Friday, 21 August 2015

Why Can't Churches Deal With Disagreement?

Yesterday I sat in the school car park being entertained by the behaviour of the man who had desperately wanted to be 'king' at my ex-church. He had to walk right past my car to get to his own, and I'm afraid I couldn't help laughing quietly at his determined attempts to appear unconscious of my existence. (On the upside, at least I find it amusing these days rather than deeply painful like I used to.)

For a moment, I contemplated winding down the window and asking him if he's ready to deal with things between us, but then I realised he'd probably just give his 'deer in the headlights' impression and walk away. I've pretty much given up hoping he'll ever meet with me to discuss (and deal with) the issues between us as I've come to believe he's not actually capable of entering that space.

Needless to say, I found it extremely interesting to read an article this morning which talks about the need to make difficult conversations a part of everyday 'church' life.

Churches, Covenants & Hard Conversations.

The author, John Pattison, talks about the wedding of friends which he recently attended. He shares:
"When they got married, my two friends made a covenant with each other, before God and their community. That covenant doesn’t exempt them from difficult conversations — it sanctifies those conversations. The covenant relationship binds them together, even during the inevitable hard times. Their covenant keeps them mutually accountable to the health of the relationship. And it makes it safe to disagree, even profoundly disagree…because they know the other person isn’t going anywhere."
He then suggests that this same approach is what we should be aiming for when it comes to relationship in the church family - that "having hard conversations needs to be part of the day-in-day-out life of a Christian community."

This is obviously a man who understands the importance of engaging together, even when it's uncomfortable. And he comprehends the necessity of the church being a safe place for that to happen. I felt like standing up and applauding!

Because sadly, my experience in various churches has generally been typified by the "my way or the highway" approach. It's certainly what happened in my ex-church where I was 'advised' to submit or resign. What they were saying in effect was, "You either shut up, or you leave. There's no place in this church for anything other than compliance with our will." And as this seems to be a fairly common reality, I can only lament that John Pattison's view of things seems neither widely shared nor highly regarded in the institutional church.

But it also leaves us with the question of why churches can't seem to deal with disagreement? Why do they too often mistake uniformity for unity? And why do so many seem to worship this supposed "unity" at the cost of relationship?

I am not suggesting I have the answer to that dilemma, but I do wonder how much it has to do with the fact that the IC system perpetuates the mindset that "some animals christians are more equal than others"... and that it's the 'more equal' ones get to set the agenda. Thoughts?

(Just for the record, when the author uses the word, "covenant", I am reading a heart attitude, not a legal document.)


  1. Living Liminal writes, It leaves us with the question of why churches can't seem to deal with disagreement? Why do they too often mistake uniformity for unity? And why do so many seem to worship this supposed "unity" at the cost of the relationship.

    The answer to the our question of Why Can't Churches Deal With Disagreement? is quite simple: Because our Churches are basically out of agreement with the Word and Will of God on how and why the sheep of His pasture are to come together as the Bride of Christ.

    It's a structural reality that imposes itself over the body---this idea of a ruling elite who assumes to possess spiritual authority over the church, over other members of the body.

    Let me say from the outset: Any Member of the Body of Christ, Outside of our Lord and Savior Jesus, Who Makes Himself Head of an Ekklesia---has by default of this rebellion, made himself an enemy of Christ and His Sheep; He has become a Wolf and a Priest of the Whore of Babylon. This is the Lupine Effect of ecclesiastical spiritual authority.

    And please understand, one of the daughters of the Whore of Babylon is the Goddess Circe, a cruel sorceress who turns men into animals. Note: the derivation of our word "Church" comes from this mistress "Circe." She's a sorceress leading the world astray by her magic and the wine of the passion of her whoredom.

    And the Institutional Churches are daughter systems of the Antichrist in respect to their call for obedience to supposed Heads of the Body outside Christ.

    For Jesus Christ is the only Head of the Church. And we are all brother and sisters and members of one another. Precisely "that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another" (1 Cor 12:25).

    The first sentence to Walter Wink's Unmasking the Powers reads:

    One of the best ways to discern the weakness of a social system is to discover what it excludes from conversation.

    Whatever threatens that social system's survival (by spirit and logic of it's self-preservation) needs to be put down, needs to be asked to leave, needs to be displaced by the ruling elders, by whatever name or not they go by.

    The relationship in the Church is one to itself, which is a perverse worshiping of the beastly whore and the Dragon who inspires and inflames her.

    Truth-tellers are always displaced from her, from the Body of the Whore. They have to be. There is no room for any truth that might threaten to dismantle her whole wicked system. It's madness, the murdering that goes on in these animal farms. They've drunk from Circe's cup and now have lost discernment and knowledge of who and whose they really are. Sheep turning into wolves. And worse.

    We're to come out of her, out of Babylon, out of the IC, out of the domain of the Dragon (Rev 18:4).

    Here's something from William Webster on your thoughts:

    The promotion of unity at the expense of truth is satanic; it is demonic; it is not true unity. It is not the unity of the Holy Spirit for He is the Spirit of Truth. The Scriptural command which we have in Ephesians to promote the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace is given to those who have a common foundation of truth. Truth by its very nature divides. Where you have appeal to unity at the expense of truth all you can produce is uniformity.

    1. "Where you have appeal to unity at the expense of truth all you can produce is uniformity."

      What a telling statement! That's certainly been what I've observed. Thanks Monax :)