As a Pastor, I often hear that a good church is one that gets along. Anytime there is tension or conflict that particular congregation gets labeled bad. What if our perception is backward?
I’ve often said that if there isn’t at least someone upset with the way things are going in a congregation, the congregation is dead. Here is another way to put it from an article by Amy Butler:
A member of my congregation recently came to see me and we agreed: tension is absolutely necessary in any congregation that wants to welcome the future. The truth of the matter is: any congregation that wants to be part of the future of the Church — whatever that will be — must be ready and willing to welcome whatever will come.
And that means tension.
There’s tension between what was and what will be. There’s tension between policies and vision. There’s tension between roles and responsibilities. But how do we move forward? We feel the tension, but we want the future. What to do?
Amy has four ways to deal with tension in the church
First, there has to be a commitment to hiring good people, and to helping good volunteers step into meaningful service. Please, friends, empower your senior clergy to hire an excellent team; these professionals will make or break your efforts. Then, furthermore, help qualified and competent lay people step into leadership roles. They will take you to the future! Hire the professionals, then let the laity step in, and empower them to lead.
Second, in a system welcoming the future, there has to be training. TRAINING! In any way that we can summon education around roles and responsibilities, that education is key. We have to communally understand why we are here and what responsibilities our roles require. When we have that, we can move forward with confidence.
Third, if we’re transitioning, we have to work to keep the vision alive. Tell each other why you’re here. Remind one another of the gifts of the community. Reiterate the substance of your life together — again and again. Keep the vision alive.
Fourth, and last: learn to trust each other. When a new leader comes in, when change begins to happen, we want to welcome that change. After all, we’ve been waiting and working for such a turn of events. But when the change comes, we often think: “It almost feels like we haven’t participated in such a change!” Trust your leaders. Trust each other. We will make it through this change.
The last sentence really sums it up for me: We will make it through this change.