Dealing With Church Politics & Offense : Church Staff Blog
Politics & Offense:
Most of us hate the idea of talking about politics, especially in our churches. It sometimes feels dirty to think about playing a game to advance your agenda. Often times the idea of church politics evokes thoughts about power struggles, manipulation, or a divisive way to get the job done.
If you have been around church long enough, you may at one point have felt like you were the victim of someone else’s manipulative techniques. I don’t want to minimize any experience you may or may not have had, but I would like to ask you to look at church politics from a different perspective.
What Does Scripture Say?
Proverbs 21:2 says “All deeds are right in the sight of the doer, but the Lord weighs the heart.” It’s pretty easy from our own perspectives to think every thought, every decision, and every action was the right step. Our motives feel good, and our ministry idea or event feels like it’s the best idea for our department. But only God can justly judge the secret motives and behaviors.
The next time you feel personally attacked, or feel like someone has gone behind your back, remember that they too feel like they are taking the right steps to solve a problem or to just “get the job done.” If the Bible holds true, and it says I too can’t accurately judge my own motives, then that means I probably won’t be good at judging others.
Dan Reiland wrote an article called “Church Politics” It states ” It’s rarely malice that drives the personal agenda. It’s more often good people who really believe that what they are doing (what they want) is right. The problem is that good people who are attempting to do good things lose sight of the big picture and begin to justify their part of the mission as THE MISSION.”
Changing Our Verbiage
Instead of focusing on a word as loaded as politics, I want to suggest that we use a new word, one that more accurately reflects the Gospel and thats relationships. Before we can have politics in the church we have to have relationships (good ones or unhealthy ones) no relationships, no politics. If we removed the word politics in our conversation and replaced it with relationships, we would hear ourselves saying things like this;
- “I don’t get involved in relationships at church”
- “Relationships have absolutely no place in our church”
- “Church relationships get really ugly.”
- “When it starts to get relational, I back away and take care of my own ministry”
Relationships always have a chance to get messy, but cutting ourselves off and becoming Islands is much worse. If fulfilling the Gospel requires me to have relationships with those I may not always agree with, I can practice what James taught (1:19-20) “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Did you catch that? The growth and power of holding back ones gut reaction, is providing room to listen, and to take in the feedback of others. That means we can’t be quick to assume everyone is against us, or that we are not appreciated. Remember what I said earlier, everyone thinks they are doing the right thing. Being slow to anger allows room for Grace. Even more so as leaders in the Body of Christ, we must assume a stance of Grace before judgment.
- Recognization of sin: The Bible makes it clear that we are all sinners and fall short of the Glory of God. That includes us seasoned saints. We still have room to grow, and we still make mistakes today. Recognize that and make room for others.
- Application of Scripture: James 1:19 – 20 makes it clear how we need to conduct ourselves as leaders. Quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.
- Check Your Pride: In the situation that one of us is in the wrong it’s been said that “accountability feels like and attack when you’re not ready to acknowledge how your behavior has harmed others.” God is in the business of restoring relationships, but that can’t happen if Pride and Ego are allowed to distract you from the Gospel of Grace. We are all accountable to someone, none of us are self contractors with absolute authority. Make sure you’re living a life where the anointing of God can flow top down. Otherwise you will experience disappointment like Esau and Saul who lost it all.