Rutger's basketball coach was suspended for his behavior this past summer. He threw basketballs at players, berated them, shoved them around the court and screamed homophobic slurs at them. You can watch it all, just google "Rutger's basketball coach" and it is there for everyone to see. His punishment? 75k dollar fine and a 3 game suspension. Why was this guy not fired? (he was fired at 8am Arizona time, after this post was written) At one UMC on Easter morning a church member, and the United Methodist Men's president, printed out a flyer blasting the pastor. He made copies on the church copy machine. He then walked out to the curb and personally handed out the flyer to everyone coming to worship that day.
At still another UMC, on Easter Sunday, during the fellowship hour with a room full of people, one member of the church screamed at the pastor loud enough for the whole room to hear "You're an ass........." This is not the first time she has failed to exercise adult boundaries. She has cursed the pastor before, she has broken a phone in the church office, and she has shouted "you are a liar!" to the administrative assistant. I could go on and on but you get the picture. Her punishment? Nothing so far. Absolutely nothing. She is still a member in good standing.
I know churches have a hard time putting boundaries on their members. I know churches have a hard time holding members accountable for their bad behavior. "That's just the way Linda is," churches say "she has been doing stuff like that for years. We try to ignore it and hope it will go away." This congregation continues its precipitous decline. Is there a correlation between this offensive, unboundaried behavior and the decline of the church? Absolutely!
The small church that has been in decline for years. The leadership pool is limited. Often times there is a job in the church and there are no willing leaders to take that job. This name calling, obscenity shouting member has been called on to do two of those jobs. It has gone beyond simple boundaries for members, it is now a question of who is an appropriate leader inside the local church.
The purpose of all churches is "to make new disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." On Easter Sunday morning there were dozens of potential new disciples sharing food and fellowship in the social hall. Do you think this member/leader's outburst or the flyer from the UMM president was a help or a hinderance to the primary purpose?