“Divisions in the church always breed atheisms in the world.” – Thomas Manton
Gossip, low attendance, high divorce rate, constant turnover on staff, families leaving, staff not feeling heard or valued, and complaining congregants are sure to make you feel attacked and overwhelmed. When this happens, remember that it is not as much what happens but how you handle these issues that will set the tone for the future of your ministry. Here are a few reminders to help you through the tough issues and seasons.
- We are called to lead, but we are also called to follow. Paul said in 1 Cor 11:1, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” First and foremost, look to God for wisdom and direction to lead your church.
- Stand firm. Be different. 1 Cor 16:13-14 says, “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.”
- Don’t isolate yourself. “One who has isolated himself seeks his own desires; he rejects all sound judgment” – Prov 18:1. First thoughts are often to retreat and pull away when you feel attacked. But Heb 10:39 reminds us that “we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
- Be an ally to your staff. “With upright heart, he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand,” – Ps 78:72. More than ever during the tough times your staff need a godly example of leadership.
- Be an ally to God’s people. “Where there is no guidance, a people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” – Prov 11:14.
- Encourage your staff and congregants to choose wise and godly allies for their inner circle. “Remember those leading you who spoke the word of God to you, of whom, considering the outcome of their way of life, you are to imitate their faith” – Heb 13:7. As goes the personal lives of those close to you, so goes your own personal life.
Often our natural tendency is to look for the path of least resistance by surrounding ourselves with people who are like us. Notice those you surround yourself with. If you are constantly having issues and drama in your inner circle, you may need to rearrange your inner circle of influencers. Misery loves company, but the problem is that your company will never let you escape your misery! Make sure you surround yourself with godly allies who are humble, honest, have the courage to hold you accountable, have good character, their wisdom comes from God’s word, and whose lives prove they have made wise and godly decisions in hard times.
There are no perfect churches because there are no perfect people. Everyone has issues. But as believers, we are called to righteousness and excellence in the midst of our broken and fallen world. Whether leaders or lay members, we need godly allies to help us gain wisdom to promote unity and growth in the body of Christ. For more on this topic listen to my podcast entitled Church Conflict and Your Role.