answer- she's right. We are all born into sin. The difference is in her testimony. It's one thing to acknowledge what you have struggled with, accept that Jesus can deliver you from that sin and do what's in your power to avoid the sin and temptation to sin. It's quite another to advertise it on Facebook and start identifying with a movement known to use bully tactics, intimidation and shaming to stifle opposition.

    The Facebook (a.k.a Fakebook) posts with political rants and all that noise is a topic in and of itself. It can either be a vehicle to spread positive language, love and encouragement or it can be a megaphone for idiots. Usually, it's the latter. In this case, it seems to be the latter. I tell my kids as well as the employees who report to me to be very careful what you post on social media. It's out there forever. Employers can find it, authorities can find it, and posting stupid stuff will hurt your life. People have been passed over for promotions because of Facebook posts- they didn't want to put that person posting a bunch of stupid political stuff and middle school locker room jokes in front of customers- especially diverse customers.

    This is how I would approach it- I would set the expectation with everyone on the team that they represent not only themselves but the church- even when they are off the platform. If behavior and conduct off the platform goes against the values of the church, we will have one discussion about it. if it doesn't change, you will be asked to step down. Being reasonable, everyone has a bad day and loses their cool at some point. It's not saying one has to be a perfect angel. But an established pattern of behavior (Facebook posts, acting like an idiot in public, badmouthing people, cursing like a sailor, etc.) that goes against your values as a church has no place on the team. And it's not only an 'image' issue for the church and the team, it's a judgment issue from God. God will judge the leaders harsher than anyone else. A person who is leading worship and blatantly fleshing out is bringing pretty harsh judgment on themselves.

    It's not what we do in church that people watch- it's what we do outside of church that people remember. When a person professes to be "Christian", they are announcing they are subjecting themselves to a higher standard of conduct. If they flesh out all the time and act like they've never even met Jesus let alone allowed Him to be Lord and Savior, that person just lost all credo. And if that person has your church logo all over their Facebook and has the bumper sticker while driving like an idiot and wears the T-shirt while cussing out their neighbor, that now has your name associated with it.It's one thing if they were just saved and the person is still a 'baby'- but after a while, they should know better.

    Punch line- if the person is engaging in behavior- either face to face or through social media- that goes against the values and expectations of your church ministry, you are well within your rights to ask them to step down- or you can step them down. You don't need that distraction.

    If she repents, changes her behavior, I also believe in second chances. But don't be surprised that she'll go off on you and call you guys haters and everything else.
    If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

    Comment


    • #3
      Hey Feedmysheep,

      Thanks for sharing about a very tricky situation. These circumstances have the capacity to bring out the best and worst in all of us, and it can be a vulnerable position in which to sit. So thanks for bringing it here.

      There's no formula for working this stuff out, only guiding principles. A lot of it will depend on her and on the relationship you can maintain with her through the process. The relationship may survive intact - it may require some repairwork - or it may not last.

      Mike is absolutely right about us all having sin in our lives. If we dismissed every sinner from ministry, we'd have no-one left standing, which I'm sure you appreciate. The issues for me are around patterns of sinful behaviour and also around the publicity of the sin.

      The reason why publicity is an issue for me is because being in worship ministry is a position of leadership. Doesn't matter whether the individual is a worship leader or not. Everyone involved is responsible, at least in part, for leading the congregation in worship. And, as in any position of leadership, reputation matters.

      As an example, we had a situation in my church where one of our singers was found to be a smoker. While I'm well aware that smoking is a common "vice" and that it was normalised in eras gone by, it still represents an area of sin, an area of life outside of our control that needs to be surrendered to Jesus. I took up the issue with our MD, who said that it wasn't an issue because that particular singer had no "leadership aspirations". Whereas to me, the singer was a leader like the rest of the band. The question we ultimately asked ourselves was this: If someone visits our church, sees the singer smoking outside beforehand, then goes in and sees the smoker singing on the platform, what conclusions might they draw about the church and about Christianity in general?

      Now, perhaps that hypothetical visitor might not care. No harm done. But what if it does matter to them? What impact has that had on their openness to Christ? Does it reinforce the idea that Christians are hypocrites, or worse, that sin is tolerated and even welcomed in the church?

      I think you are right to worry about the precedent that this might set. I think you need to be clear about expectations across the board. It's good to have a "job description" for each member of the band, outlining their duties and expectations. That way you have a foundation for addressing these types of situations.

      Being bisexual is just a symptom. This lady is engaging in political rants and potentially taking up a public, defensive position around this. This behaviour is more concerning to me than her sexual desires. I'd make her behaviour the focus of any future conversations.

      Peace be with you as you proceed. Feel free to post here again with updates or further questions.

      Steffie.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Steffie View Post

        As an example, we had a situation in my church where one of our singers was found to be a smoker. While I'm well aware that smoking is a common "vice" and that it was normalised in eras gone by, it still represents an area of sin, an area of life outside of our control that needs to be surrendered to Jesus. I took up the issue with our MD, who said that it wasn't an issue because that particular singer had no "leadership aspirations". Whereas to me, the singer was a leader like the rest of the band. The question we ultimately asked ourselves was this: If someone visits our church, sees the singer smoking outside beforehand, then goes in and sees the smoker singing on the platform, what conclusions might they draw about the church and about Christianity in general?

