Here are some helpful hints which, if taken up with both hands, integrity and a heart that seeks reconciliation and growth for all involved, will pay dividends. They go like this:
- If you want someone to do a job in church, ask them, but never beg, if they say 'No' then accept it.
- If someone wants to do a job in church and you feel they are wrong for it - dialogue and if still unconvinced, say 'No' but, unless you are convinced otherwise. in church rather than 'NO' there's also 'not yet' and 'not until' and (best of all) 'let's try it together and see how it goes!' But if you're convinced - stick to your guns (but be honest about it).
- If someone threatens to leave, or offers their resignation, accept it - unconditionally and irrevocably - if they threaten once, they'll do it again - don't hand over the power. Send them with a blessing.
- If someone comes and tells you God has Told them to leave then, unless God has told you differently, support it and send them with a blessing and tell the place they're heading for that that's the case - it cuts out conflict and distrust before it can be sown.
- If someone comes to you from another church then tell them you'll contact their former minister to let them know they've arrived safely. If they say they don't want them to know where they've gone (or even that they have gone) - tell them you have to contact the minister as a courtesy. People who leave without saying they're going will do the same with you when they decide to move (and they will).
A recent conversation with the minister who was telling me how much they hated comings and goings and yet, ironically, was also complaining that they were in a 'static church'. How odd, after all if there's no comings and goings then what you have is . . . . (Use your own words for it). It was obvious that they capitulated whenever the resignation card was played and because of it, they'd handed over any authority they might have had. It was also obvious that they were so needy that they had pleaded with people to 'help them out' and in doing so had placed those people into a position of power.
I've been that man and have to own up and say that I have lived in fear of people going to such an extent that I put others to the sword rather than draw a line and say a heartfelt thank you for their oft proffered resignation. They knew I was living in fear and capitalised and manipulated the situation so completely that things I wanted to do, no scratch that, felt called to do - were put to one side rather than offend or lose them. I was in bondage to them and it was only later that I realised how much they were working for the enemy rather than for God or for good. I realised how my weakness had allowed satan to get a grip and oppress the church when I should have been a stronger, and more faithful, man and repentance and renewal and a determination to say 'never again' have replaced that fear.
The key is to live in peace but this peace does not mean we ignore the facts before us and permit people to damage the work of the church by pusillanimously rolling over because of our fear. Perfect love casts out fear and that same love gives us the ability to speak the truth in it too. That which we do outside of faith is sin - so let's work at being just that little more sinless shall we?