5 Mistakes During Conflict

I’m currently reading a good book entitled Redeeming Church Conflicts: Turning Crisis into Compassion and CareTara Klena Barthel and David V. Edling do a great job in the book defining conflict and uncovering what the Bible says we should do when conflict arises.

In the first chapter, they shared five mistakes that most people make when conflict happens. These mistakes are the beginning of a tragic downward spiral.

5 Mistakes People Make During Conflict

1. We think our evaluation of the situation is always right. I’ve made this mistake and you have as well. It’s easy and natural to do, but it’s not best to do. In order to resolve conflict, we must be open to listen to the “other side” and be willing to consider that we are not totally right on the issue.

2. We treat people differently than God treats us. God treats us with love and grace. He forgives us when we don’t deserve it. During conflict, we often treat the other person with contempt and disrespect which leads us to disdain their perspective.

3. We assume that God is on our side. Although we may accept that those on the other side of the conflict are believers, we believe that we uniquely have God’s attention, care, and blessing more than our opponents do.

4. We become defensive. As soon as we become defensive, we become closed and narrow. We believe that God takes our side on the issue and condemns those on the other side of the conflict in the same way that we do.

5. We are marked by pride and selfishness. These characteristics are not from the Lord. Instead, Christ wants us to be marked by humility and love which leads toward reconciliation.

Conflict is a normal part of life. No one is exempt! But, as believers, God calls us to respond differently than the world and to DO OUR BEST to resolve the conflict.

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Romans 12:18 (NKJV)

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2 Ways to Eliminate Hurry

Speed Limit.25One of the great books on spiritual disciplines is John Ortberg’s book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted:  Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People.  You can read my review of the book by clicking here.

One of the spiritual disciplines he talks about in the book is the practice of “slowing.”  Have you ever thought about “slowing” as a spiritual practice?  One of his mentors told him that if he wanted to grow spiritually that he must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from his life.  Listen to a great quote from his book:

Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day.  Hurry can destroy our souls.  Hurry can keep us from living well….Again and again, as we pursue spiritual life, we must do battle with hurry.  For many of us the great danger is not that we renounce our faith.  It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it.  We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.

Most of us battle the hurry sickness, but how can we treat it–how can we cure it?  There are two main practices that can help us swim against our culture’s current of hurry.

2 Ways to Eliminate Hurry from Our Lives

1.  Slowing.  Slowing involves cultivating patience by deliberately choosing to place ourselves in positions where we simply have to wait.  Slowing will seem like such a “waste of time,” but it is invaluable.  Here are some examples.  Deliberately drive in the slow lane.  Chew your food slowly.  Get in the longest check-out line at the grocery store.  Go through an entire week without wearing a watch.  Read each sentence slowly–then read it again even more slowly.

2.  Solitude.  Solitude is a more traditional spiritual practice.  I’m not saying that we should take it to the extreme and join a monastery.  I’m just saying that solitude is the one place where we can gain freedom from the forces of society that will otherwise relentlessly mold us.  When we’re “alone” with God–He molds us!

We need some small measures of solitude every day.  A walk, a run, a short drive, working in the yard, sitting in the car before going into the office, a quiet time–all these serve as moments of solitude.  On occasion, we need longer periods of solitude.  Take an afternoon to yourself or even an entire day.  Go to a place where you will be uninterrupted and alone.  Spend the day relaxing, reading, walking, napping, etc.

Both of these practices have been vital to my spiritual growth and to my ability to hear from God.  By the way, if you haven’t read John Ortberg’s book on spiritual disciplines, you must do so.  Here’s a link to Amazon where you can purchase the book and get started.  I wish I had read this book as a new Christian and learned about the practice of “slowing” and many of the other spiritual disciplines that have helped me to grow in recent years.

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2015 Shepherding

Shepherding 2015Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”  1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV)

I’m really excited about the 2015 SHEPHERDING conference being held at a new Lexington location, Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa on January 29-31.  Baptist Health and the Kentucky Baptist Convention continue our long-standing partnership to provide an event that will bring a time of Godly refreshment to pastors, chaplains, and Directors of Missions.  The conference is being held at a NEW LOCATION this year, the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa, in an effort to provide a relaxed setting as well as a relaxed pace.  The hotel staff is among the best you will find in the business and we are grateful that they are hosting us for this year’s event.

As always, we should have a packed house again this year.  The lineup of presenters and worship leaders is outstanding.  Our featured speakers include:

  • Dr. Kevin Ezell (North American Mission Board)
  • Dr. Dan Summerlin (Lone Oak FBC, Paducah)
  • Rev. Tom James (Eastwood BC, Bowling Green)
  • Dr. Carl Hurley (America’s Funniest Professor)
  • Mike Harland (Lifeway Worship)

In addition to those above who share in the plenary sessions, we will hear from several other excellent presenters during our breakout sessions.  If you plan to attend, please register as soon as possible because we are almost at full capacity.  You can register online today!  If you have any questions, please contact me (Steve Rice) at (502) 489-3571 or toll free in Kentucky at (866) 489-3571.

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I Am A Church Member (Thom S. Rainer)

Church MemberThe last few months I have been serving as the interim pastor of one of our fine Kentucky Baptist Convention churches.  I celebrate that the church recently called a sharp, young pastor who will lead them well in the coming years.

