Matt 18:15

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A. I am new to the forum and excited to be here.

B. Something that is extremely hot right now in my congregation is the whole, "I don't like it" scene ... People don't like worship songs, people don't like when I preach too long or too passionately, people don't like that we've made some changes to a certain program, etc. etc. And because of that, I've been approached and told, that I'm needing to go make it right by people ... I struggle with this because I don't feel as if I have "sinned" by having a song in the worship service that may be new or of a different tempo or that my sermons are unbiblical or that changes made were selfish. It seems to me that Jesus in Matt 18:15 is talking about the sins we commit against other people, not infringing on people's likes and dislikes. Therefore, my question for discussion is precisely Matt 18:15 and what it entails. Am I sinning when I do things like add new songs, preach passionately for 30 minutes, or make changes to programs? Do I need to repent? Or is something flipped around here, do I need to 'go and show people their fault' for being critical? 

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Brian, You know the answer. The members who are manipulating the church with their opinion are the one;s who need to be told that church isn;t about just them. They are overstepping the boundaries. If they feel strongly about it ask them to make a public plea to the church instead of hiding.

Thanks

Ken

Ken,

Thank you for confirming what I thought I already knew...I am only into my first call a year and a half and loving it.  However, as we do make changes and as we try new things, I want to make sure that I am not serving myself but have the mind of Christ and thinking on God's priorities.

Brian

ps. had to post something to complete my profile... :)  This Network stuff needs to spread!

Community Builder

Brian,

You'll be alright.  There will always be people who you feel you have to push or pull rather than lead.  Keep your integrity, so that when people don't "like" what you are doing, they can't fault your intention or what you are calling them to be.  Basically most people speak most loudly when they are afraid.  Angry voices often are scared voices.

TZ

P.S. I'm looking for free stuff too.....  ;-)

Community Builder

Brian,

I agree with the other posters so far. The only caution I have is that sometimes, when we get ornery, dig in our heals and push back at the congregation, saying things like, "They need to realise that they're the ones with the problem" we could well be heading into (if not already in the thick of) sin in our own lives. I think it IS important for us to have a healthy (but not guilt-ridden) self-examination when congregations raise these issues and ask ourselves some of the following questions:

<ol>

<li>Why do I preach as long as I do? Could I say the same thing in a shorter way, would it honour God to do so? Does it honour God that I speak as long as I do? Do I hamper the delivery of the Word of God by speaking for 30 min. (I have a preaching friend colleague who thinks that no on should preach longer than 18min.)</li>

<li>Why do we introduce new songs? How often do we introduce them? Are we introducing them just to be "attractive" to people from outside our church? Or are we introducing new songs to bring new life and perspective, etc.?</li>
</ol>

If we ask ourselves these kinds of questions and others in a healthy, not beating yourself up kind of way, then the angst that others express to us about "things they don't like" can actually lead us into deeper and better servant-leadership of the church. 

That doesn't mean that we have to approach the people who've made these accusations from the Matt. 18 perspective, as if we had sinned (unless upon self-examination we've found that we HAVE sinned). In fact, quite often if I personally examine myself and find sin relating to this kind of thing, it is quite often not the same kind of sin that I have been "accused" of committing. Certainly preaching "too long" or having "too many" new songs are not sins in and of themselves, per-se. But the motivations behind doing these things can be just as sinful as the motivations of those who cry "too many", "too much" or "I don't like it!" in the first place.

My advice is this: Humbly receive the criticism, saying thank you for talking to you, then share with them the purpose for the changes, and how this isn't about like or dislike but it's about ______________ (fill in the blank).

I would also recommend that, if your church hasn't done so already, you work with the Council to come up with a statement about what you believe worship to be, why you do what you do (or don't do what you don't do) and what kind of feedback is acceptable and/or unacceptable from the congregation.

We've done that in terms of worship. We've created a document (with the significant help of a sister church's previous work) relaying what worship is, what it looks like in our context and what we expect from the congregation in response to that. It doesn't get rid of all the complaining, but at least people have something to examine and "measure" a worship service against and measure themselves against too.

More long winded than I intended. Hopefully it was helpful nonetheless.

 

in His service,

 

Dan

@Todd,

We go back a long way together.  I appreciate your words and receive your encouragement.  I think 'fear' is rampant when 'change' happens.  So what 's been the best way to help those that are scared that you've deployed?  Something like what Daniel wrote and I've quoted or something else? 

@Daniel,

Thank you!  I am learning more about myself and how I handle things like this more now than ever in seminary.  Which is not to say that seminary is bad, it just doesn't prepare you to be targeted.  I must admit, the more I pray, the more God reveals that problems are closer than they appear.  A mirror is quite unkind.  At the same time, I find it difficult to balance the humble pie and the deep conviction that something needs to change.  Thank you for your words, "Humbly receive the criticism, saying thank you for talking to you, then share with them the purpose for the changes, and how this isn't about like or dislike but it's about ______________  ."  I will work at this...

Good discussion!  

Community Builder

Brian,

I think the healthiest thing to do whenever I've received a stinging comment or criticism is wait.  There have been times when someone has made me angry or hurt me with their words.  My best response to them has been no immediate response.  Take some time and walk away from the person so that you can take what they said and see if there is anything in what they said that perhaps you need  to listen to.  It also gives you the opportunity to ask yourself, "What is really going on here with that comment?  What makes that person give me such a criticism or complaint? 

Secondly, I surround myself with people from inside and outside the church whom I trust.  Those people don't always layer me with compliments, but they give me their honest feedback.  Most importantly, they want to see me succeed, not fail.  So any criticism is done with a desire to see me thrive and do well in ministry.  

It all looks so easy typed up on a screen, but its much harder to pull off when you are living it.

That's why I love the saying, "God hits straight with a crooked stick."

Take care,

TZ