I received a nice email from a first time guest at our church this past Sunday. Part of the note said,"I really enjoyed your lesson on Sun. Your "please gossip, whine and complain elsewhere" policy is refreshing. We plan on returning to Nags Head..."
"Refreshing" is that feeling you get when you first brush your teeth in the morning. All the scum that has fermented in your mouth overnight as you slept is cleaned out and your taste buds aren't gagging.
Sunday I shared our position on why we don't allow divisive people to stick around. We actually have had to ask people to find somewhere else to spread their venom, since it was obvious they weren't with us to worship and serve.
My guess is that most pastors wish they could take a similar stand, but don't because somebody has them on a short chain, either a board or whoever controls the purse strings. The sad truth is that job security among pastors is non-existant in many circles. At the whim of a few many a good pastor has found himself kicked to the curb. So, telling someone to stop being divisive and a burr in the saddle of the body of Christ, "might offend Sister Flapjaws and we sure don't want to do that!". What's gagging the church is allowed to go on.
Never mind that "Sister (or Brother, for that matter) Flapjaws" is an offense to the cause of Christ.
Lest you think I'm a bit harsh, let me quote from one of my role models.
If anyone is causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with that person. For people like that have turned away from the truth. They are sinning, and they condemn themselves.
[Paul, the Apostle to Titus]
Church halitosis will keep those you're trying to reach from getting close enough to hear your message.