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If I am an Associate Minister, do I approach someone who I know is sinning (sexual sin) and still holding a position in the church and counsel with him to repent unto God for restoration? Can couples living together, not married, hold positions in the church?
Your first response depends upon how many people know about the sin. Are you the only one? If so, then follow Matthew 18:15-17. "15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother." 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." Even if the man repents after the first step (verse 15), you are still going to have to take him to the pastor and have him confess his sin. The reason is that he is presently holding a position in the church. The pastor is the one who is overseeing the work of that local congregation. Hebrews 13:7 says, "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation." Hebrews 13:17 says, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." Whenever anyone holds a position in the church, the pastor is his earthly leader. Just like if an employee was caught embezzling funds out of a company, and repented, the boss would still need to be made aware of the sin, because he is responsible for the well-being of the company. The boss would no doubt remove such an one from handling the companies' money. Normally, a pastor would want to remove such a person (as you have described) from holding any positions in the church for a period of years, to see if the person truly was repentant. It is critical that a pastor be made aware of people who commit immoral sins, because those people should never be placed in positions dealing with children.
The first response should be different if the sin by this person is well-known in the church; but this response should be carried out by the senior pastor, not by you as an associate. A meeting of the church members should be called and the person immediately removed from the membership. 1 Corinthians 5:1-7 says, "1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:" If the sin is well-known, the action should be swift and absolute. If the person later repents and proves it by a changed life, then that person may be accepted back into the membership after some time, like the person mentioned in the Scripture above was later received back. 2 Corinthians 2:4-11 says, "4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. 5 But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. 6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. 7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. 8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. 9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. 10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; 11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices."
If sin is overlooked, the Bible says that it will spread like leaven in the congregation. The goal is always repentance and restoration. Satan tries to get Christians to fall into sin. Then, if the person repents, Satan tries to get Christians to not forgive the erring brother.
Your second question, "Can couples living together, not married, hold positions in the church?" Hebrews 13:4 says, "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." Unmarried couples that are living together should not only be removed from their positions of leadership in the church, but they should also be immediately removed from the membership of the church as well. The situations described in Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 5 are written in regard to all church members.
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