Reputation rebuilding for scandalous church

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Dr.Tim, Apr 1, 2005.

  1. Dr.Tim

    Dr.Tim
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    I am going to have to be as ... (what is the word???) vague about the situation that i will explain so that no one will be able to pinpoint the church I am explaining.. (not good English).

    A decade ago I was told of a ministry that had been started and was slowly growing. It's a hearing church situation and the church had grown to a sizable amount of attendants. In two years time, the church had tripled in attendance and the revival that they had back then drew about 4 times the amount they usually have on Sunday morning. The church had purchased a large building, much larger than needed. Now, for revival, it was almost completely filled.
    The second night of revival was a complete disaster. The visiting speaker stood up and proceeded to make the most ridiculous remarks to the crowd, which was about 75% visitors who had no training in the area in which this man was speaking. To make a long story short, this singlehandedly KILLED the church in one night. The third night, which was the final night of revival, the church had lost ALL the visitors and only about half of the members showed up. This was a regular Wednesday night service, and there were only about half the people that usually showed up. The following Sunday, about the same number of people showed up.
    The narrow-minded message preached by this visiting preacher touched on everything from makeup for women to sex for married couples. He went through the usual ranting that a brainwashed person goes through and basically made everyone that did not do everything EXACTLY as his pastor did feel like they were CURSED. He used that word no less than 30 times in an hour.
    Not long after the revival, the church had slowly began to find people who had no knowledge of the events of the revival and came thinking that the church was fine.
    In time, the leader of the church was caught in the most horrendous crimes and accused by many of the town folk of being responsible for the death of one person. I personally never met the individual and cannot even form an opinion.
    After a divorce and remarriage, the church was in shambles and the entire community labeled this man and his wife as adulterers, and the man moved to another area and basically continued on a downward spiral.
    The church itself was left hurt, blind-sided by an attack of the Devil and just barely stayed open. Some of the people who had left came back and slowly began to convince people that everything was ok.
    The present pastor sent word to me yesterday that he has been praying about sending out a city-wide letter to everyone and let them know that things are different now, that the offending few have left and the church is returning slowly to its former glory.

    As it was explained to me, the church had been in a real struggle for two years and the growth has been less than encouraging. Those on visitation report that the town folk have still not forgotten what happened and that they are still too suspicious to return to this church, which was, at one, the best church in the area.

    I was asked to meet with this pastor when I can get out that way and discuss the possible options. For one thing, I truly HATE to see churches fall. I hate it.. one church that fell...when I went there to look over the stuff they were selling, I looked at the church scrap book and I saw all the smiles on the people's faces and I saw them working to build the church..the baptisms..the weddings... it brought tears to my eyes. I am AGAINST the closing of churches.. it just rips me to pieces.
    How do you rebuild a church with a scandalous reputation?
    (((((In New Orleans, some of the churches that have had big splits have never recovered. One split over a stained glass window and the building which seats about 500 people only has about 50 members now..imagine!!!))))

    One visiting preacher who knows of this situation that I mentioned above and he says.. "tell the pastor to keep on preaching the Word". I just know I am not going to tell him to close the doors.. I cant do that...

    any thoughts????????????????????
     
  2. El_Guero

    El_Guero
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    Repentance and forgiveness are both necessary for healing to take place.

    Sometimes the amount of pain that is suffered before the turn around begins is more than we want to bear.

    Wayne
     
  3. mcgyver

    mcgyver
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    Hi Dr Tim.....

    I know that it may sound trite (and I don't mean it to), but that church is God's church, and He will take care of re-building it.....

    I walked into a similar situation about 3 years ago. The first morning that I preached (filling the pulpit) there were four people in attendance and I managed to run two of them off for the evening service. [​IMG]

    I knew in my heart though, that this was where the Lord had called me. The church, when they asked me to pastor it several months afterward, had the money to make the bills for one month; and then they were going to shut the doors.

    In the past (almost) three years, we have increased attendance over ten-fold (when one considers that we are in an isolated village of about 275...that's not too bad); and are now a vibrant, Christ-centered, growing church, looking to win the other 215 to Christ!

