The Fine Line
Every Christian is to have a conscience singularly informed by the Word of God, but it is utterly indispensable for the minister of the gospel. Ministers are called to take a stand for truth before those who oppose the Word of God in the world; but they also face the unique challenge of taking a stand for truth before those who oppose biblical teaching within the church. In a day of widespread individualism, heightened biblical illiteracy, and diminishing respect for gospel ministry, ministers are faced with the daunting task of taking a firm but loving stand in matters of faith and practice.
The fiercest opposition in the church frequently arises from those whose consciences have been least informed by the Word of God. Often well meaning in their sentiments, such individuals unintentionally cause much harm to the work of the church. Such opposition is amplified in an atmosphere where the Word of God is taught with authority and precision. While similar challenges surface in all genuine gospel ministries, they are more likely to arise in new or smaller churches. In a small church, there is more opportunity to express opinions. In a church plant, opinions are more regularly asked for and welcomed. Individuals who are hesitant to voice discontentment in larger and more established churches sometimes assume that their voices will be heard in smaller settings. What are ministers to do when confronted with such challenges? How are they to deal with complaints that stem from the weak consciences of parishioners in matters of faith and life? What steps can be taken to protect a new church from suffering the irreparable damage of being ruled by the consciences of weaker parishioners?