The fifteen case studies referenced in Facing the Messy Stuff in the Church are absolutely overwhelming. In general, the seeming disconnectedness of the various church antagonists identified from revealed Scripture, not to mention the prevailing inability of the various churches to respond appropriately is unthinkable. In some instances, I found myself emotionally and physically shaken at the chronic abuse permitted, or at minimum enabled under the steeple of the church. It is difficult to believe that those called of God would even attempt to minister under such conditions for extended periods of time. In general, I sense this as somewhat symptomatic of latent apathy and disregard on the part of many numbered among church leadership. Unfortunately, the church leadership is often vulnerable in many instances where we find those with a social-club mentality who clearly are less than diligent about the integrity of our Lord's work in the local church. Mutual accountability in the give-and-take of ministry in a local context is patently absent. Much needed resolution and reconciliation in these matters should be properly motivated and pursued by those jealous for the unity and sacredness of the work at hand.
The repetitive instances observed throughout the interviews contained throughout this reading are to some degree proof-positive of a systemic lack of self-awareness within the ranks of ministry as well as scant measures of accountability to safeguard the work of the church. A frequent post-failure remark is, "we didn't really know our pastor." The discovery is often the result of a cognitive bias commonly exercised when one's judgments of a person's character is influenced by one's overall impression of him or her, regardless of their "true" identity. This is recognized outside of the context of church ministry as the "halo effect," or "halo error." This also ventures into the subject matter of cognitive dissonance where "being" or professed values, are not in proper alignment with "doing" or expressed values. In too many instances, the antagonist is permitted to live in isolation with little or no accountability whatsoever, other than presenting a particular text on a regular basis. This is further complicated when the glory of God is frequently compromised in order to preserve the glory of men. The social-standing of the church within the community is often given priority, rather than safeguarding the name of Christ.
To further complicate matters, the church uniformly accepts the Matthew 18:15 in principle but poorly understands and therefore improperly executes this in the "real world." Eswine, in Sensing Jesus suggests, "Our spiritual inability to remain with a people in a place as a family through thick and thin when not everything is how we prefer it or want it becomes apparent. We do not believe we need to stay in a place in which our feelings and needs are incompletely met." In far too many of these accounts, the sanctification process in which we are all currently involved was not allowed to come to completion. The unresolved problem simply took another address with different unsuspecting actors.
I am increasingly concerned that the behavior identified in this book is running unchecked through the universal church. I am convinced this will only be properly addressed when those in leadership deliberately and strategically choose to initiate careful measures to develop healthy steps of personal accountability within the role of those called to shepherd. This can only be accomplished through loving community who together rally with the mutual goal of glorifying God with our lives through a visibly healthy work and testimony of the local church. The case-studies clearly validate that "preachers are people too - only more so!"