Posted by: Pastor Terry Hagedorn | August 13, 2019

The Most Dangerous Church Member

The Most Dangerous Church Member (c)
Pastor Terry K. Hagedorn

The pastor solemnly announced, “Sadly folks, the time has come for me to take action on a problem that is about to split our church. I hate to do it, but it must he done! In the Sunday evening service, 1 am going to name the member that is about to destroy this church.”

A collective gasp rose from the audience. Instantly; murmurings and whispered discussions sprang from every corner of the auditorium. One woman almost fainted. While some faces turned deathly pale, other faces became two to three times redder than usual!

Who could it be? raced through many people’s minds. More than one member suspiciously glanced at the other. Some craned their necks and rolled their eyes while still trying to appear to face forward. Eyes searched the crowd, trying to pick out the ornery rascal—or “rascalette.”

One woman leaned over and pompously whispered to her friend., “I know who it is. Call me later, and I’ll tell you”

Evidently, she was not the only one who knew. Indeed, many phone lines burned that afternoon. Accusations and denials went flying: “I’ll bet it’s _______. You know what she told ______,don’t you?”

“Don’t you know _______ has been mad at Pastor ever since Pastor “Well, if it isn’t ______, then I don’t know who it could be . . . .”

In the course of that long, hot, sordid, summer afternoon, almost every member was riot only mentioned as the potential Judas, hut also unceremoniously tried and condemned in absentia. Some members actually looked forward to having the traitor publicly humiliated in the evening service, gloating, “It’s about time he got what’s coming!”

A small number of the self-repentant met with the pastor immediately after the morning service, they apologized with many tears, promising never to cause trouble again and confessing many hidden sins—if he just would not name them from the pulpit. The pastor sadly responded, “I’m sorry. I forgive you for any wrong you’ve done me, and I know that God. will forgive you as well. However, I said I was going to do it Now I have to do it” Some of the people’s contrition reminded the pastor of an American humorist’s story about the cannibals who received a nasty letter from a mission board because they had eaten two of its missionaries. The cannibals wrote back, “It was all a dreadful mistake. We are truly sorry that you have withdrawn your mission from our fair land. If you send us bigger missionaries, we promise never to do it again. You can take our word for it— honest!”

That afternoon the deacons called a secret meeting to discuss the emergency formation of a pulpit committee. “We aren’t supposed to meet like this, but we’ve got to think about the good of the church,” the chairman of the deacons announced. “I was a deacon here when that whipper-snapper was in diapers, and I’ll he here when he is sent packin’. Mind, you, I’m just thinking about the church. Don’t get me wrong——the pastor’s a good man and all. He was doing a good job, but now he’s stopped preachin’ and started meddlin’. The church is more important than any old pastor. Listen, if he names a name, I’ll immediately call for his resignation. Are you for me or against me?” The deacons voted unanimously to support him—just as their wives had told them to do.

Other members spent the day contemplating what other church they might attend after theirs “blows up.” But they had no intention of looking for another church home that night. They wouldn’t miss the show for anything.

Some of those “church-shoppers” called pastors and members at surrounding churches, explaining, “I don’t want to gossip, but you should probably expect an increase in your membership. Isn’t it amazing how the biggest gossips usually start by claiming, “I’m not gossiping. . . .” or “I don’t mean to or want to gossip, but . . . .”

If their names were mentioned, some members planned to stand and publicly denounce their pastor. Others announced that they would stand with them.

The media was called and was told that trouble was brewing—maybe even a fight would erupt—at the church that night. The press promised full coverage with cameras inside and out. No one planned to miss the evening service. In fact, a record-breaking crowd attended—that many people hadn’t turned out for revival meetings! Even the pastor was amazed at the large crowd!

As the head. usher updated the brag board’s “Record Attendance” space, he fretted that he might not have enough 9s. He complained to his friend, “I told Pastor we needed more numbers three months ago! He isn’t so busy that he couldn’t have gotten them for me. Now what am I going to do? Our last pastor, may he rest in peace, always took care of those things. I don’t know about this one.”

Finally, the moment of truth arrived. The pastor solemnly approached the pulpit. He carefully surveyed his audience.

The whole scene appeared almost apocalyptic. With a grave voice the pastor began, “I am now going to name the member that is going to split this church. He paused. “Please turn in your Bibles to James 3:5 and 6. ‘Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature . . . .’”


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