A famous frontiersman of long ago said, “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.” Every congregation is involved in decisions that concern its work and worship. Decisions made in haste—rashly, without consideration—can result in harm to the precious body of our Lord.
We must all carefully examine every action in which we plan to engage. God gave us a brain and a Bible—both must be used. Paul wrote, “Prove all things; hold that which is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21). By the pen of the same inspired writer, the Holy Spirit clearly set forth that all we do in Christian work, worship, and conduct is to be done by Divine authority (Colossians 3:17). But even where the Lord has commanded, there sometimes exists indecision, even stagnation. Right decisions can be squelched because of fear of fallout! Proper action by the church can be deterred because some are afraid of possible results. Good, wholesome spiritual growth in a congregation is stunted by being overly worried about how some will react.
For example, let us say that a congregation is selecting teachers for Bible classes. One indicating a desire to teach is not faithful in her Christian duty and conduct. The elders or men of the congregation discuss the matter, the facts are ascertained, and it is documented that this sister forsakes the assemblies and frequents the community dance floor. She would not be allowed to teach except for the fact that her immediate and extended family make up 18 of the 75 members in the congregation, and give almost $300 of the weekly contribution. What should be done? The answer is obvious to the Bible student.
What is done in some congregations? Sister “unfaithful” is given a Bible class to teach. Preaching brethren can succumb to fear of where the “chips may fall.” When the sermon really needs to be preached, but is withheld for fear of temper tantrums in the pews, then the church is weakened.
The pulpit becomes impotent when it no longer rings with the Word “in season, out of season” (I Timothy 4:2). The preaching that folks like is not always what they need. Paul “shrank not from declaring…anything that was profitable” to the Ephesian brethren (Acts 20:20). The fearless preacher stated: “Wherefore I testify unto you this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I shrank not from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). It is not enough for a preacher to say, “I do not preach any error.” The question is, will you preach the whole counsel of God? Will you stand where valiant men of old stood to fight every false way, without fear or partiality?
Elders can let intimidation from cliques influence their decisions as well. How many preachers have been hushed or fired to keep smiles on the faces of ungodly, weak, and rebellious members? How much good work has been halted because of objections from an extra noisy, grouchy, bitter, “squeaking wheel”? How many times does the projected contribution figure dip when the church needs to take disciplinary action against a wayward church member?
Remember, it does not hurt an apple tree for bad apples to fall off. The sooner we realize that a congregation can grow spiritually when declining numerically, the stronger the church will be! Some brothers and sisters strengthen the church by their presence and some by their departure. That may not be “politically correct” in our day of compromise and acceptance, but it surely is Biblical (I Corinthians 11:19).
When we let fear of where the “chips may fall” influence our decisions, we are surely headed down a dark road toward candlestick removal. When we do things God’s way—the right way—we enjoy the blessings and approval of Heaven. Let us study our Bibles, be sure our course of action is right, then follow it boldly and confidently. Our God who spoke the world into existence is certainly able to take care of a few falling chips.