squabble_sheepEvery year in the Southern Baptist Convention 1,000+ pastors are terminated (Those are the ones reported). Of that number, 45% do not return to vocational ministry. Then there are many churches that fight, then split… and split… and split. People get their feelings hurt, leave that church for another one or quit going to church at all. All that should grieve our hearts!

The Chairman of a Pastor Search Team once told me, “I’ve come to the conclusion there isn’t a church anywhere that doesn’t have problems!” A denominational worker recently said, Every pastor in every church has problems.” Both times deep in my soul I thought, “And it shouldn’t be that way!”  Sadly, my personal experience is that both men were more right than I’d like to admit.

I suggest Christians are not having a more positive impact nationally because they have abandoned John 13:35, “All people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” It is rare Christians live out Eph 4:31, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

After reflecting on 23 years of serving as pastor, I’ve come to a few conclusions for the future if God so allows:

If there’s a disagreement of any kind with anyone, no one leaves. Work through it from an attitude of love, grace, mercy, and compassion (Ro 12:18),

Do NOT let situations fester. As soon as they are known, address them!

Always have restoration as the unwavering goal in all disagreements (Gal 6:1-2),

Operate from the perspective of love, humility, and forgiveness regardless of the situation (1 Cor 13:4-8A),

Ignore ALL gossip. Only believe what a person actually tells you themselves,

Refuse to let anyone be anonymous with accusations (“Some people told me,” or “Someone told me in confidence,” or “I can’t say who said this, BUT…”). If our criminal justice system allows the accused to confront his accusers, shouldn’t the church at least do the same?

Finally, if people refuse to work toward reconciliation, forgiveness, and restoration… as an absolute last resort follow Titus 3:10-11, Romans 16:17, 2 Thess 3:14-15.

Written from boots on the ground…