Reposted from rethink
If you’re in community, your likely to experience conflict.
Conflict is healthy for any growing organization, church, marriage, and friendship. To not have conflict probably means that passivity has taken residency in your conversations. We are all allowed to have have our needs met and challenged.
What happens when we disagree with our Church? Let’s explore 4 questions.
1. Is this personal conflict or communal conflict?
In Philippians 4:1-4, Paul pleads with Euodia and Syntyche to get along. There is personal conflict between two ladies. Paul asks the church’s leaders and members to come alongside them.
Spiritual formation is critical to your personal conflict. Are you taking the inward journey? Why do you care about the issues that you keep bringing up? How many people need to know your bent towards other things? I know a lot of Christian who do a lot of stuff. I don’t know many Christians are focusing on being at peace.
In Leviticus 4, Moses writes that the entire Israelite community is guilty of sin when the High Priest sins. Sin/Conflict/Tension is personal, but it’s also communal. It’s not just your conflict, but it’s our conflict.
Are the issues you are feeling/thinking through also being felt by others? By others, I don’t mean your friends. That’s easy to leave a church if your friends feel the same way. Do people outside of your circle feel and express the same thoughts and feelings? That might be worth exploring. When an issue is disrupting an entire congregation, you might be stepping into an unhealthy congregation.
2. Is this a problem to solve or a tension to manage?
Problem To Solve
There are multiple ways to approach conflict. This is necessary, because you won’t get the same result if you use the same approach.
A problem to solve is something that must be “figured out.” Your personal, theological, ethical, preferences and bents have been violated, called into question, or aren’t valued. This is something where you feel like the church has crossed one of your personal boundaries.
Are you the one that’s supposed to “figure out” the problem? Are your church leaders supposed to “figure out” this problem?
Tension To Manage
A tension to manage is a conflict that doesn’t need to be solved now or possibly ever. This conflict doesn’t cross any of your boundaries. You are ok with this.
If it’s something to manage, the inward journey is critical. It means you don’t have control of how something may be decided upon, managed, or executed. If that sits well with you, then growth happens when you decide to not jab at it or passive aggressively get others on your side. Your spirit is at peace.
3. Is this a conflict of Theology or a Conflict of Proxy?
In any discussion, on theology, there are open-handed and close-handed positions.
Open handed issues are issues that you believe strongly, but are open to discussion and seeing where others land. These are different for different people. These conversations are fun (for me), because they can be heated and intense debates, but at the end you are ok with having your views moved or remain the same.
Close-handed issues are issues you believe strongly about and are not willing to change your position. For a lot of Christians, these are issues like: Is The Bible true? Did Jesus actually live? Did Jesus rise from the dead? Is Jesus the only way to heaven?
You need to know what are your open and close-handed issues. Churches need to know theirs too. Every church as a right to their own beliefs about Scripture and its theology.
What gets a lot of churches, in trouble, is when they don’t have an official position on a given issue. If there is an issue you care about, What is your church’s official position? If your church doesn’t have any official position, set up a meeting and explore it.
Proxy is often the reason why most people leave their church. It’s not such much their church’s beliefs as much as it the way people live. They don’t like how they are treated or how things operate.
There are a lot of great churches whom have deep convictions about theology. However, they are not willing to invite discussions with people on the “fringes of society.” They will talk about suffering, but they are not quick to help with rocky marriages. They may say everyone is welcome, but only to a certain point of comfort.
Are you someone who prefers a more “conservative approach to theology” and a more “liberal approach to loving people” or is it vice versa or something else? How you sit with those questions might help you decide if your among the right community of believers.
4. Is this a conflict for decision making rights or reconciliation?
Decision Making Rights
Every church should know why they exist….beyond the great commission. Loving everybody is a great mission, but everybody isn’t everybody. We are all different people with different preferences, dreams, and hopes.
If your church has a mission, vision, and values to reach a specific target audience, allow them to do this. It’s a heavy weight to hear from the Lord. A church shouldn’t change who they are and what they do to win everybody. It’s impossible. Jesus didn’t win everyone, neither will his churches. Sometimes people have their minds made up.
If you disagree with a church’s mission, vision, and values and it crosses your personal, theological, and practical beliefs, it may be time to go.
The high note of the Gospel is reconciliation – enemies of God to peace with God. It’s hard to seek peace if we haven’t taken the inward journey. If your goal is a curiosity that leads to peace and understanding, you should remain. You should stay even if it’s not something completely the way you would do church. If it doesn’t violate those personal beliefs and actions, stay with your church family. You have a Kingdom to gain, community to extend, and depth to growth into.
Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.
Why the PC Police
Had taken away
The reason for Christmas
No one could say.
The children were told
By their schools not to sing
About Shepherds and Wise Men
And Angels and things.
It might hurt people’s feelings,
The teachers would say
Is just a “Holiday”.
Yet the shoppers were ready
With cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down
To the floor just to get it!
CDs from Madonna,
An X BOX, an I-Pod
Something was changing,
Something quite odd!
Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books
By Franken and Fonda.
As Targets were hanging
Their trees upside down
At Lowe’s the word Christmas
Was no where to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples
And Penny’s and Sears
You won’t hear the word Christmas;
It won’t touch your ears.
Are words that were used
To intimidate me.
Now Daschle, Now Darden,
Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather,
On Kerry, on Clinton!
At the top of the Senate,
There arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus,
In all public matter.
And we spoke not a word,
As they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak
Of salvation and grace
The true Gift of Christmas
as exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season,
Stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate ‘Winter Break’
Under your ‘Dream Tree’
Sipping your Starbucks,
Listen to me.
Choose your words carefully,
Choose what you say
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS,
Not Happy Holiday!
Please, all Christians join together and wish everyone you meet
Christ is The Reason for the Christ-mas Season!
I try not to run political posts anymore, but I do think that this is a must watch for ALL CHRISTIANS.
The following was written by Steven Levy and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.
I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat…
Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.
In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.
In light of recent events… terrorists attack, school shootings, etc.. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school… The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.
Then Dr. Steven Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s talking about.. And we said okay..
Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’
Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.
Are you laughing yet?