Thursday, April 5, 2018

Hey Doc … In your experience, what are the best practices for a church board when a fellow board member goes AWOL, wants his wife to leave the home and wants a divorce, and will not speak to me (the pastor) or the team?  Anything we can do, should do?

DRF—AWOL is the right term as that soldier is off base, literally and metaphorically. I’m so sorry to hear about this. Life is hard and then we mess it up even further. From the earliest days of humankind, we see God gently saying to Cain, “Is it not true that if you do what is right, you will be fine? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.” Genesis 4:7. In the next verse, we see Cain opening a murderous door.

Whether you have an Elder, Deacon or Trustee Board, the same scriptural concept in I Timothy 3:2 applies: “The overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher …” Your church constitution may have a clause about the qualifications of a board member as well. 

The Apostle Paul knew of issues like this. He says in Galatians 6:1-2, “Brothers and sisters, if a person is discovered in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness … Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” You have tried to meet with him and help him. You are on the right path. He may not want to meet with you because he “knows what you are going to say.” He feels guilt about his actions. Also, encourage some women meet with the wife for prayer and growth—she needs some Christian counseling from peers or a professional.

For the husband, set a season of time, perhaps 8, 16 or 26 weeks. In that defined season, ask the board to pray every day for the family, board unity and church health. It is a major issue when a board member goes AWOL. Contact the husband on a regular basis, perhaps every 10 days or so. Try phone, mail, email, text and personal visits. I would avoid social media unless it is a generic greeting and invitation to meet with no specifics. Don’t pester him but let him know that you want to talk and hear his story. You love him but not what he is currently doing to his family.

I he has not responded by the end of the season, then your board should consider formal action to remove him. As parents, we put our kids in “time out” so they an learn from their mistakes. Your formal action may help the man’s spiritual restoration.

Churches are villages. Everyone’s eyes will be on your actions—and if you lovingly but firmly take appropriate action. Take the utmost care what you say in public. You don’t want to be accused of slander. You may want to hold a “members only” meeting to inform the congregation of your action plan, steps for reconciliation and ultimate decision.

As WWII Fleet Admiral William Halsey said, “There aren’t any great men. There are just great challenges that ordinary men like you and me are forced by circumstances to meet.” Now is your time to face a great challenge. Be strong, loving and gracious. 

If I can help in this pivotal time in your church’s life, contact me again. Your church may need some strategic coaching with such monumental events. I’ll be praying.

Scripture from NetBible®