Monday, June 25, 2012

What if I Don't Agree With the Direction of the Church?

What if I don't agree with the direction of the church?  This question comes up in every church sooner or later, so what is the proper way to deal with the issue?  What should we do? 

First of all let's establish that disagreeing, just like anger, is not a sin.  When times of disagreement come up in the church--and they will, over and over again--a question we should ask ourselves is do we react or respond?  We are all emotional beings and without the Holy Spirit to keep these emotions in check at times we may react or respond sinfully.

God has always been a God of order, it is people who sometimes get it wrong.  The church was never created to be a democracy though we have brought this type of government into the church.  God has always called men to lead His people and then given those men a vision of what He wants them to do.  The leader then shares this vision with the body and they work together to carry out God's plan.

How to best carry out God's plan can sometimes cause a difference of opinion. I believe a good leader will first spend much time in prayer and then try to the best of their ability to present the vision, the plan to carry it out the vision, and the reasons for the vision and the plan.  There should be a time to answer questions and address concerns that the body may have, but not to change the direction God has revealed.

So if all this happens and we are one of those who still do not agree, what then?  We should respond by entering into a time of intense prayer ourselves and seek God's guidance.  God is not going to give the man He has called to lead the church one vision and then give someone else in the church a different vision; that causes confusion and that is not of the Lord. 

If we do not necessarily agree with the plan, then the next question we need to ask ourselves is do we trust the leadership?  Will God confirm the plan in our hearts later?  Can we remain a part of the fellowship without stirring up strife?  If not, it may very well be God's way of letting us know that it's time to move on, He has another place for us to serve.         

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Church Conflict

Can a person be wronged and then be in the wrong? Church conflict is an age old issue that will never go away until Jesus returns. The early church had to deal with it and I've never heard of a church that has not. The question is not if conflict will come, the question is how we deal with it when it does come. Part of the problem is that as believers are all at different levels in our spiritual maturity. We may all have different ideas and strategies on how to respond when we feel like we have been wronged, and it is a natural emotion for one to become defensive when this happens. What we do or say when we feel like we have been wronged certainly is a spiritual marker in our life. 

Jesus was wronged and did nothing but ask the Father to forgive them. It is very hard for us to do this. However, instead of taking matters into our own hands when this happens, should we not see what the Bible tells us we should do? Matthew 18 deals with this beginning in verse 15. When we take matters into our own hands and do other things--such as spread our hurt to others--then we may find ourselves on the wrong side. Proverbs has a lot to say about those who stir up strife; in fact in Proverbs 6, God says He hates one who stirs up strife among the brothers. Scripture has much to say about reconciliation. One question we might ask ourselves?  Is my reaction and/or response making a possible reconciliation harder or easier?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Importance of Selecting Teachers

I would like to deal with some very good comments and a question that were recently left for me on the post Another Step.  The subject was dealing with SS teacher selection.

Quite a number of years ago our family joined a church which had won consecutive SS Eagle awards for church growth, four years running.  I firmly believe that what happened while we were there was the result of what the commenter was questing in my prior post.  The pastor was very evangelistic and a good friend of mine and the education guy was also a friend and a man I respected.  Their church growth was a case of a formula put into place for church growth, and new classes were created yearly to stick with the formula.  There reached a point when the church plateaued because the teachers of most of the classes were not even mature believers themselves and the principle of as the leader goes, so go the people or the student rarely rises above the level of the teacher kicked in.  As a result of the spiritual immaturity in the church, many petty problems came up and could not be effectively handled and the church spent many years at a standstill.  

Teacher selection is one of the most important responsibilities for the Minister of Education, Sunday School Director and/or Pastor.  The commenter referenced James 3 and I totally agree.  Many who aspire to be teachers should not or should not yet.  It is the responsibility of the overseer to help those in the church to find their place of service and then equip and even mentor them. 

A teacher should never be accepted just because they volunteer and solicitation should definitely not occur from the pulpit.  This should take place after much prayer and then after a one-on-one meeting.  I would also never allow someone who has not been a member of the church for at least six months (preferably one year), to fulfill the awesome responsibility of a Sunday School teacher.  This includes people who come to the church from another church who may have been teaching there for twenty years.

One notable exception to this might be the following:  if a teacher were involved in an accident or had an extended illness or family crisis.  There are times when it is necessary to serve (temporarily) out of need and not giftedness.  Too many times though, leadership uses this "time of need" situation as an opportunity to stop looking.

I will even go on to say that the best teachers, and the ones I always look for, are not those who necessarily have a degree or have great teaching skills, but those who are the best Shepherds.  The Shepherd/Leader is one who is concerned about those under their care and demonstrates this by keeping up with the lives of their class members and spends time together with class members outside the classroom.  Caring about people is not a spiritual gift but a fruit of the spirit.  It is a maturity issue.  Teaching skills can be acquired and taught, but caring about people is a heart issue.

Let me finish up by saying that when your people grow in their spiritual maturity then most often your church will grow as well.  Once a proper leader base is established, the church will never be short on leadership.  It should not be the goal for the church leaders to grow the church but to spiritually grow their people.  When that is done correctly, a steady, healthy growth should occur.