Trust good people to hear difficult truths, and be honorable enough to tell them as soon as they need to know it.
6. Healthy churches learn from past conflicts to move forward even stronger
Like an occasional sniffle, a disagreement that’s handled well can actually help inoculate a church from bigger problems in the future.
When I do pre-marriage and marriage counselling, I often tell the couple that a day with an argument that gets resolved is better for the long-term health of the marriage than a day without an argument.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll take as many argument-free days as I can – in both my church and my marriage. But I’ve come to learn that the lessons learned from disagreeing well are a great way to strengthen a church, a marriage and any relationship.
Besides, if you’re going to argue, why not get something valuable out of it?
The way we do this is very simple. Take a small amount of time after the disagreement has ended to ask all the involved parties “what have you learned from this?” insisting that their responses must be healing, honest and helpful. (Comments like “I’ve learned that Terry is an unteachable idiot” means you haven’t resolved anything.)
It’s a family, but it doesn’t have to be a feud
If a church really is acting like the family of God that we are supposed to be, we will have all the ups and downs that every family has. We will work together, laugh together, cry together and disagree ocassionally.
But we’ll always be family. Not just while we’re on this earth. But as the church, we will be family forever.
We might as well learn how to get along here and now.
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