Recently I’ve been working on my lawn. I live in the country and work on a limited budget. When we moved here my wife and I sowed several patches of bermuda grass and let nature do the rest. But as time passed, weeds also began to grow and so, using a small garden sprayer and over the counter chemicals, I try to kill the weeds for the benefit of the good grass. Here are a few lessons to learn about weeding out the church.

1. The Weeds Come Up Even Though You Didn’t Plant Them. By weeds I am of course referring to people who need discipline in your congregation. These folks come whether you invite them or not. You will have planted perfectly good seed and watched with joy as it came up. And then boom…out of nowhere the trouble makers show up. You can kid yourself all day but rest assured, you WILL deal with this issue sooner or later.

2. Left Unchecked the Weeds Will Hurt the Good Grass. Last year was tight money wise. As a result I skipped my annual spraying and you could tell the difference this season. There were places in my yard that were almost completely taken over by the weeds. Other places that didn’t have hardly any now had some. Many church leaders turn their heads away in hopes that the problems will just disappear. But that just doesn’t happen and if you set idly by the whole congregation will be affected.

3. You Need to Choose the Right Way to Handle the Problem. There is no one right way to handle all situations (sorry about that for you who were reading to find the magic formula). For weeds in our flower beds the best approach is to carefully dig them up with a spade. For my yard a hand held garden sprayer with mild chemicals works. For the big lot next door a tractor with a large spray rig is called for. And for the ditches a powerful chemical that kills just about everything is needed.

The same principle must be applied to dealing with trouble makers—there is no one size fits all method for dealing with them. Of course you should always follow the pattern of Matthew 18:15-17. But beyond that you have decisions to make: do they need a strong word or a mild rebuke? Will digging one at a time work or do you need a more blanket approach?

4. The Word of God is the Tool. No matter how you go about it, the Bible is what you use to correct folks. Whether it be a quick single word (the spade), a broader easy touch (the mild chemicals), or a strong approach (the powerful chemicals),it is God’s word that has the power to change hearts. It would by silly for me to turn on the sprinkler hoping to get rid of my weeds. You are wasting your time using anything but the Bible to tackle church problems.

5. The Good Grass and the Bare Ground Will Also Get Some Treatment. I can’t spray my weeds without spraying the bermuda too. When you address the problems it will also affect the folks you are nurturing in the word. But this is actually good for them and will help them grow stronger over time. And as you spray, some falls on places that are nothing but dirt. Jesus said the seed sometimes falls on hard soil and bears no fruit. You can’t worry about that if you want the good grass cared for.

Dealing with problem folks in the church is never easy. But if you’ll do the work you’ll find the results are worth the effort.