"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." – Edmund Burke

If you really want to destroy your church quickly, here is the number one rule: zip your lips when you see something wrong.

Got that? Don’t say anything. Don’t speak up. Don’t voice your concerns. Don’t make waves.

Instead, when you see something wrong – when you observe sin, when you become aware of division, when you discern that people are dividing into camps, when you hear the whisper of rumor and slander – keep your mouth shut. Just ignore everything and pretend a) it will all go away on its own, or b) someone else will deal with it. But you, just keep your lips zipped and mind your own business.

Definitely don’t take seriously the words of Hebrews 5:14, which command each and every individual to “have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” And don’t read Galatians 6:1 where Paul states clearly “if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.”

In fact, you should ignore the example of Paul entirely, since he made a habit of confronting churches – from the person in the pew to the leaders at the top – when they were stepping off the narrow way. Oh – and don’t read the first three chapters of Revelation, or you might find Jesus himself, the Alpha and Omega, calling churches to task for condoning sin, being comfortable in complacency, and putting their noses in the air with pride.

Just keep quiet and pretend that everything is okay.

Of course, if you see something wrong and you don’t want your church to go down the tubes, then you’ll have to speak up. It’s a dangerous course – you could offend the people in power, you could find yourself on the bad end of a slander campaign, and you could start some serious fire. But if the fire is the Spirit of God, that’s a good thing: even if some people get burned in the purifying process.

If you choose to go that dangerous route, then keep two words foremost on your mind, in your heart, and on your lips: kindness and truth. Proverbs 3:3 is the best advice on this topic ever written: “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”

Without kindness, truth is a harsh sword that cuts and kills. We’ve all known people who spoke the truth without love – and left only broken bodies in their wake. But without truth, kindness is nothing more than a pat on the head and a platitude in the ear. Kindness by itself doesn’t have the iron to effect real change.

But kindness and truth working together … that is where transformation begins. When bold and humble saints of God are willing to risk “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), then the Word of God is released to “pierce as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow” and will “judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12) … and love will gently call the sinner home.

© 2008 Paula Marolewski

Author's Bio: 

Paula J. Marolewski provides challenging and interactive adult Bible studies for individuals, Bible studies, small groups, and adult Sunday School classes at Sink Your Roots (www.SinkYourRoots.com). Studies include such topics as Debunking the Myths about Knowing God's Will. The site also offers free weekly Seedlings - “Little thoughts that grow big results.”