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Home > 2014 > January > The Widowmaker Repents

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"We are resolved to put these patterns of behavior behind us, and become the unified body of believers that Christ anticipated when he prayed in John 17:23 ' … that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me.'"

"I hope this can be a model for others," Joudry said to me on the phone. "Each church has its story, has its 'stuff.' Our job is to face it. Face our junk. Face that elephant in the sanctuary that nobody talks about. Face it, stare it down, cry over it. Work through it. And when it's been wrestled to the ground, to get up and begin to look forward.

"It's dumb to act like we have no problems. And it's just as bad to take half measures. You can't fix congestive heart failure with band-aids. You have to dig down, dig right to the cause, look at ourselves."

Facing the problem has been messy and painful, and still is. Conflict always comes with aftershocks, with sad "what-if"s, with a sense of lost time, lost love, lost opportunities. But in the water and tears of an odd church service last year, many wounds were washed as one congregation faced their stuff and saw light on the other side.

A church repented for old sins. Reconciliation began. Something beautiful happened by the river in Madison.

Paul Pastor is associate editor of Leadership Journal.

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Paul J. Pastor is associate editor of Leadership Journal.

From Issue:Ministry Health, January 2014 | Posted: January 1, 2014

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Displaying 5–9 of 15 comments

Mark

January 30, 2014  12:06pm

Where was Jesus the whole time in this church?

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Doug Tegner

January 24, 2014  9:56pm

Thank you for the article and example set by Pastor Jourdry. We had a similar situation to work through in 2006 and by God's grace we have experienced redemption, renewal, restoration and re-direction. I have been serving as Sr Pastor since that time and can attest to the vitality and ongoing repentance our church family is experiencing. We lost 1/2 of our congregation before our Solemn Assembly and restoration (of a former pastor) service. Yet, I too, even now, 7 years after the fact, experience bouts of depression, discouragement and anxiety with the leftover "losses" our congregation continues to be reminded of. (ie. 600 of our once-1200 member congregation, departed "for good"). Here is the article from Leadership Journal that expresses our testimony to God's redemptive work for this "repenting church". http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2010/spring/repentingchurch.html Tha nk you for stepping out in obedience to the Lord and for standing up to "ram" sheep who destroy His flock.

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Matt G.

January 23, 2014  12:24pm

As a former minister in the AoG, I observed situations similar to this—albeit not as extreme. The pastor is a hireling who maintains his employment at the pleasure of a few powerful people in the church. I often wonder whether the prevalence of such conflicts can be at least partly attributed to the congregational polity of church government that most AoG churches practice. Those that don't typically follow the popular CEO-style of ecclesiology, with a single visionary pastor/leader/executive who casts vision, recruits staff and leads with a high level of autonomy. As long as the church is financially and numerically healthy, that model seems to work—until the pastor retires or leaves and leadership is passed to someone with less charisma or new ideas that the congregation doesn't like. What I didn't observe a lot of in my AoG days was the plurality of co-equal elder leadership, composed of both vocational and non-vocational pastors who possess the biblical qualifications in 1 Tim. 3.

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David Grams

January 23, 2014  8:40am

Powerful story. Powerful comments! I would only answer one of the comment's by intoning that when a corporate body "repents for all", then "all" who remain in that body are blessed, whether or not the antagonists are involved. That's the beauty of Biblical repentance! And that is why this church as a congregation is being so mightily blessed! There is much precedent for this in Scripture, but will wrap it up for now by reminding us all yet again that the faithfulness of a few always results in great benefits for the many!

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Steve Henderson

January 23, 2014  3:54am

Fine story, but I'm sensing a disconnect here. The subtitle reads, "After decades of dysfunction, one church publicly confessed its mistreatment of former ministers." But: what of those who were responsible for the mistreatment, or of their interest in reconciliation? Can one confess another's sins by proxy? The pastor who stood firm and endured has led that church’s members to express empathy to those who had been hurt by others in the past. But they cannot accept responsibility for sins the other group has committed. I'm glad that the remaining people are enjoying God's grace in putting their lives together, and that they took the step of inviting and restoring connection with previous pastors. Yet I felt disappointed: I had hoped that there might be a story involving the repentance of those who had done the deeds. I'm rejoicing in this restored health, yet I'm longing to see more. Our God is able, and may yet give the gift of repentance even to not-so-well-intentioned dragons.

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