The world of email, blogs, and other electronic forums have complicated and magnified the potential for rumor, insinuation, and false reports. Sometimes church leaders get drawn into wars of online words, and before they know it, they've inadvertently done more harm than good.
One of the most dramatic cases of this began with a negative Google review of a church in the Pacific Northwest. A former member of that church posted:
"Although this church touts itself 'Garringberg Grace Community,' I found very little 'grace' there. This is a legalistic church where if you don't do things their way (the 'only' way), you will have challenges. Garringberg Grace shuns former members/attendees without giving an explanation. You will be fine in this church if you never question the elders or pastor. If you do not believe, worship, and evangelize 'their way,' they will let you know you are not a true Christian. Be wary of churches that proclaim they are one of the few remaining churches that preach the Word. Do not be deceived."
Other church members tried to rebut the negative Google reviews with positive reviews. One example: "Many churches today are entertaining goats instead of feeding sheep. Churches should be preaching repentance and faith (Acts 20:21). Garringberg Grace holds fast the faithful Word, that we may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict (Titus 1:9). Our pastor preaches the gospel and faithfully upholds the Word of God. My wife and I have been blessed by over ten years of his preaching and guidance. Our salvation is nearer than when we first believed (Rom. 13:11)."
As often happens in open online forums, the vocabulary got nastier ...