Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Conflict in Church
Jesus said, "Come unto me all of you who are heavily laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me because my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Mt. 11:25-30.
The promise to sinners is freedom from heavy burdens of guilt, shame and emotional pain. So, why are we surprised when the people who come to faith in Jesus act like people who have been traumatized, hurt, beaten and battered? I was appearing on a TV station near Columbus, Ohio. A Pastor from a large congregation was also appearing and we chatted while waiting to go on.
During the conversation revival and church growth came up and I asked, rather innocently, "Are you seeing the possibility of a revival in the near future?" He looked at me with surprise and said, "Oh! I hope not! My church is filled with a lot of neurotic, emotionally distraught people now and a revival would bring more into my church. I don't think I could handle another revival. Every dysfunctional, wounded Christian in Columbus comes to my church and I do not know why."
"Well" I said,"I see you are talking about healing tonight. Do you offer prayer for healing at your church?"
"We sure do, and hundreds come for prayer and we in the leadership are overwhelmed. Why do I have so many wounded people coming to my church?"
I pointed out that it seemed pretty obvious why to me. He was like a hospital that promised free medical care to the community and so all the sick people showed up. The problem was, his church had no one to provide the care, counsel and prayer for all those who came.
He was shocked because he had never thought that he was advertising free health care to the masses or that he needed to train a corps of Peer Helpers and Counselors to minister to those who showed up at his church. The result was chaos, conflict, complaints and contempt for the Pastoral staff by disgruntled people.
What about your church? Do you preach Jesus saves? Do people come expecting to be saved from childhood wounds and relational hurts left over from home and family life. Do you know how to help angry, difficult people? Have you trained Lay Helpers and Lay Pastors to meet with these folks and bring them them peace?
Many people come to faith and stay stuck in the Baby Stage of spiritual/emotional growth. They are often "Battered Babies who know nothing about the Bible or healing except how to cry, complain and create conflict. They were rejected and abandoned emotionally at home and often find the same kind of harsh treatment at their new church family, thus ripping the childhood scabs off their sores.
In Ohio there are some 12 million people of which about 60% or 7 million are unchurched. Of that number at least 50% have met Christ personally and been in church but have been hurt, bored or abandoned.
They would LOVE to find a caring, welcoming, warm congregation that would help them receive God's healing love. Like children, they may cause conflict just to get some needed attention and test the staff to see if will show them love or judgment.
Will your church put Humpty Dumpty back together again or push him off another wall?