5 Tips for Broken Relationships

Church planting is still one of the most effective ways to make disciples. New church plants baptize twice as many converts per attendee than existing churches (McNichol, 1991).  Jesus called the local church to make disciples of all nations. Those orders from the Head of the church motivate pastors to start churches all over the world.

Where many planters fail to prepare is the enemy attack as they lead others to follow the Great Commission. Relational casualties will come with close friends, board members, core group participants, and treasurers, and sometimes from their own children. The Apostle Paul speaking to the elders in Ephesus said, “From among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29 ESV)

Five Tips to Handling Broken Relationships

“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.” (James 1:19-20 ESV)

1. Be Slow to Speak. Make a decision not to react without thinking. People make foolish comments all of the time. A friend confronted me about something I did, and my response was that I had no idea why I did that. I did not have malice or intent, and my actions were completely contrary to my value system. I didn’t make excuses (oh, I had a few), and I didn’t attack his actions. Instead, I asked forgiveness, and he extended it immediately.

2. Filter Your Emotions of Anger Through the Gospel. Nothing sets the Gospel aside quicker than loss of control in anger. When I am angry, I focus on how God responds to my ongoing sins and transgressions and idols. I often wonder why He puts up with me. I am convinced that He loves me more than I love myself and that He is full of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. I do sinful things, God forgives me, and the ministry of reconciliation is exercised. I am both reconciled and am called to be a reconciler (2 Cor. 5:18-19; Rom. 5:10-11).

3. Be Quick to Hear. Deal with the conflict quickly. It is awkward to address it later, and it seems Satan puts a wedge deeper between friends with every passing hour a conflict is left to simmer. Letting the sun go down on our anger gives the devil an opportunity to gain an advantageous position in our relationships that creates bitterness (Eph. 4:26-27).

4. Avoid Texts and E-Mail Responses. The offended or offending party needs to hear the tone of your voice. I responded to one man’s angry text by saying that I had forgiven him and that comments taken out of context and without the associated compassion and my personal grief for the outcome of the offense are rarely (ever?) understood rightly in digital format.

5. Acknowledge Your Role in the Conflict. One person can stir up trouble in a family, a church, or a relationship, but they often drudge up other’s ancillary actions and words to deflect their own sin. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. Sinful people blame-shift. Nevertheless, be quick to acknowledge your role in the conflict even though it rarely justifies their sinful actions. It never benefits to hide our weaknesses and our indifference toward others.

References

Bruce McNichol, “Churches Die With Dignity,” Christianity Today, January 14, 1991, 69. Quoted by Aubrey Malphurs, Planting Growing Churches for the Twenty First Century (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992), 43.  

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Scott Thomas
Used with permission from Scott Thomas, the director and Chairman of Acts 29 Network, a non-profit church planting organization of missional reformed churches.