John Hopler is director of Great Commission Churches in Columbus, Ohio. In 1973, he became a follower of Jesus Christ while attending Ohio State University. Hopler became a pastor in 1979, and since 1986, he has focused on the multiplication of pastors and churches in Great Commission Churches.
1. We aspire to have a genuine love and concern for both the one being criticized and the one making the criticism.
As followers of Christ, we are called to live by one rule: Love one another (John 13:34). Jesus calls us to be humble, to be merciful, and to be peacemakers wherever possible (Matthew 5:5-9).
Therefore, whether criticisms on the internet are fair or unfair, we humbly seek God’s blessing on both the person making the criticism and the individual being criticized.
2. We are skeptical of negative characterizations of fellow Christians made on the internet.
We who believe in Jesus Christ are sinners, saved by grace (Ephesians 2:1-8), made complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10) and destined for glory (Romans 8:30). If God so loved and honored us, then we are to love fellow Christians by protecting their honor (John 13:34; Romans 12:10). As a member of the National Association of Evangelicals, Great Commission Churches puts a high value on Christian unity and honoring other believers in Jesus Christ.
Therefore, because we want to protect the honor of God’s church, GCC’s policy is to question negative internet characterizations of other Christians — within GCC or outside of GCC. In particular, we are skeptical of criticisms made by anonymous bloggers because the validity of their claims cannot be adequately tested.
3. We do not think that using the internet is God’s way for resolving personal concerns.
If someone has a concern with a person (or church), God instructs us to talk to the person (or pastor) privately. This is best done via phone or face-to-face, not through the internet. If not satisfied, the next step is to pursue an honoring appeal process until the concern is resolved (Matthew 18:15-17).
Therefore, GCC’s policy is to not participate in blogs in which people make posts critical of a GCC pastor or GCC member church. Instead, we invite anyone with a concern to talk to the pastor, and then, if the issue is not resolved, appeal to his board and then to GCC. We promise to listen with sympathy and humility, and to do all we can to bring about a peaceful resolution that would honor Jesus Christ.