If there is one thing I hate and I have to believe that Jesus hates as well is dirty politics in the church. Dirty politics where people with a hidden agenda use underhanded tactics including rumors, lies, gossip and manipulation of the church constitution at times to get what they want. One only has to read the book of Ephesians to know that there is nothing spiritual, God like or righteous in using unrighteous means to achieve one's will.
I was the victim of dirty politics in a church I served. I know how it felt and for years afterwards there were people who spread lies about me and my ministry. Their politics split the church. Unfortunately it is no unusual.
Here are some of the common characteristics of dirty politics.
First, there is a hidden agenda behind the scenes which is not stated because they know they would be discredited if it was. They have the conversations behind closed doors with those they are in alignment with but are never upfront about what they think or intend to do. It may be to derail the leadership direction of the leaders or be as blatant as forcing a pastor out.
Second, there are unrighteous things said. By unrighteous I mean falsehoods, rumors and outright lies. Information is passed along which is damaging to others that has never been verified. Think of how often God says in the Scriptures that he hates falsehood. When this is present, evil is present.
Third, while they may use spiritual language the real issue is power. If it was about ministry they would be willing to state their position publicly so everyone knows. Anyone who does not do that is playing power politics with a hidden agenda and that is almost always about power, not true concern for the church nor concern for truth.
Fourth, these are people who are arsonists. They light fires with gossip and lies and then are not to be found when someone tries to figure out where they came from. In other words they refuse to be accountable for their words or actions which is power and unrighteousness combined.
How do you know when this is taking place in your church? When there is gossip going around about leadership. When there are power plays in meetings. When common language is used which clearly indicates that there is a faction talking. When the issues are not clearly stated up front. When conflict starts to erode the congregation. When you start to hear common language from diverse people.
One of the best ways to counteract this is simply to tell the congregation what is taking place, what is being said and simply ask them if that is what they want. Chances are the perpetrators will run for the hills because they don't want a public debate. If they thought they would win that way they would do it. Rather they are using underhanded means because they know that the bulk of the congregation would not be in agreement with. It is unrighteous and cowardly behavior. We see it all the time in politics but it has no place in the church.
Be smart, be truthful, be wise but don't let those who play by dirty politics to determine the direction of the church. In almost every instance where they succeed the church loses. Why should we be surprised? There is nothing righteous about their behavior!
See also Hearing the voice behind the voices.