I have never seen a successful organization, including faith-based ones, that do not regularly meet to evaluate, reformulate, discuss issues to resolve or change the way things are done, or to address issues with personnel.
Often these issues deal in regards to people or persons within a fellowship that are causing problems, or creating an atmosphere that is not Godly, or is negatively affecting others. There is nothing wrong with addressing matters such as this in a sincere effort to try and resolve these types of issues.
We are not benefiting a fellowship or group when we allow others to continue in behaving and acting with attitudes that breed fleshly responses in continuing to occur. We are not benefiting the person’s spirituality or well-being when we ignore, dismiss, or fail to bring them to an accountability with the way they are mistreating others, especially if it is creating division. Anything creating division needs to be addressed, and this includes persons who are causing others hurt, harm, and grief, including pastors and/or leaders.
Paul did the same thing in addressing several of the home churches where persons were continuing to behave in self-centered ways. These issues exist in our fellowships today and need to be addressed in order to correct, instruct, and disciple in the ways of Christ. There is a proper and scriptural way to address these issues.
If a brother or sister has offended or done wrong to you, the scriptures in Mathew 18 says to go to them. Mathew 18:15-16 “If another believer sins (wrongs) you, go privately and point out the fault. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.”
Mathew 18:17 “But If you are not successful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If that person still refuses to listen, take your case before the church. If the church decides you are right, but if the other person won’t accept it, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.”
So, the procedure, scripturally is to bring it to the awareness of the one doing the wrong, if they do not listen, then take it to another brother or sister, or two, talk it over with them, in order to find a way to resolve these types of disturbances. Human conflict is the deepest source of frustration, anger, and misconduct that occurs in any fellowship. This also would include attempts to address persons within a fellowship with the leader/pastor(s).
It is people we interact with and with all of us having varying personalities, different temperaments, we are bound to have disagreements that often turn beyond that and into anger or in being harmed.
Seeking Godly council is also scriptural when we have times of uncertainty, doubting, and when we run up against human conflict with others. Speaking to another wise and discerning brother or sister is an appropriate way to handle things and this does not fall into what is known as gossip when one is trying to find a way to resolve these conflicts.
Bringing to awareness issues happening within faith based fellowships needs to occur as there is no other way to have these matters addressed, other than turning a blind eye in continuing to dismiss persons who are behaving and acting in manners that are negatively affecting others.
Sometimes people think they are gossiping when bringing matters to the attention of one who is open to listening.
The Webster’s Dictionary has the following definitions concerning the words gossip and council.
Gossip: meddling, small talk, malicious talk, hearsay, rumor, scandal, slander, defamation, injury, snoop, busybody, chatterbox, backbiter.
Council: a group of people called together for discussion, advice, etc.
So, if you are having issues with a brother, sister, or many in a group, it is appropriate and necessary to bring it to the awareness of another Christian who you trust in order to find a way through the problem if you feel intimidated or fear the one in charge, or the leaders heading up a group, or are unsure how to approach this matter.
If you are bringing a matter that is causing you grief to another’s attention to seek council in to what to do, this is not gossip, as gossip is to cause harm, or to degrade another with no means to resolve or find a way to address the conflict. If you are seeking peace, a place to find direction, and want to improve things, this is not gossip, but seeking wisdom from another whom you respect.
Lets not assume people are intent on creating some sort of malicious intent when they try to talk it out with another if they are attempting to find a way through this difficulty.
Any person has the right to attempt to sift through an often uncomfortable and heart felt response to how others are treating them in any group, when they are uncertain as to how to handle the situation, with a close bonded friend in whom they trust and respect.
Of course, it is not always possible to work out matters of human conflict that is causing harm in fellowships and we all know of many groups that continue in allowing abusive and harmful conduct by those in spiritual authority to profligate within their midst.
It is not healthy to remain connected to groups where you do not feel or sense you are valued or listened to when trying to address conflicts. When persons are more invested in keeping the status quo and doing business as usual in desiring to defend those you feel have done the wrong, then most likely, the atmosphere will not change, and its best to move on.
When no corrective action is taken to amend the poor behaviors occurring that have caused you grief or hurt, or if the person (s) leading do not see it or are unwilling to address is, finding a place where you can thrive, be accepted, grow into spiritual maturity, be loved, valued and seen as having worth where your input is meaningful, wanted and needed, is of vital importance for your own well being, along with your growth as a Christian.
To live in community with one another means to embrace one another letting each other know by our words, our actions and our willingness in sharing our lives in spending time with one another, outside the walls of a building.
We need to show how others are important to us when we allow access, and we enter into relationships that go beyond speaking love, but actually walking side by side, showing love in practical means. It is easy to preach love, but much more difficult to walk it, actually bearing one another’s burdens, instead of praying them away, being Christ, serving and meeting needs.
No one is perfect, nor is any fellowship, but should we not all strive to be like Christ and live the gospel, not just preach or speak about it?
Lorraine Taylor – Lay Minister
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA.