There are a lot of reasons local churches fail to grow and always seem to be stuck in a never-ending rut. Could one of those reasons be the toleration of bad, immature, and sinful behavior?
On August 12th of this year Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano had another one of his infamous meltdown temper-tantrums after giving five home-runs to the Atlanta Braves. After being ejected from the game for twice trying to intentionally beam the Braves third-basemen Chipper Jones with the baseball, Zambrano committed what is tantamount to treason in baseball and walked out on his team saying, in the irrationality of his anger, that he was retiring.
Sadly, this is not the first incidence involving bad behavior for Zambrano. Even more depressing as a die-hard Cubs fan, Zambrano is not the only Cubs player in recent history to exhibit poor behavior. Remember Milton Bradley, Sammy Sosa?
As an ardent Cubs fan, I have kept up with all of the editorials emanating from the Chicagoland sports on this issue. One of the more intriguing questions I heard being raised was the correlation between the toleration of bad behavior and organization dysfunction. Could it be that one of the reasons the Cubs have failed to win a World Series for a now ridiculous 103 years is due in part to the toleration of bad behavior by its employees (that’s right, baseball players are still employees of the organization)?
Well, there are certainly many reasons for the Cubs failure to win a world series in the last 103 years. But it certainly seems probable that the recent history of tolerating bad behavior by its players (and we only know of what happens in public) is one reason–and possibly a large reason–for their failures. It’s very safe to assume that some of Major League Baseball’s more successful franchises in the winning column of the last twenty or so years (Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals) would not be so tolerant of players acting badly on the field or off the field, in public or behind closed doors.
That got me thinking about the Churches and bad behavior. I’ve been a member of a few different churches throughout my life time. Some of them were very healthy and focused on mission. Some of them were not. As I said before, I think there are numerous reasons that could explain the later. Yet we all here of churches where bad, immature, and sinful behaviors are tolerated for a variety of reasons. It could be some abhorrent sin that everyone chooses to turn a “blind eye” on, gossip that is accepted as just good “church business” talk, passive aggressive behaviors that are just resigned to as “typical”, and so forth. Whatever the case, could it just be that such toleration has stymied churches from being successful…that is, from being a growing organism fully engaged in the mission of God?