People seek two things at church: 1) To encounter God, and 2) Peace. You can have the best music, but if the church is discombobulated, they’ll leave. You can have a blowing and going youth program, but if there’s stress in the church they’ll leave. The preacher can “shuck the corn,” but if people fuss, gripe, and are divided… people won’t stay. No matter how adept the preacher is in the pulpit, if people don’t like him they won’t care what he says AND they will leave. (Note: Pastors, listen to your friends. If it takes an enemy to tell you the truth… you have no friends!)
I know those things because of the number of people I’ve talked to who no longer attend church, but at one time were faithful. The overwhelming majority of them point to a time of division or fussing or some other tumult that took place. One said, “I get enough of that %$@ during the week. I certainly don’t want it when I go to church!” He made a good point.
It’s no wonder Paul pushed for Christians to be at peace with one another. When there is confusion and division in a church it means Satan is active. As it is written in 1 Cor 14:33, “God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” When there isn’t peace a person can either be part of the problem or part of the solution.
Suggestions: Pastor… Love God’s people. Show them how much they mean to you. Jesus loved them so much he died to save them… YOU must be willing to do the same. Otherwise you have no credibility. Staff… support your pastor. NEVER say anything negative about him or allow anyone to speak ill of him in your presence either. Church members… Pray FOR your pastor and staff, don’t prey on them. If there are ever problems, be part of the solution rather than making things worse.
ALL: LOVE each other! Forgive! Be reconciled! Show mercy, grace, and compassion to everyone… no matter what. BE at peace with one another. YOU are the face of Jesus in the community. If YOU do not show these qualities to each other you have invalidated the Gospel in the community!
Sadly, no one thinks they are part of the problem. I ask myself: do I gossip, criticise leaders or fellow church members, pray regularly for the pastor, staff and spoken prayer requests? Do I reach out to the hurting? Do I make an effort to get to know others? My questions convict me.