As I wake up this morning, parts of Christianity are seemingly in a tailspin.
If you live in Southern Baptist world, a report released yesterday is sending shock-waves through not only churches across the country, but across secular media as well. Do a quick Google search to find stories in The New York Times, Washington Post, and practically every other media outlet naming sins (and names) of prominent leaders in the movement that go back decades.
This morning, many people are angry. And rightfully so.
But how did we get here? And how can we prevent this kind of thing from happening again?
I think it all starts with one simple rule. It's a rule that almost all of us have been taught since birth. And it's a rule that, when we forget its basic tenant, things go south real fast. Sins are committed. And consequences can be... well... devastating.
Today, I'm re-posting something I wrote pre-pandemic. It sounds like it could have been written this morning. And it's still as true today as it was three years ago.
Consider the following this morning:
The "Golden" rule.
We've been taught it since birth.
It's outlined in Matthew 7:12.
"Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you."
But have you heard of the "Silver" rule?
"Don't do to others what you don't want them to do to you."
Is it just me, or is the world going a little crazy?
It seems everyone has picked a side and is sticking to it.
Inside and outside of the church...
Recently in the church, a few significant scandals have been rocking movements, denominations and evangelicals in particular.
The result of the storyline of both prominent leaders that fall affects each one of us as church leaders. And these storylines jeopardize the healthy future of the big "C" church, whether we like it or not.
Some of this change will be for the better, to be sure. But the pain of current change is yet another smudge on the reputation of U. S. Christianity.
It seems that we make changes only when we need to. And that 'need to' is usually prefaced by a blog post, a newsletter article, or a group of people that say enough is enough.
How do we stop this from happening in the future?
I think it could be as simple as the "Golden" and "Silver" rules.
First of all... treat everyone the way that you'd like them to treat you.
Simple concept. Hard to do. Because we're usually thinking about ourselves BEFORE others.
But the truth is... if we treated others the way we hoped they would treat us, the world would be a different place.
THE CHURCH WOULD BE A DIFFERENT PLACE.
I talk with churches and staff people every day that have violated the "Golden" rule. And they're a mess. Relationships blow up. Chaos reigns. Ministry suffers.
And many times, it all starts with someone thinking about themselves over others.
Of course, it's not that easy.
But honestly, in many cases, it is.
When we put other people above ourselves, we treat them differently.
Romans 12:18-19 gives us great advice: "Carefully consider what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible on your part, live at peace with everyone."
The world (and the church) would be a better place if we took these words seriously.
But that's only half of it.
The "Silver" rule says, "Don't do to others what you don't want them to do to you."
Have you ever been mistreated in the church?
Treating people harshly. Shading the truth. Manipulation. Entitled thinking. Not keeping promises. I think we can all agree that we don't want to be treated like this.
If you don't want to be treated like this, then don't treat others like this.
Perhaps the situations that we currently find ourselves in could come down to these two rules.
As leaders, let's learn from what's going on around us.
The moment we elevate ourselves over another brother or sister in Christ, we have a high likelihood of violating one or the other of these two rules.
And as we're finding out, it hardly ever ends well.
I would love your thoughts. Hit reply if you wish.