Thursday, September 11, 2014

the Three P's or What I learned at BNC

Recently I was fortunate enough to attend a round table with some friends of mine at Brand New Church in Harrison AK.
Brand New Church has a great story and a passionate Pastor. Pastor Shannon O’Dell was called by God to leave a mega church and take the position of Pastor at a small church in AK. You can read about it in his book, Transforming the Church in Rural America. It’s a book that I recommend highly.

Early one morning a couple weeks ago I found myself in Kelly’s truck with him and Nate on our way to sit in at the round table and meet Pastor Shannon.
Graham, and Jeremy were following in Graham’s truck because Kelly was going to stay and fly fish the next day and were were going to ride home with them.

The round table was great, I learned several things from the people I met and the people that spoke.
The church was nice and had several creative elements that I know we can duplicate which is always a plus to visiting other churches.

After the round table we were standing around and Kelly was asking what we each got to take home from this trip and that is what I’d like to write about today.

During part of his talk Dr. Claude Thomas had mentions that when problems fights and contention spring up in the church that there are 3 things that a person hurt by a church or church member should do.

As a man who’s main narrative for the first 33 years of my life was largely about being hurt by churches. Whether they were actual wrongs or perceived wrongs time has worn the edges off so much I honestly don’t know anymore but I do know that Dr Thomas’ suggestions would have helped in several cases.

I am calling the steps the Three P’s. 

The three P’s will help me and I pray they help you too next time you feel slighted by your church or by someone in authority in your church. The goal of the three P’s are to keep you in the “Pod” of your church.
It’s ridiculously easy to get hurt and then to leave a church that has hurt you. If I were to draw a diagram of all the churches I attended as a child/teen/young adult it would look like a spirograph.
Many times our line returning to a church that we had left years before over some incident or another.

The First P is Process  "For by wise counsel you shall wage your war: and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 24:6

What this means is to take your issue and seek the council of other Christians. This isn’t to gossip but to get true unbiased council from another believer. If you are starting out running down the person/people/church that hurt you you are already coming at this from a bad angle and you need to reevaluate and start again.
"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old". Isa 43:18 
Bad things had happened to Israel at this point and bad things were still to come but this was God’s word to them about processing it and moving forward in Him.

I know that being hurt is going to take some time to get past the anger and get to a real place where you can talk to someone and process the hurt.   You may feel like running, like leaving the church but that is not what God wants from you.  God wants you committed to a body of fellow believers. We are the body of Christ and while a hand for instance can still function without a finger it is better suited with all its digits intact.

My Pastor, Kelly Rhoades has an excellent blog post about the subject of deciding to leave a church that I recommend you all read located here.

The first  P   Processing  will help you see the issue thru someone else eyes.  As well as give you a chance to vent. Keep the conversation on the current hurt and not other things you “don’t like” about the person, place or thing that hurt you.
"A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels." Proverbs 1:5
That is Counsels plural so talk to several people, don’t limit it to one or two. Odds are it will take 2 or 3 just for you to get over the initial anger and not just verbally vomit vicious rhetoric. 

I know in my case after talking to others that even the thinnest pancake has 2 sides and I could have handled things better. 

So talk it out, pray and Process the hurt. Don’t ignore it and don’t run from it. Ignoring it will only cause you to heal slower.

the Second P is for Perspective.  "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right." 2 Tim 3:16

Get a biblical perspective on the situation.  Hopefully those you talked to in step one have already started you in that direction but turn your reading light on and get in the Bible.

The more you read the more you will know God’s heart.  You need’t even search the Bible for individual cases that you think mirror yours.  The Bible was written by God and like Jesus calmed the storms (Luke 8:24) that threatened the disciples God will use his EVERY WORD to calm your heart, mind and soul.
The more hurt you are the more you need this closeness with God.

The 3rd P is for Plow on   "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Phil 3:12-14

Get over it and get on with your service. You aren't the first person to have their feelings hurt and you won’t be the last. I have been a pretty active member of my church for 2 and a half of the 3 and a half years I have been attending and I have had my feelings hurt, my toes stepped on and my theology questioned but I move on. 
"Honor one another above yourselves."  Ro 12:10
That doesn’t say do it only if you feel honored either.

We are expected by God to forgive each other sometimes however we "forgive" but we hold a grudge and pull ourselves out of the work.  We resign ourselves to our pews and stop working to spite some one(s) for hurting us. We backbite and gossip about what happened to us.  If you started out doing that or are doing it up to this point it is over as of now. Again I quote "Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old." Isa 43:18
Once you hit the third P you get back to work if you did take a pity break.  
We are called to love one another and just like in a biological family we are going to fight but that doesn’t mean you stop being a brother or a sister  
More than likely you have hurt someone in your own life and stand guilty in their eyes so suck it up and get to serving. 

Church isn’t about you and your feelings.

There you have it. I hope this helps, I’m sure I could write a blog on each of the P’s but this truncated version will have to do. It’s given me something to study and to think about and I am always thankful to God for that. 

At your service.

Alan







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