“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you.” (Matthew 18:15, The Message)
These are words from Scripture that I have been pondering a lot lately for multiple reasons. One, there just seems to be so much conflict in the world. It is in the form of politics, religion, within our own denomination, and yes, even within our local church and community. Conflict is ever-present, and we, as humans don’t handle it well at all. We don’t like to deal with conflict, but we sure like to start it. We start it anonymously through social media and comment sections of online news stories, and yes, as I’ve found over the last 6-months, even anonymously through comments in the offering plate and attendance sheets.
First, I want to share my policy on “complaints” and “suggestions” that come to the office. If there is not a name associated with it, it ends up in the trash. Plain and simple. If I can’t investigate the complaint or have a conversation to better understand it, I’m not going to spend time on it and neither will the church leadership. A few words on a piece of paper never tell the whole story and allow for understanding, so we just can’t spend the time on it when there is so much other ministry going on and projects to expend energy with.
Second, if you have strongly held opinions about something going on at the church, set up an appointment with me to discuss it. Let’s be Biblical! I’m sure there are lots we can learn from each other. I’m positive that I will learn more about your suggestion or complaint by hearing directly from you. I will be able to ask you questions and understand at a deeper level why a decision or action has bothered you. Likewise, you will have the opportunity to understand the decision that was made and why it was implemented from my or church leadership’s side.
This is true especially of decisions made about content and style in worship. Contrary to popular belief of many, it takes hours and sometimes weeks to come up with worship service details. I promise you I spend deep time in prayer and discernment to come to decisions. I have theological and Scriptural reasons for what and why we do things. So, let’s talk about it!
Going to a person and having a discussion is always the best first step anytime we find ourselves in conflict or upset. The Gospel tells us that, Christ has offered us this example, so let us be part of the inbreaking of God’s way into our lives and the world around us.
Grace and Peace,