Sermon:  Say It, Pray It

Summary:  Jesus instructs us to confront patterns of destructive behavior in the 
congregation so we can pursue the Mission of God in our lives.  It is helpful to examine 
root causes for this as a preventive measure.

Know:  It is destructive to allow destructive behavior to go unchecked in the congregation.  
The congregation needs to agree on this and with one voice and say that his is 
unacceptable and reject it

Feel:  Courage to exercise Christian discipline when needed

Do:  Spend time in reflection and prayer concerning the pattern of destructive and 
contentious behavior in the congregation.  Come to a shared understanding that this is 
OUR problem as a congregation, and that each of us has some part in overcoming it.  
Take note of the Biblical solutions and commit to implementing them now and whenever 
these sorts of problems arise.

Text:  Heb 13:17

Scripture Reading:  1 Thess 5:11-22

1.  In Small Group Leader Training - If there is a problem, deal with it
	a.  Say it - Identify it to the group, group ownership of the problem
	b.  Pray about it
	c.  In other words, say in and pray it
		-  If we don't challenges become chronic problems rather than 
		    opportunities for learning and growth
		-  Don't sweep it under the rug, it will eventually become obvious
2.  Human nature is to prefer not to talk about the negative - Embarrassing, keep 
     it quiet
3.  God highlights BOTH success and failure of his people in scripture
	a.  God's people spoke of how God delivered "me" from bondage in Egypt
	b.   Not just some ancient people, but us
	c.   It is "our" heritage, we are children of Abraham
	d.  More recent church history and congregational histories are also a part 
	     of our history
4.  Do like Paul in 1 Cor 10
	a.  Highlights the sin of the people in the wilderness
	b.  Purpose of highlighting his history - "Don't be like that any more"
	c.  Sometimes there are people who are contentiousness, backbiting, 
	     fighting, meanness, etc.
		- If this is true, is this a commentary on them, or on the rest of the 
5.  Not go away on its own - Need to say it and pray it…. Here is what we have
6.  If you do not, and if leaders do not, here is what you could wind up with…

I.  Beat up, injured, worn out leaders
	A.  Sleepless nights, loss of appetite, stress illnesses, dread coming
		1.  Problem will be never ending, will fester.  
		2.  Also affects their wives 
	B.  (Heb 13:17)
		1.  "Obey (be persuaded) by your leaders, and submit to their authority.  
		     They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.  Obey 
		     them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no 
		     profit to you."
		2.  May not realize that
			a.  Even though elders counsel, encourage, build up, protect 
			     from predators, 
			b.  There are times when they need the same
		3.  If you make their job a burden, it is not a benefit, but detriment
	C.  ILL:  My friend Brian the rebellious kid
		1.  Manipulative, threw fit until he got what he wanted
			a.  Became unmanageable
			b.  Last time saw him, very drunk
		2.  Dad suffered, lost hair, health, had to quit job
			a.  Finally Brian dropped out of school 
			b.  Went to go live with a friend
			c.  Had to change the locks of the house
			d.  Wound up making a mess of his life
		3.  People commented about what Brian put parents through
			a.  Brian irresponsible, focus completely on self
			b.  Rebellious and childish
			c.  He treatment of his parents was no profit to himself
		4.  Maybe we know people like that
	D.  Sad thing - There are adults who act similar ways
		1.  Cause all kinds of grief to those entrusted with leadership
			a.  Has happened in the past
			b.  Has continued to happen
		2.  These kinds of people are goats and wolves among sheep 
		3.  Goats and wolves need to be dealt with firmly and quickly

