I was once asked to be on a small committee (two ministers, two elders and the convener) to have talks with a particular minister whose congregation and office- bearers had fallen out of love with him.
He was always right and they (particularly his elders) were wrong.
One bone of contention was that he would ignore members of his church and pass them in the street without acknowledging them. Same if he met them in one of the local shops or supermarket or post office.
Another problem was his refusal to allow the spouse of a church member to stand with his/her wife/husband at a baptism service. Only the member was there by the font, while her/his partner was banished to the pews. The non member, in other words, was not allowed to make the baptismal promises with his/her partner.
This, of course, led to murmurs of discontent and rebellion amongst the good folks of that congregation.
So, it’s Showtime or Showdown time with meeting number one – the little committee, the elders and the Reverend Superior.
Our convener went for the gentle approach, explaining that we weren’t there with them to take sides or to be judgmental; rather, to help, guide and support and to find some resolution.
After this introduction, she said something along the lines of “Now what would solve this situation?”
An old Elder creakingly got to his feet, looked long and hard at his Minister, pointed to the latter and in a voice full of emotion: “Get rid of HIM!!!! ”
Thereafter, it was chaotic, with accusations flying backwards and forwards, the convener in tears at one point and nobody willing to budge an inch.
What was it that Gandhi said: “I like your Christ but not your Christians”
Yup, now let’s all join in singing “bind us together” followed by “they’ll know we’re Christians by our love”
He left about a year later