        Now, perhaps that hypothetical visitor might not care. No harm done. But what if it does matter to them? What impact has that had on their openness to Christ? Does it reinforce the idea that Christians are hypocrites, or worse, that sin is tolerated and even welcomed in the church?
        Let me ask you this- Did anyone have the discussion to refrain from smoking on campus? Did anyone offer to help the person quit, or at least provide encouragement to do so? This person smoked before it was 'discovered' by people on the worship team. It's still the same person, isn't it? Has their value changed in God's eyes after you all found out about the smoking? Do you think God receives his/her worship any less because they smoke?

        If one hypothetical person is drawing conclusions about an entire philosophy and way of life because they see one person is engaging in imperfect behavior, that kind of critical spirit in a person is going to find every other fault people have and be out the door anyways. Let me throw this out there- what if another person visits and sees the same thing and their impression is 'hey, this person smokes, they are here and participating, maybe this place isn't so judgmental like I keep hearing those Christians are.

        Not to sidetrack the discussion, but to play 'slippery slope' advocate a bit, the same thing you said for smoking can be said for obese people. It's just as damaging to our health as smoking, and usually represents a lack of self control over our flesh, just like smoking. And there are a whole lot of obese people serving in all aspects of ministry in the church, including me. Many people think overweight people are just as 'disgusting' as smokers, but we as a church don't seem to make a big deal about that. When I tend to start getting a little too haughty about someone's own bad habits or whatever, God will nudge me and say, 'remember that the next time you go back for seconds. You have enough of your own issues to work on- let me handle that person.'

        What about foul language? I still struggle with this too. Ironically enough, I see this creeping into church- it's becoming more and more ok to say we're "pissed" as one example. I was a mechanic for 12 years- I've said everything under the sun. Thanks to my old man, I had a pretty full vocabulary of bad language by the time I was 10. After I got saved in my mid '20s, I was able to curtail 90% of it- but there are moments where a bad word slips, and usually at the inopportune time. It's embarrassing and I am mad at myself for saying it. But it reminds me of two very important things- one, I am a LONG ways from perfect, and God can still use me to bring Him glory regardless of my faults.

        Drinking is another area that is one of those 'vices' that has a bad stigma. For what it's worth, the Wesleyan denomination has officially changed their stance on alcohol from 'no alcohol' to 'in moderation' for membership. It's still required to abstain for a leadership role like a board, etc. but general membership has loosened the expectation.

        Point being, the same rationale about smoking could be applied anywhere- a visitor sees people on our worship team chowing down donuts, sucking down a 44 oz. Mountain Dew Slurpee or that half pot o' coffee we just GOTTA have. Some people can find something about any one of us to say "See? They are hypocrites." Tying it back in to the main discussion, we all have our own sins and vices to worry about. We all stumble. We all struggle with something. If God required us to have 100% of our stuff together before we served in a ministry, well, we might as well shut the doors now. Not all are as obvious as smoking outside the front door, but we aren't fooling God. God accepts us and our genuine worship with all our vices and fleshly habits- He knows our hearts and our sins, even those we are unwilling to admit to ourselves- and still opens His heart to us through Jesus. I personally feel we need to be careful about how we judge others- we are calling the same standards of judgment on ourselves. We are already held to a higher standard- we can easily make it worse for ourselves.

        Back to the main topic (and again sorry for hijacking), we have to make sure we aren't acting in haughtiness. To me, someone having a smoke in the parking lot, we can work with that. Someone making a fool of themselves on social media by embracing controversial sociopolitical stances and publicly identifying with philosophies and tenets that directly conflict Christian doctrine, that's a whole different level.
        Last edited by Mike on Bass; 04-13-2017, 03:50 PM.
        If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Mike,

          I think we have gotten a little sidetracked. Of course, our first response to others is one of compassion. There is a pastoral issue here. We must come alongside them first and find out what is happening for them.

          Mike, you have touched on many areas of vulnerability for me. I know I can be a little judgemental - that's my own "addiction" - and sometimes I need the wisdom of others in discerning what is my own reaction and what may be the Spirit prompting me to act. At the same time, I do not think we should ignore these issues on the basis that we all are sinners. Symptoms such as smoking, or obesity, or drinking, or swearing, or platforming on facebook can certainly be addictive and indicative of bigger issues. Indeed, all our behaviours are simply symptomatic of the larger sin problem that lurks underneath.

          I think that finding the balance between respecting others' pace of growth and addressing issues that come to light is a tough one. It is one I constantly wrestle with. My approach is always a relational one: who is the best person to come alongside this individual and walk with them on this journey? That may be me or another leader - it's not always my problem to solve. Again, wisdom and discernment is needed here.

          FeedMySheep, I think the take-home point here is to keep love and relationship paramount, but also not to shy away from addressing the issues with this lady. She may react well or badly - we won't know until you go there - but there is a lot you can do to show her love in the process. And we can try not to be reactive or to let our own histories or points of vulnerability affect that. Easier said than done!

          May the Holy Spirit grant you great wisdom and grace in moving forward.

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