This is a difficult subject.
Congregations getting angry at one another. Fighting about … anything. The color of the auditorium carpet? The color of the preacher’s tie? The youth group painting the church fence (without permission)?
Sometimes there is unrest about something that does make a difference such as a moral or doctrinal issue. (However, it would be interesting to take a survey of the causes of church splits … whether a split was for a non-consequential issue or one that’s important. I could make a guess, but I won’t.)
Because people are people with sin natures and churches are made up of those sin natures, things can get very, very ugly. This family walked out because they didn’t like the song someone sang at the ladies tea. This man got angry because no one gave him a copy of the morning’s schedule (except they did). This lady left the church (and dragged her family with her) because someone else started going to the same hair salon she did.
Seriously, these are all REAL cases.
But the nature of the situation is not what I’m concerned about in this post. What I’m thinking about is the kids.
Because often they’re forgotten in the middle of the battle.
Yet God’s Word says …
Proverbs 16:7 – When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Proverbs 19:11 – Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
Ephesians 4:29-5:4 – Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. …
Colossians 3:13 – Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
James 1:19 – Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
So I was thinking …
*As parents, we can stay as uninvolved as we possibly can. Even if we liked the blue carpet will it truly affect our faith if the deacons choose brown? Let’s chill. Carpet color is not the point of attending church and I’m fairly sure those churches back in the New Testament didn’t even have carpets.
*As parents, even if we are involved in whatever is going on, we can keep our kids away from the conversations. We can choose not to talk about the issue while the kids are present. Back when everyone had landlines, this wasn’t so easy, but with cellphones, we can walk outside or into another room so kids don’t overhear things.
*As parents, we can still allow our kids to hang with the kids of the people on the “other side” of the issue. Even if you don’t agree with the Smiths about style of music, your kids can still play on the same ball team. These are the ramifications that truly puzzle kids. How come that friend that was always welcomed to their house before is no longer allowed to come over and play? After all you’ve taught your kids about kindness and forgiveness and grace, they won’t understand why they can no longer be friends with the kids they’ve been friends with since church- nursery days.
*As parents, we can pray for wisdom that we’ll be an example to our kids in the way we handle the situation.
*As parents, we can pray together with our kids that God will be glorified in the situation and that people will forgive each other.
*As parents, we can be slow to leave the church. Why not wait it out and be part of the solution rather than part of the problem? (I remember one mom telling me, “Our son was never the same after we changed churches. First Church had a youth group he loved, and friends that he enjoyed. He never got that back and eventually stopped attending at all.)
*As parents (depending on the age of our kids), we might have to give a brief explanation of what is happening especially if it’s a moral or doctrinal issue where someone (maybe their own teacher) is asked to step down from a position. But even then, we can speak with kindness and not call anyone names or be disparaging.
*As parents, if we do decide to leave the church, we can talk with our kids about what’s happening, using gracious words devoid of gossip and bitterness. We can give our kids opportunity to have a say in the new church we choose. (That doesn’t mean they have the ultimate decision, but if some of their friends from school attend another Bible-centered church in town – that might be a good start.)
*As teachers, we can stay as neutral as possible so children see no difference in our demenor.
*As teachers, we can refuse to get into whispered conversations with other teachers or parents in the doorway or in back of the classroom.
*As teachers, we can pray for wisdom, asking the Lord to help us be an example to the kids even in this difficult situation.
Too often the kids are forgotten when the adults are arguing, but caring about the kids should be one of our top priorities.
We must circle around them, giving them attention (they know when things aren’t right), care, and reassurance. We must have the discussions that are needed. We must teach them that people fail, but Christ doesn’t fail, and our confidence in Him should never, ever waver.
Remember what Paul wrote to the church at Colossae.
Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.