Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Hey Fletch … I’m new to dealing with church relationships. Sitting in the Director of Finance chair, I receive calls from disturbed congregants. I struggle with this. I don’t understand how followers of Christ can be so vicious. Is there any training or reading that can help me in this area?

DRF—I’m saddened to hear about the phone calls that you are getting. Church members should share their thoughts and opinions … but in a Christlike manner. You used a descriptive word in “vicious.” Webster defines it as: 

  • dangerously aggressive: savage—a vicious dog
  • marked by violence or ferocity: fierce—a vicious fight

Your note reminds me of the early days of email. People would sit down and write a hostile screed. To use Webster again, “screed is a ranting piece of writing.” We had a man write a four-page email about some issue that he was hot about. It was terrible. We asked for a meeting and in our time together asked for him to read his email to us. He got a few lines into it and then stopped. The writing was so mean that he couldn’t read it out loud. The man apologized for his style. Then we had a productive discussion about his heartfelt issues. 

Perhaps the telephone gives the same sense of distance that email does. “I can say what I want because I can’t see you.” Ask to meet the person for coffee in a local restaurant. Spend time listening to their issues. If they begin to rant, gently call them out for their inappropriate words.

A great book on this is “The Peacemaker” by Ken Sande. I’ve given away hundreds of copies to church members and pastors over the years. Often I will ask them to read a particular chapter on how to share their thoughts in a Christlike way. Ken takes the words of the Bible and applies them to conflict. He shows that conflict is a way to grow closer to God. This may be your divine appointment to help people grow in their relationship with God!