Watch Out That No One Deceives You
Milestone | Leadership
This letter is being penned by the Toronto Church of Christ Leadership to address the periodic rumours and unhealthy conversations that surface from time to time, from outside our local church.
There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil,19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. (Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV)
Who is doing this?
The most honest and direct answer to this question is that the lies and gossip come from some men who used to lead in various capacities in Toronto, but no longer have the role or responsibility to do so outside their own context. While these persons may have previous working history and relationships here, they have neither the authority nor an up-to-date context to form such opinions. Instead of using their connections to support the Lord’s work verbally and in prayer, they have often done the opposite — maligning, criticizing, fault-finding and stirring up dissension in the body. It is time for this behaviour to cease. Silence can sometimes be true wisdom’s best reply, but we recognize that the silence with which the Toronto Leadership has answered our critics is being misinterpreted as culpability in the face of the accusations, or otherwise an insinuation of guilt.
Why this method of addressing?
We grow weary of answering the same questions formed out of half truths and falsehoods. Every effort has been made to speak to known individuals directly for years, and most recently we have pleaded for respect — if not for our leadership, then for God’s Word in matters of peace, love and biblical unity. Unfortunately, in these instances, relational bonds and loyalty to friendships seem to supersede the scriptural call to reject gossip and slander.
What is the main issue?
Our critics view the espousal of similar methodology as the primary path to achieve unity. We as a leadership wholeheartedly disagree. We do not believe we are best unified by church programs or practices, but rather, by our bonds of love, held together by the blood of Christ. If we choose to have ministry initiatives for our members that differ from those in another country, we do not view those as salvific or gospel essentials. We believe each church needs to decide which direction and extra-curricular practices it will offer to its own members, and broader community, with them foremost in mind— not by a declaration originating in another congregation.
How would you like to proceed in the future?
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)
We are humbly requesting that anyone who hears gossip, slander or maligning of the Toronto Church Leadership, to simply stop and ask yourself the question: “Is this wholesome talk?”
We are not asking for you to agree with our methodology. In fact, we would even defend your right to disagree, but we are asking for your respect first for God, and then for us. We are a relatively large church with a growing eldership; it is long past time for maturity to guide us. Despite what our critics have insinuated, we have not left the ICOC and to the best of our knowledge, the ICOC has not left us. Our leadership and member disciples continue to support foreign missions initiatives, Disciples Today, attend conferences at every level of leadership, and are involved on committees, service teams, etc. Disciples in our ministry are living sacrificial lives for Jesus every day.
We sincerely pray this article will be received in the spirit it was written. We love our brothers and sisters and have long since forgiven any transgression. We ask simply that all Christians turn their attention from ungodly conversation to loving God with all heart, mind, soul and strength and neighbours as themselves. In His name, we desire to see many more souls won to Christ, and for His sake, we will grow with, learn from, and partner with anyone who will lift up the name of Jesus over everything else — including the appeal or popularity of a static, pre-determined structure or antecedent ideology. Our Lord above all!
With love, Elders & Evangelists, Toronto Church of Christ