II.  Tolerance of goats and wolves
	A.  Some try to be bigger person and let it go
		1.  There are times to let something go
		2.  There are other times when you cannot let it go and remain 
		      faithful to God
			a.  If it is a rebellious attitude, or behavior
			b.  If it is a disruptive pattern of behavior
		3.  Imagine what happen if let wolf wander around freely, trying to 
		     be "bigger than they are"
	B.  (Jude 1:8-19)
		1.  Whew!  Look at characteristics of these wolves and goats
			a.  Reject authority, revile what they should respect
			     Unreasonable, grumblers, fault-finders, arrogant
			     Interested only in what they want, cause divisions.  
			b.  Will flatter you in order to get you on their side
			c.  Devoid of the Spirit
			d.  Feasted among them without fear
				- They had free reign, no one did anything
				- Perhaps they trying to be bigger than them
				- Perhaps they hope it would go away
				- Maybe waiting for someone else to do something
		2.  What should have happened?
		3.  Whose responsibility?  Not just someone else's
			a.  Of course, leaders need to deal with it, but not always 
			b.  When something happens, it is OUR collective problem
			c.  A congregation needs to be together on this
	C.  ILL:  Ingrown Toenail got infected
		1.  Affected the whole body
			a. Went to doctor three times - Not just his problem
			b.  I had to do my part - It a whole body problem
			c.  Unhealthy to sit back and do nothing
		2.  What do you think of neighbors who do nothing when a neighbor 
		     gets mugged, robbed, raped, etc.?
			a.  Has happened in some of our cities
			b.  Maybe hoping someone ELSE called the police
				- Maybe hope it would go away
				-  It was not their problem
			c.  What a commentary on citizens who care so little about 
			     others and so much about self they close their eyes and 
			     ears and refuse to even call the police
			d.  It WAS their problem, - only get worse when do nothing
	D.  (Rom 16:17) - Scripture bears this out - it is OUR problem
		1.  Addresses the ENTIRE congregation, it is the entire 
		     congregation's problem
		2.  Other passages that say it is entire congregation problem
			a.  Mt 18:15-17 - Brother, two or three others, whole church
			b.  Tit 3:10-11 - Reject factious man after 1st & 2nd Warning
				knowing he is perverted, sinning, self condemned
			c.  2 Thess 3:10-14 - Don't associate with busybodies
		3.  NOTHING magnanimous or honorable about putting up with 
		     goats or wolves
			a.  Allow their behavior is destructive to the flock and to 
			b.  How is it a higher thing to allow it?  It is not
		4.  Root of problem is even deeper…get to the root

III.  Being More American than Christian.
	A.  Rom 12:1-2 
		1.  Not to be conformed to world even in our thinking
		2.  We unwittingly parrot attitudes of world around us
	B.  Some of the ways our culture has invaded our thinking
		1.  Individualism - Originally controversial, but now accepted 
			a.  Def:  Individualism is a term used to describe a moral, political, 
or social outlook that stresses human independence and the importance of individual self-reliance 
and liberty. Individualists promote the exercise of individual goals and desires. They oppose most 
external interference with an individual's choices - whether by society, the state, or any other group 
or institution. Individualism is therefore opposed to holism, collectivism, fascism, communalism, 
statism, totalitarianism, and communitarianism, which stress that communal, group, societal, racial, 
or national goals should take priority over individual goals. Individualism is also opposed to the view 
that tradition, religion, or any other form of external moral standard should be used to limit an 
individual's choice of actions.
			b.  How can you have society, or nation based on 
				-  "Social Contract Theory," Locke & Rousseau - 
				    Belief that free, autonomous people will decide out 
				    of a rational self-interest to enter into a social 
				    contract in order to produce a progressive society.  
				-  Self-interest is motivation for being good and loyal 
				-  Really no such thing as true collective responsibility. 
			c.  Closely related aspect is….
		2.  Consumerism - Personal Rights over Responsibility
	C.  Have these affected us?
		1.  Shopping
			a.  Stacey sends me to get mundane "soap" at the store
				- Whole wall of choices, brands, scents, for ladies…
				- Individualism/consumerism = plethora of vendors 
				  and choices 
			b.  Affected the Church?
				- Open yellow pages, can go church shopping
				- Individualist Consumer, see churches as vendors of 
				   religious goods
				- Choose one that fits my tastes the best, if not like it, 
				   shop for another one
				- Self interest - What makes me feel good & 
		2.  Ownership
			a. Neighborhood construction an expression of individualism
				- Have own plot of land, privacy fence, 
				- It is MINE, it has nothing to do with you
			b.  Affect Church? - Think of this as "mine"
				- Don't care if not good for reaching a changing 
				  culture, I am not a missionary 
				- It is "My church", I mean "our church" don't change a 
				  single thing, whether it has outlived its effectiveness 
				   or not
				- Want what is comfortable to me, not what fulfills 
				  God's mission (unless it is comfortable)
				- Stewardship?  My job as a steward is to protect what 
				   is mine, bury it in the ground, not invest it to where it 
				   grows and looks different!
			c.  Problem may be that I have built my faith in forms and 
			     traditions that are subject to change, rather than the God 
			     who never changes.
		3.  Marketing:
			a.  Market driven by needs and desires of the consumer
				-  Customer satisfaction is of utmost importance. 
				- The customer is always right.  
				- As customers, we go where get best product for the 
				  cheapest and the best service
			b.  Affected the church?
				- Not going to talk about entertainment church
				- Last 50 years, increase emphasis on soul care, 
				  pastoral care, counseling - good thing
				- But has been emphasized to the neglect of 
				  evangelism and discipleship  
			c.  Individualism, consumerist Christians expect:
				- Not for leaders to lead them, but to care for them
				- Self-help sermons, inspiring, make feel good about 
				   selves without accountability
				- If don’t do it, then get rid of them or go elsewhere
			d.  Different perspective in ministry of Christ and Acts
				- They did care, but focus was evangelism and 
				- Goal was spiritual development in order to fulfill the 
				   mission of God
				- Mt 28:20 - Make disciples of all the nations
				- Acts 8 - Leaders delegated care of widows to 7 men 
			 	  so they could focus on prayer and ministry of word
					- Understood their role clearly
	D.  Leaders are not CEO, and members are not voting shareholders
		1.  This is the Kingdom of God
		2.  We organize around the Mission of God, not our own desires 
		3.  Many American values diametrically opposed to Christian ones
			a. We do not enter into a social contract when become a 
			b.  Instead, we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord
			c.  We respect and honor his mission
			d.  Respect an honor God's leaders in the kingdom
		4.  It is not about me and what I want
			a.  About being formed into the image of Christ
			b.  It is about carrying out his mission to a broken world

