It seems to me that one of the markers of church health is the commitment to reconcile and work through our differences and our hurts. A healthy church is one that is led by Elders who model reconciliation, and is one filled by a people who work out their differences. As I said in my last post – it’s not a matter of if you will have conflict in a church, but a matter of when that conflict will happen and how that community works to resolve the conflict.
When I first helped to plant our church, I naively believed that people wanted a church where conflicts would be handled humbly and honestly with an ultimate commitment to reconcile and grow through our differences. I naively believed this because all the new people who came through our “membership classes” told me this was something they longed for in their church. Well, over time an uglier truth emerged. In truth, people say they want a church body that works through differences, but what that actually means is they want reconciliation to be a part of their church’s culture until they are personally required to reconcile. When people get wounded (which is going to happen when you put broken people together) and they are personally required to reconcile with the person or persons who wounded them – they are more likely to disappear to the church down the street than seek to reconcile. When this happens church leaders are left with one of two choices. Choice #1 – Stop asking people to come together, talk through their wounds and do the work of reconciling, because they realize it’s very difficult for people to actually do and therefore might cut into their Sunday morning body count. Choice #2 – Stay the course and be committed to working through differences and accept that a consequence of this decision may be the loss of a higher body count at Sunday services.
I believe a healthy church has no other choice than to model the necessity, the work, the hard conversations, and the grace involved in actually reconciling with one another after we’ve been wounded. I would love to hear your thoughts, even from some of the people over the years who haven’t been too happy with me for pleading with them to come and at least have a conversation. Let me hear from you