A healthy church is a growing church. But could the behaviors of your staff, leaders and congregation (or even you!) be sabotaging the health and growth of your community? Let’s face it, who hasn't had their buttons pushed at one time or another within the church community? The culture established when this happens can make the difference between a healthy, growing church and an unhealthy, stagnant one.
Instill in your church community a “Go Direct” culture, which involves the following 3 important behaviors.
- QUICKLY address any issue that comes up. Said another way, “shovel while the pile is small.”
- OPENLY and HONESTLY address the issue while refraining from gossiping, spreading rumors or asking those you tell to “keep this confidential.” We want our church communities to be safe places for healing and growth, not hiding places for dysfunction.
- DIRECTLY go to the person with whom you are upset or to the person who can do something about the issue. . . after exploring the following ideas.
Whenever our buttons are pushed, the first thing to do is to go direct inside ourselves – because we know that everything on the outside is a reflection of what is going on inside of us. So, before going direct to another person, we should always go direct with ourselves.
For example, if we are upset because no one else ever seems to step up to help, we could ask where inside ourselves are we not “stepping up” to serve and support ourselves? If we are hurt because someone spoke harshly and in a judgmental way to us, we could ask where are we being harsh and judgmental to ourselves? These are important questions to ask and perhaps we would want to turn to a Practitioner/Chaplain or Minister for spiritual guidance, clarity and prayer to help us sort this out.
If, after having done that, we still feel it is important to “go direct” (and it may well be), then asking ourselves the following four questions before going direct will help create a productive outcome. (These are taken from Dr. Greg Baer’s Real Love work.)
- First, is the issue about which I want to “go direct” any of my business?
- Second, does it really matter?
- Can I say what I have to say with love? (Meaning, do I have concern for the happiness and well being of the other person as well as for myself and my church community?)
- To the best of my ability to know, can the other person hear me?
If we can answer “yes” to all of these questions, then going directly to another person may well produce a mutually beneficial and harmonious resolution.
Going direct takes spiritual and emotional strength and maturity – no doubt about it. We risk having someone else not happy with us, we risk having conflict and we are asked to release our role of victim by taking responsibility for ourselves. But isn’t that what we are here to experience?! And isn’t that what creates a healthy church environment?
Instilling this culture in a church community may take some time, but it must start at the top, first with the Senior Minister, then with the rest of the ecclesiastical staff, then to the leadership. So begin by remembering to:
- QUICKLY address any issue that comes up.
- OPENLY address the issue while refraining from gossiping, spreading rumors or asking those you tell to “keep this confidential.”
- DIRECTLY and HONESTLY go to the person with whom you are upset or who can do something about the issue.