1.  Could any of this be the root of contentiousness?  Yes.
2.  Bible characterizes these values as they are
	a.  We might call it the "Spirit of the Age" as opposed to the "Age to Come"
	b.  Bible calls these "authorities, powers, and principalities"
	c.  This is Spiritual Warfare Language - Satan uses these values to 
	     undermine the mission of God
	d.  Need to keep identifying and reject what doesn't fit in to the Kingdom 
3.  Identify a manifestation of it - Contentiousness
	a.  It is OUR problem, not someone else's problem
4.  Consider the model of Christ
	a.  (Phil 2:5-8) - 
		- Jesus made the sins of the world his problem 
		- He became one of us and took on sin head on
		- He named it and he dealt with it
		- He poured himself out
	b.  Problem - When we do not pour ourselves out, then we are not 
	     following him 
	c.  We become too full of ourselves - How can Christ be in us?
	d.  When full of self, we become individualistic, consumerist Christians
		- Act like and think like the world around us\
		- We become opposed to God himself

5.  Options in dealing with conentiousness…
	a.  Let pride get in the way, be offended, retaliate against me or others.  
	     This is counterproductive and destructive
	b.  Run away with your tail between your legs - This is not helpful
	c.  Ignore it - This will only allow it to get worse
	d.  Be honest, humble, -- say it and pray it 
		- Say, no more of this.  It stops today
		- Do what the Bible instructs us to do
6.  If are not faithful in this, how will God fulfill his mission through us?
7.  If we are faithful in this, it will enable us to be brighter lampstands

Small Group Questions:  Say It, Pray It

Summary:  Jesus instructs us to confront patterns of destructive behavior in the congregation so 
we can pursue the Mission of God in our lives.  It is helpful to examine root causes for this as a 
preventive measure.


1.  What is your gut reaction to the history of contentiousness in your congregation?  To any 
contentiousness in more recent times?

2.  Scripture is very clear on what to do with contentious behavior (Rom 16:17; Tit 3:10-11; 
2 Thess 3:10-14).  What have been some reasons why we have not carried out what scripture 
teaches us on this?

3.  Is it more loving to say, "That's just the way he is" and let it go, or to confront destructive 
behavior, even if it leads to disciplinary action?  Explain.

4.  What potential things can happen when destructive behavior goes unchecked?  What potential 
things can happen when destructive behavior is dealt with directly?

5.  When Jesus made sin his problem and faced it head on, he left us a model.  Using his example, 
the conclusion is that destructive behavior in a congregation is not just someone else's problem, it 
is OUR problem, the whole congregation's problem.  What role do we each play in this?  What can 
we each do about it?

6.  If a person refuses to acknowledge rebellion, sin, factiousness, contentiousness, etc. and 
refuses to repent, what would God have us to do and why?  What happens when a little leaven is 
left in the lump unchecked?

7.  How is this whole discussion important to our efforts to carry out God's mission?

Prayer:  (spend some significant time in prayer)
	Prayer of Relinquishment to God's Will and not our own
	Prayer of Rededication to God's Mission
	Pray for our We Care Plans for next year

Remember the Empty Chair