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Faith Formation

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Q What can we do? Our congregation is blessed with creative and energetic leaders in ministries related to children, youth, worship, and seniors. But we also have two or three people who are vocally negative about these creative approaches, which has led one of these (volunteer) leaders to leave our congregation for a nearby church. I've heard of similar struggles in other churches, and it discourages me.

A Frankly, your question makes me want to weep.

I would guess that the fundamental issue here is not the negativity but the power it has been allowed to wield. Negative voices are just a normal part of life in communities. The problem occurs when congregations and their leaders allow these negative voices to wield the kind of power that drives others away. Often this happens when leaders are afraid of the negative voices, because fear suffocates the movement of the Spirit in congregations.

Many years ago I was serving as an elder. During a difficult discussion, one elder reported, “Brother X will leave our congregation if we decide to do A.” Brother X was the wealthiest person in the church. After a stunned silence, our pastor quietly said, “We are here to discern the Lord’s leading. If the Lord leads us to decide B and not A, we will pray that Brother X will find a strong new church in which to use his gifts.” After his comment, fear left the room, and godly wisdom took over.

Maybe your situation requires that kind of leadership.

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