“A Church”–When Things Don’t Go According to Plan

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “a church.”   Not a particular one but the individual gathering of believers that usually meet at __________.   They are smaller than “The Church” which is the entire body of believers spread all over the world.

What happens when people screw up in a church?   What happens when things don’t go the way it was planned?   How do the Christians inside that group of believers respond?    How does the “ship” get rerouted back into the direction that God wants the church to go?ship in rough waters

When it becomes obvious to the leadership of the church that something isn’t going in the right direction, the first thing that the leadership should do is ask God.

Ask God for guidance – for the ability to determine what His plan is.

And then ask God for grace – because solving problems anywhere is traumatic, but especially in church.

Then the leadership needs to make a couple of decisions:

  • Is this a problem because of only a few people’s opinions or is it a wide spread problem?   In either case, the problem needs to be dealt with but how wide spread the problem is has a big impact on how it is dealt with.    Not every gathering of Christians is the right one for every person.   My parents attend a church that is a great church but would not be a good church for my family.   We have different needs, different desires and need a different church to help us grow.
  • If the problem is indeed widespread, then the leadership of the church needs to attempt to define the problem in relation to what God’s plan is for that church.   This will take many “problems” and turn them into minor ones.   The color of carpet in the sanctuary, the number  of songs that are sung out of the hymnal – those are two examples of “problems” that aren’t significant in God’s plan for that church.    As long as they are being faithful to God’s plan, it doesn’t matter what color the carpet is.

So, the leaders, the spiritual leaders of that church, have decided that the problem is a significant one and it is one that is impacting their ability to follow God’s plan for that church, then what?  A couple of ideas:

  • Define ways to fix the problem.   In order to fix _________ we need to do _______________ and _________________ and __________________.
  • Determine if the leaders and the staff are willing to work together on fixing the problem.
  • Take the necessary steps to move forward, implement a plan and begin turning the boat around and moving in the direction God wants it to go.

Recently attended Madison Square Church in Grand Rapids, their Senior Pastor, Dave Beelen, was reminiscing back on his 30 years there (they are celebrating their 100th anniversary) and he said something that stuck with me.

“We’ve had our disagreements.   We’ve had our fights.   But we’ve learned to fight well.”

A church will never go according to plan 100% of the time.   It can’t.   It’s being run, at ground level, by human beings.   We screw up.

But if we argue well, if we disagree with grace and we always look to see what God’s will is and follow that, we’ll be able to solve the problems and move forward.

And moving forward makes God happy.


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