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October 12, 2011

I’ve recently been working on finishing our local church’s Statement of Faith and Bylaws, which has been a wonderful devotional exercise, to help us move into a more formal state from a loose grouping of believers.  And during the process I discovered a valuable resource at “Peacemaker Ministries” in the form of their Relational Commitments which I tweaked a bit to match-up with our church’s DNA.  It is a bold document that in my mind sets forth a biblical model that creates clear guidelines of how a community of believers should behave and interact, especially in the domain of conflict.  One of our members’ first reaction was that the group would have a hard time approving it.  Why?

You would have to read the PDF yourself, but the clear tracing of how conflict between Christians should be resolved makes modern believers uncomfortable.  Excuse me, but at times it seems to me that the church has become a sort of social club instead of the reconciled people of God advocating a new Kingdom that the Bible seems to teach.  We could add another 50 adjectives to describe what the Church as the Bible sees it to be, but I’m pretty sure social club isn’t one of them.  And yet, modern believers struggle with accountability and correction, accusations of “being controlling” begin to fly once a church leadership speaks up about behavior.  Eugene Peterson once described discipleship as “long obedience in the same direction.”  Long obedience suggests discipline, discipline to stay the course and not leave it.  John Donne wrote that “no man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…” and I really don’t see a way that a man or woman of God can master the long obedience without accountability.  And yet, when that accountability is applied, many modern believers flee, going to another church (or none at all) crying “foul.”  This just opens a can of worms because everyone is hurt and now rumors & back-biting abound.

In my mind’s eye there is little difference between believers who will forbid speaking in tongues and those who will feint the biblical model of conflict resolution, both are unbiblical and both need to return to the biblical texts that we are called to be obedient to.


From → Local church

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