Prevent a Church Split
- Wednesday, March 08, 2006
* Forgive. Whenever people in your church fall into sin or fail your expectations, be willing to forgive them. Don’t allow bitterness to fester in your heart. Ask God to grant them – and you – new grace.
* Be thankful. Rather than focusing on what’s lacking in your church and complaining about it, be positive. Take time regularly to remind yourself of all that you appreciate about your church. Ask God to show you clearly how He is at work in your church, and thank Him for it.
* Seek God’s perspective. Ask God to help you see the best part of every situation you encounter at your church. Ask Him to help you view problems and weaknesses as opportunities, struggles as refining tools, and sinners as saints in progress.
* Be accountable. As a pastor, make sure you’re accountable to other people (such as elders or a deacon board) who will encourage you to do the right thing when it’s challenging for you. Ask them to support and encourage you as you seek to live with integrity and maintain a close relationship with Christ.
* Be willing to listen. Genuinely listen to and consider suggestions from church members. Show humility and openness when interacting with them.
* Encourage people to use their spiritual gifts and natural talents. Provide plenty of opportunities for people to contribute to the life of your church so they don’t get frustrated – and so everyone benefits from what they bring to your congregation.
* Make it easy for people to transfer to another church. Give people who want to leave your church your blessing with no hard feelings if God leads them elsewhere. Trust God to bring your church the people it needs at the right times.
* Submit to authority. Recognize that, just as God has created the universe with a certain structure, He also orders human relationships so that people who hold certain positions are in authority over others. Out of love for God, submit to the authorities He has placed in your life.
* Show other people honor and respect. Understand that God calls you to honor and respect people even if you disagree with them. Don’t shame other people, no matter what their views. Treat everyone with dignity.
* Pursue true success. Realize that true success in life comes from only one thing – becoming more and more like Christ. Seek to attain qualities of His character that will make you a success and lead to unity in your church: humility, submissiveness, a passion for prayer, and a mature, redemptive heart attitude.
* Don’t be easily offended. Ask God to strengthen your heart so you’re not easily offended. Ask Him to help you let minor offenses go and move on beyond them toward maturity.
* Adjust your expectations to reality. Ask God to help you discern what’s truly reasonable to expect of people in your church. Don’t compare people to others, but appreciate the unique way God has made them.
* Maintain love in the midst of injustice. Know that God sometimes allows injustices to help people learn to love better. Ask Him what He wants you to learn from being wronged, and trust Him to transform your bad experiences into good according to His purposes. Rather than seeking revenge, continue to act in love, remembering that God is looking out for you.
* Ask God to use you. Regularly invite God to use you as an instrument of His love to unite people in your church. Do all you can to make your church a gate into heaven, where people celebrate in unity.
Adapted from A House United: How Christ-Centered Unity Can End Church Division copyright 2005 by Francis Frangipane. Published by Chosen Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.chosenbooks.com.
Francis Frangipane is the senior minister of River Life Ministries and the author of 12 books, including This Day We Fight! A pastor since 1972, he travels throughout the world ministering to thousands of pastors in hundreds of cities. He and his wife, Denise, have six children and live near Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Visit his Web site at: www.inchristsimage.org.
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