Serving in church leadership can come with its baggage of church controversy. No matter the church I’ve attended over the years, I have seen pastors resign, congregants leave, and influential members disagree.
What would Jesus do?
How should we respond when we are upset with one thing or the other in the church? What do we tell our kids when they see others criticizing their church on social media, for instance? What do we say when people in the community ask, “What’s going on at your church?” Even I want to ask these questions sometimes but I fear upsetting the course of the church.
As with any difficult situation where human beings, emotions, and varying opinions are involved, there won’t be easy explanations to these questions. However, certain things should remain constant in the midst of the pandemonium –
Above all else, pray even when you want to vent, explain, and defend what’s going on. When we think we are right and neglect the difficult and intentional work of humbly going to God in prayer, we rely on our flesh and all the dark and dangerous places our humanness can so easily and so quickly take us which won’t help to solve matters.
Die to self and be alive to the true course of service. Know that in the midst of church controversy, dying to self is being obedient in the everyday things. It is praying for those who are upset with, confused by, or are questioning me. It is being obedient to Christ’s call when it isn’t easy or desirable.
Look inward and deal with only yourself first. In being totally objective, you need to ask God to soften your heart so that you don’t judge or make conclusions in the midst of the controversy because in truth, in the middle of a difficult situation the only person you can control is yourself.
Be the leading example if you don’t like what is going on around you. Search your heart to ensure you are living in the light.
Amidst church controversy, in order to be conformed into Christ’s likeness, the only person that needs to act differently, is the one looking back at you in the mirror.