Imagine that your car is in desperate need of repair. Although you don't know how to fix or diagnose the problem, you know something is wrong. So you take it to a mechanic. After several hours, the mechanic comes out with your bill. You notice that you're only being charged for labor. Assuming that the mechanic is giving you a sweet deal, you thank him for not charging for parts. The mechanic smiles and says, "There wasn't a fee for parts because I didn't fix your car. Honestly, I don't really know much about repairing cars. I'm just charging you for my time."
If this really happened, you would be confused and irate. Who could blame you? Mechanics are supposed to know how to fix cars. You probably wouldn't pay the bill or go back with future problems.
I think we can be like that mechanic at times. As Christians, we're supposed to be experts in dealing with sin. After all, we've been forgiven by Jesus and are expected to extend forgiveness to others. So people expect us to know what we're doing. Although we may be comfortable addressing our own sins, we often struggle in our ability to address other peoples' sins, especially when it involves a leader. Instead of biblically addressing the sin, we can downplay it, sidestep it, gossip about it, or even exaggerate the details.
As someone who oversees small-group leaders, though, you must be able to talk with leaders dealing with sin issues. This can be one of the most difficult conversations you experience in ministry. More than likely, you weren't even trained for it. So what do you say to a leader struggling in sin? Where do you start? This article will equip you with a biblical plan. Use the following 10 steps for guidance.
1. See the person as family.
You must have the ability to mentally remove titles when approaching an issue of sin. It's easy for us to complicate things by treating the sins of leaders by focusing on the higher standard to which we hold leaders. Or we can focus too much on our authority and role. Look through the leader's title, though, and focus on the person, and put yourself on equal ground. According to Scripture, every Christian is a part of God's Family. That makes us brothers and sisters, regardless of our title or leadership role. Treat the person as a spiritual sibling.
2. Meet face to face.
We live in a world with a lot of options for communication. Social media, e-mail, and text messaging make it easy to get information to people quickly. It may be tempting to use these methods of communication for addressing a leader's sin, but it's not wise. Although it's appropriate to use these tools for scheduling a meeting, encouraging a leader, or touching base, discussing sin issues is best done in person. It's far too easy to misunderstand or misread emotions when we read an e-mail or Facebook message. You may misunderstand the leader, and there's a good chance he or she will misunderstand you. This can be especially unhelpful if you communicate online first and then plan to meet face to face. Most likely, there will be additional frustration at the meeting if you go that route.
3. Meet one-on-one.
Matthew 18:15 says, "If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over." The principle in this verse is to meet with the person in confidence. By doing so, the leader will feel less embarrassed, and you set the tone for trust.