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Dealing with undesirable church member departures

CHOOLWE CHOOLWE

Analysis: CHOOLWE CHOOLWE
AS I grow in ministry and in particular learn how to walk in love and take cognisant of who the real owner of the Church is, there are some things that maturity brings out and helps me enjoy peace with many. After all we are all headed for heaven as long as we remain in the faith.
The greater question of course should be whether we are fulfilling God’s purpose or not, because not all places can nurture one’s divine purpose.
Let me not divert. In this article I share some reasons why a genuine pastor will not curse former members.
A genuine pastor will not curse former members or spend time fighting them. Cursing members who have left church is an exposition of immaturity or the extent to which one may be learning to walk in the love of God.
I write as one who oversees over 36 churches and 32 campus fellowships and have been used by God to raise people from their doldrums and seen them grow to a glorious life.
Some of them did not only leave but formed malicious camps against me, among other things.
Yet to date I have never uttered a curse against anyone. I can’t just do that. It is not even conceivable.
So as I write, I hope you understand that I am not one who has not encountered these things. I rarely advise pastors in the media because I was not raised that way. But I felt led to share these thoughts so I can help someone and strengthen the body of Christ.
First let me address why people leave churches:
• It may be that their pastor has not handled them well. This represents the growth gaps of the pastor. As soon as one admits that they are growing, they get a lot better.
For instance, there are cases where I can tell that a member would not have left if I handled them differently. There are many meetings where I sit and listen to my father pastor, Chris Oyakhilome, and I say oh oh! I wish I knew this earlier, I would have handled person x and y in a different way. Pastors must not assume perfection if they are to grow in this area and retain many members.
• It may be a member’s own problem. This represents their growth gaps. They could have conducted themselves better. For example, there was nothing Jesus could do to stop Judas from doing what he did. There comes a place where after you have done all the teaching like Jesus did and you have prayed for them, their will is exercised independently. They choose whether to do right or wrong.
• It may be indeed God’s timing for them to explore His purpose, though this really requires great care and order to ensure God is indeed involved. It must never be used as a scapegoat where the issue has to do with differences that the Bible instructs to be resolved in a different way.
• There may be life issues such as relocating from one city to another or another country where the church may not have presence.
• It may just be pure rebellion on the part of a member or a pastor has fallen away.
• It may be an attack by Satan to strike the shepherd to scatter the flock so he can attack them easily. Remember that the greater battle is for souls.
You see, all the above scenarios require different responses. And the more open to learning we are, the better it will be for us as pastors.
Without pausing to reflect we will find ourselves at pains over matters we have no control over as was the case of Judas, who chose his final way, or we may defend ourselves on matters where it is us to grow. We need to be honest with ourselves to be able to handle such matters differently.
Let me come to why I believe no genuine pastor should curse former members.
As a pastor, the church is not a personal property. People are not mine. I am just a steward. I am to do everything possible like Jesus not to lose any of those the Father gives me to care for.
This fundamental fact of members not being personal property sounds simple yet very powerful. So these are God’s people. They are holy people. I cannot curse God’s flock. In fact I should never curse any person as a Christian.
As a steward, I must do my part and guide those entrusted in my hands very well despite the fact that the final choice, which may sometimes lead to destruction, lies with them.
There also comes a time when the only thing you can do as a pastor is to pray for those who have left. As a result of this, I have seen so many members return, especially those who strayed into questionable places.
You see beloved; the members are not our people. Let me end with a scripture to show you that you are not the overall shepherd. We have the Chief Shepherd. Other translations call him the Great Shepherd.
“Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honour.”(1 Peter 5:2-4 NLT).
Esteemed pastor, serve those people with joy and don’t treat them like personal property. Your reward is not with them. It is with the Lord but it will only come if you play your part. Do everything possible to be found to have played your part honestly.
The author is founder and president of the Gospel Envoys Church.

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