The Letter



One of my closest friends is a pastor in the Georgia area. That’s all I’ll tell you about him because some people just have to play, ‘Inspector Clouseau’ and track’m down. If that’s you, you have WAAAAY too much time on your hands.

Anyway, my friend’s been through a lot lately with some power hungry elders. I feel for him and every other minister who gives everything they have for the body of Christ only to see one or two self deluded individuals claim that God told them it’s time for their pastor to hang up his pulpit.



I was just seething with righteous indignation as he told me what these men had done not only to him but also to his family with their slander and gossip in the church.



Did I mention that this guy is one of the godliest men I know? We’ve followed each other’s ministries for years. These self appointed prophets of doom aren’t worthy to chew the gum off the bottom of his Tevas! Nevertheless, he’s shown mind boggling patience and grace to these ungrateful power grabbers.


The good news is that the trouble makers are finally gone—kicked out by a couple of godly leaders with backbone. The bad news is that the rat pack has decided to threaten to lob one final grenade on the way out.


What is it you ask?

The Letter

Remember “Friday the 13th?” That was nothing compared to this.



What about Freddy Krueger?






For some in Christian circles, by far the most scary thing imaginable is…





If a pastor stays true to the Word and makes the tough calls, inevitably, some unbalanced individual is going to throw the “Letter Card!” I’ve had so many thrown I can almost start my own deck!





Because there’s no arguing with the truth, so these modern day zealots sometimes feel they have little recourse but to prop up their otherwise hopeless and ungodly behavior with a letter campaign. After all, we live in a culture that often goes with the majority. If you can get some numbers behind you, who needs the truth? A lie is juicier and far more exciting than the plain old, boring facts. It’s why slander makes the front page of every newspaper while retractions usually get tucked away near the classifieds.


But then here’s the rub. Ninety-nine percent of the time the letter(s) never arrive. Rarely one might come through from a non Christian, but the backslidden believer usually thinks twice. It would seem most of them come to the logical conclusion (in a rare moment straying from illogic–somewhere between seething anger and the post office) that the very act of sending out the old, “To Whom it May Concern,” starts them off in a very deep hole. You see, most people perceive that an individual who would do this for nebulous reasons at best, is usually the one with the problem.



So I encouraged my friend that in my opinion they were just blowing smoke. I told him to hold fast to what God told him to do to handle the ungodly behavior and that, IMHO, the letters would never materialize.


He seemed doubtful.



So I asked the logical follow up?



Joe? (Not his real name), honestly, is this really the first time some disgruntled person has promised to shower the congregation with their hand written pearls of wisdom?



“Well,” he replied, “Not really. Actually, I’ve had this happen a few times before.”



And?” I continued.



“Nothing came of it…



But this is different!” He insisted.



“No it’s not,” I stubbornly pressed. “It’s not different at all. It’s just fresh, so it feels that way. And what’s more, in a way, if he actually did send it out he would be doing you a favor. Haven’t you ever heard the saying, “Better to close one’s mouth and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt?”



These types of letters tend to remove all doubt more affectively than anything. It’s not biblical. It’s not the way God tells us to handle conflict (Matthew 18), it reveals a total disdain for the body of Christ and the unity and harmony Jesus commands His followers to protect, it’s actually slander, and as such is a prosecutable offense and, finally, it’s the ultimate cowardly act.



Case closed.



But Joe still had some questions.



Anyone ever threaten you with this?”



“Dozens of times,” I told him.






“I guess the post office lost them.”



He laughed.



“Actually,” I continued, “I’ve had some go to a few folks.”



He looked horrified.



“What happened?!”



The people of Southbrook—especially the leadership, rallied behind me and the vision God his given us more than ever.



Joe decided to give it to God.



A month and a half ago!


Today he’s doing better than ever and can hardly imagine why he ever gave it a moment’s thought.