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Sometimes we are called to fight worthy battles, sometimes to build God's house.

My two pastorates differed greatly. Two Sunday afternoons, less than three years apart, typify the contrasts.

The first afternoon began with an awkward lunch. The atmosphere reminded me of the meal following a funeral-people smile and comment on the food, but inwardly their hearts are broken. I knew mine was.

Joining us at the table was our district superintendent and an elder from a sister church in town. They had come at the request of our elder board to spend the afternoon listening privately to the complaints and accusations of individuals in our congregation.

What had begun sixteen months earlier as minor skirmishes was now full-blown conflict with several individuals. The surface tension was over issues as petty as my decision to rearrange the office furniture. We also struggled with an undercurrent of controversy over the practice of certain spiritual gifts. But as I saw it, the real conflict was the issue of control-a small group in the church had served notice that they were in charge, ...

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