“In the way we regard our children, our spouses, neighbors, colleagues, and strangers, we choose to see others either as people like ourselves or as objects.They either count like we do or they don't. In the former case we regard them as we regard ourselves, we say our hearts are at peace toward them. In the latter case, since we systematically view them as inferior, we say our hearts are at war.”
Ideology often trumps common sense. Common sense says that honey catches more flies than vinegar — being sweetly concerned about the interests and needs of others, will lead to a more fruitful and peaceful existence. But if you are acidic, competitive, slow to forget slights and always looking for a way to put others down, your life will be marked by sorrow and loss. Why do we choose the latter? As individuals and as congregations, we are often mired in destructive and painful thought systems, or to use an appropriate word, ideologies.
What is the one thing your local church is uniquely called and equipped to do in your context? You may expect a variety of answers to this question, but they all boil down to four visions or unique callings:
1) A church may be called to care for its members and buildings
2) A church may be called to share Christ with the next generation
Have you heard this one?
Baptist: How many disgruntled members does it take for your church to change the pastor?
Methodist: Oh we don’t have to worry about that. They change themselves.
Many churches are in conflict today. Often these fights have become abusive, traumatising parish leaders. I can give at least three reasons for why the American church scene has become so rancorous:
1) The steady decline in American church participation has caused us to feel depressed in our church work. Depressed people are risk adverse, passive aggressive, and argumentative.
2) The constant emphasis on church growth and how laity are keeping their pastors from being successful, has made us all feel ashamed. Shame-based cultures shuffle blame around rather than dealing problems in an objective fashion.