Commentary by Bishop William Nicholson, Senior Pastor, Anchorage Moravian Church

President & Administrator, United International Moravian Ministry Group

Co-Chair & Administrator, World Fellowship Moravian Revival Churches

Many Moravian Church seats remain empty because of gossip, rumor and lies.  If one leaves their local Church and their commitment to their spiritual covering, I believe it is a sin.  It is a sin because one is leaving submission to their spiritual authority.  The spiritual authority of your church or ministry group is a covering.  So too, before we preach or teach, there should be someone that we are under submission to.  This person or organization serves as an umbrella, therefore it is a covering to protect us if there are problems or questions.

If someone preaches at your church without a covering, I think we may be on shaky ground.  Ministry isn’t for Lone Rangers. I was practically called to ministry from the time I got saved, but I largely put my ministry work on hold until God more formally put me to work where I serve in my church.  You want the training, credentials, encouragement, and accountability of at least a local church to uphold you in the work of the ministry. Ministers aren’t those who went, but those who are sent.

Pastor Robert Monette, United Moravian Ministry Group National Outreach Director, says, which I appreciate:  “God is organized.  That is proven in His Word how He created angels with rank and position; this also suggests accountability.  Because this world lives by fleshly standards, it is falling apart and will be brought down by sin.  But we as blood bought believers have been called to live Kingdom minded.” 

Our Moravian Heritage Churches under United International Moravian Ministry have coverings they are under authority to.  The Bible is very clear that every Church has a leadership (Elder, Pastor, Bishop), which is our covering. They have spiritual authority in the Church. We are to be subject to them. Here are a few of the bible verses used to confirm this:

Hebrews 13:17:  “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”

Ephesians 4:11-12:  “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”

1 Samuel 15:22-23:  “… Behold, to obey is better than sacrificeand to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry…”

Certainly as long as your covering follows God’s Word it has authority, which should be obeyed.  Please remember that a covering protects a believer or a preacher.   We all need a Shepherd, who takes care of the sheep.  We are God’s sheep.  Psalms 23:1 says, the Lord is my Shepherd.  Your spiritual leaders are under Shepherds, but we must assure we always listen to the voice and follow the true Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

As we approach the soon return of our Savior Jesus Christ, Paul speaks about the “falling away” of the Church.  The devil will do everything to weaken the Church, especially since it is God’s Will to make the Moravian Revival Churches a powerful tool of revival and building the Kingdom of God.  It is my prayer that you will not leave your local church and remain committed to your covering!  As true Moravian heritage people we must remain committed to each other, in unity and in love, and to edify one another rather than divide each other.

Most of our Moravian Church leaders want to build communities that last, with members that stick with them through thick and thin. Without commitment and consistency from members, the church remains more of an event or activity than an actual community or family of God.

While visitors may come and go and even the most devoted members may eventually be called elsewhere, churches can only thrive when there’s a sense of long-term commitment (like most of life’s most important relationships).   Too often, church leaders know the pain of seeing members come and go.  They also know the joy of watching members grow with one another in one-another relationships, experience lasting transformation, overcome conflict and trials, and build deeply rooted communities that invite others into knowing Jesus.

Like I said earlier, without commitment and consistency from members, the church remains more of an event or activity than an actual community. While there’s certainly good that comes from any organization that worships God and loves people, a church without consistent attendance and Unity will be limited in its ability to help people grow.

My concern is that if you have left your local Church, please come back, especially if you left because of gossip or slander or lies.  Gossip is a sin and listening to gossip becomes a sin for you if you allow it to take away your commitment to the Church the Holy Spirit has counselled you to be part of.  Remember that the Word of God speaks strongly against gossip in Romans 1:29 and 2 Corinthians 12:20.  Romans 1:29 says, “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers.”  2 Corinthians 12:20 says, “For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:”  These sins are condemned and is the result of a depraved mind, unfitting for Christians.

If one gossips, commits slander, or tells a lie about someone in the Church, and causes someone to leave the Church covering and commitments, it sounds like it is someone going against the 8th Commandment – “thou shalt not steal”.  Yes, “Thou shalt not steal” speaks against taking someone’s property, but it also means if we willfully stop a brother’s success, to stop him from growing in the faith, to restrict his development, or to take advantage of his circumstances in any way which is the opposite of Godly love.

Please remember, people sin against the truth when they are guilty of ruining the reputation of another by telling lies, when they practice rash judgment, or when they engage in detraction.  Detraction may be a new term for many of you, but this means the unjust telling of someone’s faults.  Another way of looking at detraction is that it is tells others, disclosing without an objectively valid reason, another’s faults and failings to persons who do not know them.

Last thing, I would like to say is that if you hear a rumor, lie, slander or gossip in the local church don’t leave your Church covering.  Before you leave speak with the pastor or an elders, first.  They will disclose truth.  Don’t allow yourself to be a participant in an activity that violates the reputation of another believer in Christ or credibility of the local Church.

And remember what Pastor Robert Monette has shared, “God will have a Remnant in the middle of this dark decaying world and we will live and prove the love and power of an Almighty God, the Creator of all things”.

Posted in AncMC News, Bishops Blog.