Anon and on

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Photo by NS Newsflash

I’ve just started being the minister of Slaley Methodist Church. As my largest church has grown, some of my smaller chapels have been reassigned, but I have gained Slaley.

This Sunday I had a voucher for a free newspaper, so before my service, I popped into the tiny village shop in Slaley 

The church is 100 yards further on, and I went in to meet the folk, to be followed five minutes later by one of the congregation who said “They told me in the Village Shop that the new minister had just been in”.

There were three people in the shop when I bought my newspaper, I didn’t recognise any of them, I didn’t mention my name, nor was I wearing a dog collar, or indeed anything that would identify me as a minister. They still knew who I was.

I guess you can’t be anonymous in Slaley(!)

Recently, there has been a tremendous amount of publicity about vile Internet trolls using Twitter to threaten public figures with rape.

These horrible attacks show a desire to avoid all accountability, and have used anonymity to bully. Why do people do this? Because they can.

The technology may be new, but the issue isn’t.

Of all people, Jesus said “Don’t be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don’t hesitate to go public now. Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, Who holds your entire life—body and soul—in His hands.”

When Jesus talked about how the church should be run, He said “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.”

It seems to me as though there should be no place for unaccountable anonymity in the church – we’re to do things out in the open and face to face. That’s the better way, and the Biblical way.

What do you think?

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6 thoughts on “Anon and on

  1. Amen indeed.
    I can’t think of many other organisations who would get away with it. A lack of transparency breeds suspicion and mistrust, not what we want in our church.

  2. I did a sermon on this last year at Calvary. Jesus seeks in the last text mentioned to put an end to Triangling…that bit where we talk to others about the person we struggle with INSTEAD OF DEALING WITH THE PERSON DIRECTLY. Amen and blessings on you at Slaley and at Trinity!

  3. What a great opportunity in Slaley. Even those not associated with the Methodist Church there know who its new minister is. They are are likely to be interested in knowing more about him and what he has to say. I pray that such opportunities will arise.

    However, it concerns me that the quotes from The Message (Matthew10:26-28 & 18:15-17) may be oblique references concerning the process of ministerial appointments within the Methodist Church in the UK. Why the link about how a church should be run? It appears to resonate with one respondent. I fear any reader may construe it to be a bullying process (only The Message uses the word, whereas all translations refer to being killed). The whole message of Matthew 10:15-35 is that the believing community must not be fractured into rival parties and unreconciled relationships. Its members are to reconciliation, and forgive willingly. At times, however, stern discipline may be necessary. Jesus’ words in the passage quoted are not an excuse for a frontal attack on every person who hurts, slights or even disagrees with us. They are not a license to start a destructive gossip campaign or to call the church to trial. They are designed to reconcile those who disagree so that all christians can live in harmony, even if agreeing to differ in love – God’s love.for us. It grieves me when I hear (and see) people describing a well established and clearly laid out process as unaccountable and ungodly. I can clearly see where confidentiality is required in the invitation consultation process. “What has been hidden that will not be made known?” (Matt.10.26) Without it, gossip, rumour-mongering and dissension will prevail. Perhaps a lack of knowledge and understanding of the Methodist way of doing things (safeguarding) has led to anxieties being raised – but who’s responsibility is that?

      • Ah, I hadn’t realised the Methodist Way was unbiblical. I believe that is what is being put about. We may have to differ, in love. Hebrews 13: 17 and 1 Peter 2: 13 come to mind, unless it is considered that a church needs no form of governance.

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