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"We are resolved to put these patterns of behavior behind us, and become the unified body of believers that Christ anticipated when he prayed in John 17:23 ' … that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me.'"

"I hope this can be a model for others," Joudry said to me on the phone. "Each church has its story, has its 'stuff.' Our job is to face it. Face our junk. Face that elephant in the sanctuary that nobody talks about. Face it, stare it down, cry over it. Work through it. And when it's been wrestled to the ground, to get up and begin to look forward.

"It's dumb to act like we have no problems. And it's just as bad to take half measures. You can't fix congestive heart failure with band-aids. You have to dig down, dig right to the cause, look at ourselves."

Facing the problem has been messy and painful, and still is. Conflict always comes with aftershocks, with sad "what-if"s, with a sense of lost time, lost love, lost opportunities. But in the water and tears of an odd church service last year, many wounds were washed as one congregation faced their stuff and saw light on the other side.

A church repented for old sins. Reconciliation began. Something beautiful happened by the river in Madison.

Paul Pastor is associate editor of Leadership Journal.

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Paul J. Pastor is associate editor of Leadership Journal.

From Issue:Ministry Health, January 2014 | Posted: January 1, 2014

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The Survivor

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Burning out, getting healthy, and not giving up on the church.

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