dana-carvey-snlWhat’s the difference between biting sheep and a legitimate complaint?

I’ve been asked this question many times. Godly members who love their church and don’t want to cause any dissension often don’t know what to do.

When I use the phrase, “biting sheep,” I’m not referring to truthful complaints from honest church people, but to dishonest or inappropriate speech or actions. Good people are afraid of being labeled either a clergy killer or antagonist that they end up being manipulated by an abusive, controlling pastor. We have plenty of bad leaders in the church who should be held accountable for their actions.

“Biting sheep” are those who undermine their leaders simply because they don’t like them, or their message, personality, style of leadership, or something else, and they’re willing to go to any lengths to oppose or remove them.

Biting sheep are those church members who discard all the biblical guidelines for dealing with conflict or differences and move full steam ahead with their own grievances, come what may. They have no boundaries or sense of fairness in putting forward their complaints, and even stalk the pastor for years after their leader’s departure from the church. They’re prepared to use any means to get their way, including slander, libel, manipulation, defamation, and innuendo.

Despite the level of pettiness, duplicity, and generally discouraging—even disordered—behavior on the part of some church members, it shouldn‘t turn us away from the hope that lies at the heart of the church’s life. Criticism of the church or public exposure of its internal corruptions is most authentic and constructive when offered by those who love and believe in it. This is important for the healthy growth and functioning of the church. For what is of ultimate concern is the survival of the witness of Jesus Christ through his body.