Who is responsible?

I have been talking to a number of people recently about faith matters, and have realised that I think that their faith development is their responsibility.  That may or may not appear obvious to you, but it strikes me that many clergy think that it is their responsibility.

In one instance we were talking about a church where the pastor was fed up with people coming late to the service so he ordered that the doors be locked, and latecomers not admitted (don’t worry St Mark’s – we aren’t going to do it); in a number of cases, someone was excluded for their behaviour.

My take on this is that they are responsible for their own behaviour (as are the others in the congregation, just in case these things are done “to encourage the others“), although I have a responsibility to walk alongside them (fellow pilgrims on the way) offering help and guidance and sharing where I am.

I expressed this to someone and they challenged me with Paul’s discipline of wayward Christians in his letters.  However, at least some of these were issues to do with community, and the breaking of it, rather than individual behaviour.

Yes, the incumbent is responsible for the cure of souls, but how to do it?  If you exclude someone from the congregation your chances of influencing them in any way are surely gone!

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