Friday, 26 October 2012
Long time, little in the way of blogging, in large part because there has been a lot going on that it would be wrong to blog about. There has been trouble at the mill which made it necessary to have a morning service of Repentance and Reconciliation on Sunday, a time to forgive one another and move on.
It was largely very successful, the weeks before had been well spent by some to have some difficult conversations that had previously been avoided. In the service we looked at what Jesus has to say about our need for reconciliation (Matthew 5.21-24) and how we go about being reconciled (Matthew 18.15-17).
That second passage in particular is very practical and clear instruction. It’s also very scary and so we often chicken out of doing what we are told to do in these passages.
There are things we are told not to do – don’t pretend that everything is alright, don’t slip away from church without telling anyone why, don’t grumble and gossip about the situation. Jesus doesn’t even tell us to win the argument, just to win the person back; be reconciled.
As a leadership team we have taken good advice from others in our position (and more importantly Jesus!) and repented of listening to anonymous feedback. This has been crippling us for some time and so we needed to make clear that we will listen to and engage with anyone who brings any complaint to us, we will make every effort to listen (a word that comes up four times in those three verses) and respond accordingly, whether it’s to explain, clarify, apologise, or whatever.
But we will no longer respond to anonymous feedback of the nature “a lot of people think” where those people are not prepared to say who or to be identified. (From experience, “a lot of people” can mean anything from most of the church to a single person.) Such feedback gets us nowhere. We don’t know who is upset, how many people are upset, why they are upset, how strongly they are upset, we don’t know who we are supposed to listen to and talk to and we have no opportunity to work together to be reconciled. It leaves the person or people with a complaint feeling frustrated too because no-one seems to be listening or caring and nothing changes.
So, confessions of a dysfunctional church leadership, that was how we were and we made things harder for ourselves. We have repented, turned from old ways to new ways – better ways – and are determined to do it the way that Jesus says, face to face, graciously, gently, boldly, lovingly, honestly, openly.
The full sermon that was preached on Sunday can be listened to here or downloaded under Reconciliation here. Pray, all the time, that you never need it!