My father, Dr. Bill Cooke (above) was a mainline denominational pastor, and during the late 60’s and early 70’s he started exploring the Charismatic renewal. As a result, he began teaching on the Holy Spirit, and our church really started growing. There was an explosion of interest in that subject at the time and people started coming from everywhere. But there was one problem: My dad had a church elder who didn’t like it. So this elder began working behind the scenes, and although my dad realized it pretty quickly, he didn’t take it seriously. After all, it was just one elder, right?
But this elder was persistent (some might say cunning,) and over the course of a year, he created enough momentum against my dad’s teaching that my dad was fired. My freshman year in college, the first phone call I received from my parents was to tell me that they’d been let go from the church. Since that time, I’ve seen far too many similar situations. Sometimes it’s a theological conflict, other times it’s a administrative issue, problem staff member, or a challenge to a pastor’s leadership style. And in case after case, too many pastors do the same thing as my dad – ignore it until it’s too late.
No matter how small, when a crisis starts brewing in a church, when’s the best time to intervene?
Now. At that moment. And quickly.
A crisis has a way of escalating. Momentum happens, and before long, people you’d never think would side with the opposition do exactly that. In many cases, your adversary is strategic, is a good negotiator, and understands how to sway people’s thinking.
So don’t take anything for granted. As soon as you see, hear, or smell something going south, step in. The earlier you intervene, the easier to change perceptions and correct errors. Plus, the less direct you’ll have to be.
Have you experienced a crisis where the leader waited too late to intervene?