    The point I want to make is this.....it didn't happen overnight, and God is the one who is doing the miracles. All I've done is to try as best as I know to be faithful to preaching the message of the cross. I feel that I'm just a lamb with a bell on .......

    Tell that pastor to hang in there, don't get discouraged, and don't be afraid to do what God has called him there to do. For truly, if he is God's man in that church....the very gates of Hell will not prevail against it, and the Lord will bring the sheep back into the fold!
     
  4. Dr.Tim

    Dr.Tim
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    Amen! I know he wants to continue.. he has the idea in his mind that an apology needs to be offered to those offended. We know God will work things out but He has put it in our hands to deal with it.. not really mine, but the pastor of the church. The man himself, he is not going to slack off from preaching..he does that fine as I am told but he thinks that a church that is hated because it did wrong is in need of apology. A church that is hated for doing right is fine!..
    Going to probably send out either a mailing or take out newspaper ad. I hope to converse with the person again who contacted me last night.

    pray.. ok???

    tim
     
  5. mcgyver

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    Tim,
    My prayers are with that pastor and that church; and you also for wisdom as you try to comfort and counsel your friend.
     
  6. Dr.Tim

    Dr.Tim
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    thanks bro
     
  7. exscentric

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    Personal opinion a letter or ad would be out of line in many towns. Word of mouth will cure the past if the Lord is in the work.
     
  8. mountainrun

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    I think an ad would be a fine idea.
    My church has been through a similiar, though not as bad, situation.

    Pretending all is well is what got us in trouble in the first place.

    Hoping no one would find out about the troubles is ignoring the word of mouth syndrome that gets the word of trouble out.

    The church should acknowledge its failing to the community and let them know they are back on track.

    Good news must be announced.

    Bad news, and bad reputations, need no announcement.

    MR
     
  9. Dr.Tim

    Dr.Tim
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    word of mouth is what got them into trouble.. think it would get them out too?
    maybe so.
    one thing they will do is send a letter to the two men.. one is not going to respond because he is out in the world.. a mess. The other one is trying to have a ministry without God's hands on it..and he has nothing really.
     
  10. gb93433

    gb93433
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    Some years ago I replanted a church that lost its pastor and building. I did that by training the people to study the Bible and lead Bible studies, share their faith and to reach out to others. The people and church grew from that point one by one by being real and sincerely reaching out to others.

    It was amazing how creative the people got at reaching others effecively.
     
  11. mountainrun

    mountainrun
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    No, Dr.Tim. I'm saying it WON'T get them out.
    Word of mouth is prone to enhancement and embellishment.
    Everyone has to add their own perspective before the pass it on.

    An ad would be best I think.

    You may find pride to be a barrier to this idea with some people though.

    I know this idea would never fly in my church.

    MR
     
  12. gb93433

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    I know of a church that shut the doors for about two months and remodelled the building. Before that time it was running about 50 and dying. When the church shut down and started again they changed their name and leadership too. The first week after opening was about 250. Two years later it was about 700. Often the "old guard" keeps it from growing.

    I think it would be wise if the pastor apologized to the congregation about inviting such an idiot.

    But there are times when other leaders in a denomination recommend that a pastor have a particular person in to preach and the pastor is left holding the bag.
     
  13. Dr.Tim

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    haha..yeah.. the pastor..the first one even admitted to me that it was a big mistake to invite this man..he told me this not long after the visiting speaker had left. But as you say..this man was one that the alma mater pushed and was trying to get into the limelight.
     
  14. exscentric

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    What I had in mind is that if the Lord is blessing the work the people will go out and share what He is doing with others and the good news will get around.

    That is what is in the early part of Acts and it worked and the same Holy Spirit is still around I think.

    I doubt you need to take out an ad to tell the town the church had problems :)
     
  15. gb93433

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    That's often part of the political football in a number of denominations and schools.
     
  16. mountainrun

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    exscentric..
    quote--I doubt you need to take out an ad to tell the town the church had problems :) --quote

    No one is talking about taking out an ad to tell about the problems.
    The ad would apologize to the community.

    Read the post.

    MR
     
  17. exscentric

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    You said "The church should acknowledge its failing to the community and let them know they are back on track."

    I was commenting on "Acknowledge its failing"
     

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