”Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16 NIV
I’ve been around a great many churches in my life and career. I have found that so many people have been hurt in the church. In most of these it seems that someone said something, did something, didn’t say something or didn’t do something and this hurt someone else. The person who is hurt will usually do one of the following:
- Leave the church
- Allow their hurt to seep out to others in the congregation
What this does is creates dissension within the walls of the church. This is very dangerous and is the playground for Satan. The prince of darkness loves it when Christians begin to quarrel with one another because it takes their focus and the focus of the church and places it on something besides the Great Commission. Thus the warning from Paul to the Philippians, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.”
Is this really possible? A church without some sort of dissension seems like the exception to the rule. However, IT IS POSSIBLE. How do we get to that point? Well, Jesus gave us a plan to deal with problems in the church.
“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.” Matthew 18:15-17 The Message
A three-point plan to prevent dissension/arguments/hurt feelings within the church.
- Go and tell the person who hurt you or your upset with.
- IF he doesn’t listen, take one or two others along and try again.
- IF he still won’t listen, tell the church.
In our churches today, there is way too much skipping of the first step. As pastor, when someone comes to me with a complaint against another congregation member or a staff member, the first thing I ask is, “Have you talked to that person?” Most often the question is no.
The main reason people get hurt and leave the church is a lack of communication. Skipping step number 1. Jesus made this one number 1 and I believe he was a pretty smart man. If we’re Christian, why do we just jump over the first step when most disagreements can be solved at this point? Let me assure you that anonymous letters, talking with other congregation members or just holding it in and staying hurt or mad will NOT help the situation.
Please, allow me to encourage you to open up that line of communication with everyone in the church. If you have an issue with something a fellow member, staff or if the pastor has said, not said, done, or not done something, please go to that person with your concerns. If he/she does not listen, then go Step 2, then if it is not resolved go to Step 3
It seems that someone is always upset with the pastor. It’s okay because the way to avoid that is to try to make everyone happy. When pastors try to make everyone happy, they lose focus of their true calling from God. I had one of my pastor mentors tell me, “Don’t spend time worrying about the complaints that have come from someone on behalf of the person who is complaining. If they won’t talk to you one on one, you’re not going to be able to make changes to their satisfaction and it takes your focus off the important stuff.”
Open up your communication and there WILL BE less dissension in our churches and can you then imagine what God can accomplish for the Kingdom!