You know there is a topic that NEEDS to be discussed. You WANT it to be addressed. And you KNOW it'll cause tension, stress and maybe bad feelings if you bring it up. What to do? Change agents, deacons, prophets, even just regular people like parents and pastors - we all face this. And when we feel some sort of responsibility for making sure the topic gets addressed, it just adds to our pressure.
People who talk about money, budgets, justice, and who deal with benevolence requests, probably have more than their fair share of difficult conversations. If you notice a pattern of avoidance in you or your group, or a pattern of unproductive disagreement, invite your group to take a look at resources that can help. There are many out there, and I ran across a new one recently. It's about how to reduce the risks of talking about justice when alienating people could cost you your ministry. It's in the form of advice to Wesleyan seminarians, but it struck me as very useful far beyond that. Some of the advice is pretty basic, like pick your battles and know when to avoid unnecessary resistance. But there was some advice that I found really helpful like using the language of your community, building trust patiently before raising the tough issues, and the like. If you'd like to take a look, click here.
Leaders in our congregations need to know how to help the membership deal with difficult topics in fruitful and safe ways. It can be done, but it's not easy. And it's not everyone's cup of tea.
I would love to hear a story about how YOUR deacons managed a difficult issue well.