Saturday, June 27, 2009

Your rage has unbalanced you. You, sir, would fight to the death, against a knight who is not your enemy.

We continue with our series based on The 10 Dumbest Things Christians Do, by Mark Atteberry. The following are some notes from my Sunday school lesson at Providence Church.

DUMB MOVE #6: Fighting Among Ourselves

“I doubt that anything causes God more anguish and Satan more delight than Christians attacking one another.”

When a feud breaks out in the church … 7 terrible things always happen.

1. the church’s leaders are distracted.

“Time and energy that could be spent planning for the future, organizing new ministries, or seeing to it that the flock is well cared for, are instead spent chasing down rumors, smoothing ruffled feathers, and negotiating cease-fires.”

2. the noncombatants are discouraged.

Sometimes it’s the bystanders who leave the church when they get beat down by drama.

3. the Lord’s work is disrupted.

“… no Christian can advance the cause of Christ while punching the bride of Christ.”

4. the community’s seekers are disenchanted.

They’re already looking for excuses and want to see us fail, but interested parties will have perceptions reinforced in light of church conflict.

5. long-held beliefs are disregarded.

You may see folks do a Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde transformation.

“I’ve watched believers who were otherwise kind and gentle suddenly become mean and ruthless in the middle of a church fight.”

“… the rules of common decency are generally thrown right out the window like yesterday’s garbage.”

6. the congregation’s testimony is discredited.

“the entire body is branded.”

7. the Lord is dishonored.

When His children fight it’s an embarrassment to the Father.

7 Priorities (all verbs/action) that Will Create a Culture of Calm (instead of conflict):

Priority # 1 – Obey leaders.

Priority #2 – Confront troublemakers.

“Confrontation is hard. It’s an emotional, gut-wrenching experience.”

Priority #3 – Refute heresy.

Priority #4 – Meet needs.

Priority #5 – Suppress legalism.

“While never winking at sin, we must be tenderhearted and understanding toward thow who struggle in their faith and haven’t yet overcome all the bad habits they picked up in the world.”

“… giving them adequate time to grow into the faith that is second nature to those of us who were privileged to grow up in strong Christian homes.”

Priority #6 – Discourage arguments.

Better to lose an argument than risk blow up.

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Priority #7 – Forgive sinners.

“… we are never more like Jesus than when we forgive.”

Discussion Questions:
  1. “Church conflicts are minimized when the members of the church are submissive to the leadership. Can you think of a time when you disagreed with the leadership, but chose to be submissive for the sake of peace? How difficult was it for you to do that? How do you feel about that choice today?”
  2. The church is to be both like an army and a hospital. What can you personally do to minimize the threat of “friendly fire” as well as providing a place of comfort for the wounded?
  3. Atteberry refers to legalism as “spiritual nit-picking.” In what areas are you prone to such legalism? In what areas have you experienced being on the business end of legalism?
  4. Why and how should we prioritize John 13:35 at Providence Church?



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