We all have been in a church or a group somewhere and there are certain people in that group that have certain reputations. That person is a gossip, that person is a prude, that person is nasty acting, that person is a people pleaser, that person has no tact and blurts our whatever they want, etc...and sadly when it comes to churches some of those reputations are what is keeping or driving people away.
During my years of working in churches, I have seen more than my share of people with bad reputations in the church and been told that they were the reason some people no longer attended our church, or they were the reason no one wants to come to ladies group, or they are the reason no one comes to that sunday school class, or they are the reason no one wants to serve on the board. Those are not good qualities or reputations to have in the Lord's Church, His body.
Sadly, most churches and people continue to allow these negative, harmful people to infect the body of Christ and continue to run people off or away or ruin what otherwise could be a great ministry in the church. The saddest part is the people we are talking about are either not aware of their behavior or attitudes because they've been acting that way for so long and no one confronts them or stands up to them or lovingly corrects them or they simply don't care.
We are too easy in our society to dismiss and enable others negative behaviors because we want to keep the peace or not make them mad, but in reality what is doing more damage to the church you ignoring their behavior so they continue to run people off or away and hurt the church or the churches ministries they are a part of or you worrying about them getting mad?
First of all, if you're the person with a bad reputation I'm talking about, I want to challenge you be self aware of our actions and attitudes and make an honest effort to change, mature, and grow. Don't make excuses for yourself. If you're rude, be respectful! If your a loud mouth, be quiet! If your gruff, be nicer! If you tend to gossip, stop it! If you're a people pleaser, get tough! If you're a negative nelly, be positive! Stop saying your too old, or been that way too long, or whatever excuses you make and straighten up. It's bigger than just you, you represent God and His Church and He needs folks who are loving, caring, and have good reputations, Godly reputations to be attracting people to His church and to the ministries your church may offer not running people off or away. Do you ever stop to think that you might be running people off with your personality or demeanor? It's not too late to change
Secondly, if you have people like this in your church or ministries, as uncomfortable as it may be at the thought of confronting them, you also may need to look at the larger picture and realize if you or others don't stand up to them, confront them, or correct them they might unintentional or not, be destroying the work of God in your church or particular ministry because of their sour, negative, or hateful attitude. It is something to think about. I think we have an obligation in scripture to confront people in love and if that doesn't work take it to your church leadership, but do not ignore people like that or they are like a cancer that will affect your group, class, or ministry and really bring down the atmosphere, attendance, and morale of your group.
The truth is whatever we do as a church is supposed to be for God, His Worship, His Glory, and His Honor. It's not about us, and as Christians we want to represent God and His church well both in church circles and out in the world. Do you personally want to be the reason someone doesn't come to church or go to church anymore because you were rude or obnoxious? Do you want to be the reason no one comes to Sunday School because you dominate the class? Do you want to be the reason no one comes to ladies circle, men's meeting, or youth group because your like fingernails on a chalkboard?
We truly need to think about our reputation and our character and how others see us and more importantly how God sees us? Are we representing Him well? Are we helping or hurting His church? Sadly, there are way too many of us who say we know a person or persons at our church that are like this and even sadder is some people reading this might be that person and not even know they have that bad of a reputation. The key for us all is to strive to be like Christ and be the best representative of Him we can be everywhere we go and at all times. To be self-aware of how people see us and our reputation and also encourage and correct in love others if we feel they are hurting or hindering God's work in our church or church groups.
Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise.
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.