My last four Sunday messages I am choosing to preach through the passages and main points that Dr. Thom S. Rainer makes in his helpful new book, I Am A Church Member.  In his book, Rainer revisits the Biblical responsibilities of those who are privileged to be members of a local church.  He encourages each church member to make the following five pledges:

  1. I will be a functioning church member.
  2. I will be a unifying church member.
  3. I will not let my church be about my preferences and desires.
  4. I will pray for my church leaders.
  5. I will lead my family to be healthy church members.
  6. I will treasure church membership as a gift.

Here’s a little sample from page 6 of Rainer’s book:

“God did not give us local churches to become country clubs where membership means we have privileges and perks.  He places us in churches to serve, to care for others, to pray for leaders, to learn, to teach, to give, and, in some cases, to die for the sake of the Gospel….Many churches are weak because we have members who have turned the meaning of membership upside down.  It’s time to get it right.  It’s time to become a church member as God intended.  It’s time to give instead of being entitled.”

Pick up a copy of this book today!  As a matter of fact, pick up several copies.  They can be purchased from your Lifeway Store for $5 each when purchased in multiples of 20.  May the Lord use this timely book to renew our understanding of and commitment to God’s local church!

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7 Minutes and Counting

Stop-WatchToday, we continue talking about Nelson Searcy’s book Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church. Searcy titled chapter 3, Seven Minutes and Counting. In the chapter, he talked the importance of what happens to first-time guests during the first 7 minutes of their visit. He wrote,

 

Seven minutes is all you get to make a positive first impression. In the first 7 minutes of contact with your church, your first-time guests will know whether or not they are coming back. That’s before a single worship song is sung and before a single word of the message is uttered.

Common sense tells us that we never get a second chance to make a first impression, and unfortunately, first impressions are usually lasting impressions. If Searcy is correct in saying that guests are deciding whether they are coming back in the first 7 minutes, then the question becomes, “what’s actually being judged?”

Are they judging the building, the landscaping, the parking lot, the church sign, the entrance area, the lobby, the parking lot greeters, the door greeters, the bulletin? The simple answer is “YES“! They probably judge all those things, but keep in mind, they decide if they are coming back before they sing the first song or hear a word of the sermon.

As pastors, we usually spend a large portion of our week planning the worship service and preparing the message without being proactive in this important area. We should continue our practice of sermon preparation, but we should also give thought, time, and attention to helping our guests have a great first impression. As pastors, we should take the lead in this area.

In my next post, I will look at the 7-minute, first impression time Searcy refers to as the time “from the street to the seat.” Here are my other posts along these lines.

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The Key to Keep Church Guests Coming Back

fallsemester_serve2Let’s continue to look at Nelson Searcy’s rockin’ assimilation book, Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church. Today, we will look at God’s assimilation plan discussed in chapter 2.

But before we get into our discussion, let me encourage you to check out his blog and the free stuff that he is providing to help churches in their work for the Lord. Here are some helpful links to his website:

. . . . Now, on with the discussion. In chapter 2, Searcy wrote,

God has not only given us the responsibility of being hospitable to His guests, but He has also given us the perfect example of how to go about it. Jesus came to the earth to serve, not to be served. Throughout the New Testament, we see His examples of selfless service for those He had the opportunity to influence. And we’ve been left with the challenge of doing even greater things. When we serve our guests well, we reflect Jesus’ attitude and mindset toward them.

Although Searcy provided a thorough definition of assimilation in chapter 1, he sums up assimilation here as follows:

Assimilation is simply well-planned biblical hospitality through service. The head of our organization is the greatest server of all time. Doesn’t it follow that we should be the ultimate example of such service to our guests? With the right system in place, we can serve in a way that will truly touch lives for God’s kingdom.

For more details about  improving assimilation in your church, see the following posts:

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Great Book on Assimilation by Nelson Searcy

19_largeIn the next few posts, I am going to be discussing Nelson Searcy’s excellent assimilation book entitled, Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church. Searcy is the founding pastor of Journey Church in New York City and formerly served as the founding director of the Purpose Driven Community with Rick Warren at Saddleback Church. He has personally trained more than 20,000 pastors, church planters, and church leaders through Church Leader Insights.  I have been privileged to particpate in one of his 12-month coaching networks–I highly recommend it!

In chapter 2 of his book, Searcy discusses the concept of “biblical hospitality.” Here’s an excerpt:

The Church–your church–truly is a family expecting guests. And you should be ready to show them intentional hospitality when they arrive. While they are in your company, they need to feel comfortable and valued, no matter where they are in their spiritual development. When they leave, be proactive in giving them a return invitation they’ll be hard pressed to refuse. Your church is a representative of the bigger family of God. As you put a system in place to effectively integrate guests into the family, you will be able to fulfill part of the responsibility He placed on you when He prompted them your way. God is honored when you show your guests true biblical hospitality. . . . Assimilation is simply well-planned biblical hospitality through service.

I like the phrase “biblical hospitality” because it reminds us that being hospitable to others is biblical. When God sends guests to our church, He expects us to prepare for their visit, speak the truth in love, and minister to their needs. He expects us to meet them where they are, regardless of their level of spiritual maturity and move them closer to Christ.

As the church, we should put our best foot forward, treat our guests with kindness, and let people know we care.

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