Bill Campbell

Thoughts of Life and Ministry

AVOIDING THE NUISANCE OF NEGATIVITY

The failure of congregations to progress and move forward are numerous. Manifold. It would require numerous pages to describe the various reasons for congregational decline.

One major reason why congregations often fall into decline though stems from a most subtle and overlooked factor: abnormal negativity being in operation within a church fellowship. While negativity can emerge in any size fellowship, it will often occur in smaller congregations. With congregations that are more passive in their culture than they are active in ministry.

Certain members will begin to find fault with something that’s been said or not said; that’s been done or left undone. The supposed fault will be exaggerated. Blown out of proportion. Talked about to a point of exasperation. And like cancer it will grow like a rolling snow ball among a certain group who have been apprised of the supposed fault. The fault will then eventually be raised to a most unnecessary and highly elevated status.

Congregations fail to understand that such activities are highly dismantling. It damages a church on the inside. It nonetheless damages a church and its image among those on the outside. A church with negativity comes to inherit a reputation and image of being a fighting and feuding fellowship. People soon choose to avoid any connection with a church that’s like this. If I could portray its evil in the most effective way possible, I would refer to it as one of the, “sins of highly defective congregations.”

Problems like this need to be highlighted. Brought into the daylight. Exposed. But problems need solutions. Ways, that is, to avoid such a serious pitfall in congregational life. How may the evil of negativity be overcome?

  • By persons asking themselves, “am I part of the problem of negativity? In other words, have I fallen into this evil and subtle trap with others?”
  • By understanding that negativity is part of the devil’s strategy for disrupting a congregation’s unity.
  • By eliminating yourself from the circle of influencers who major in negativity.
  • By understanding that you are hurting the health and well-being of your congregation by being a  participant in negative messaging.
  • By recognizing and understanding that abnormal engagement in negativity is one of the “sins of highly defective churches.”
  • By acknowledging negativity as a growing problem in your life, and making a departure from it, along with asking for God’s forgiveness, as you seek a renewed pathway.
  • By planting positive seeds rather than negative seeds in the life of your congregation, as you develop a positive attitude with the use of your lips and life.

Negativity, I’m discovering, can easily become a lifestyle. A response to everything experienced. An ever developing attitude.  It can be initiated much easier than it can be eliminated. Only as we look to God for direction through Scripture and prayer, and come to see its evil in operation, are we able to make a departure from its evil ways.

I like the following words from an anonymous source: “A bad attitude is like a flat tire. You can’t go anywhere until you change it.”

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September 17, 2013 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Relationships, Service, Spirituality, The Devil, The Tongue | Leave a comment

THE MISSING INGREDIENT?

A frequent concern I hear from church folks is that public worship experiences today are disappointing. Depressing. A drag. For much of what goes on in Sunday services, I’m told, is highly predictable, lacks interest, and offers the worshiper little satisfaction and fulfillment.

This disappointing response to public worship may indeed be due to the nature of the services. That’s always a possibility. A strong possibility. But there’s another reason, often overlooked, for the disappointment. Simply stated, the disappointment may be due to the spiritual attitude and condition of the worshiper.

I’m discovering that many who attend public worship today do so for various reasons. Here are a few of them.

  • One reason is that the church goer is in the mood to attend church. I’m saying there are days when church worshipers will openly acknowledge that they should have stayed home in bed.
  •  A second reason why persons say they attend church is because of habit or tradition. Sunday for these persons is church day. Other days of the week are for other activities.
  • Reason number three relates to one’s spouse or family members. If a member of the family expresses a deep interest in attending church on a particular Sunday, that becomes the reason for going.
  • Another reason for attending church is to be entertained. They want their attendance to be worthwhile. It’s viewed as being like going to a movie or sporting event.
  • A final reason for attending Sunday worship is connected with fear. If the person fails to attend church on Sunday, he or she is afraid of being placed on God’s black list. Some congregations will even use the guilt factor to motivate individuals to attend Sunday worship.

Let me move my thinking toward what I believe is the ever growing missing ingredient in congregational  worship. In other words, why there’s such a bevy of mixed and confusing reasons and motivations for attending church.

Scripture’s major theme, I’m convinced, is glorifying and praising God. This suggests worship is an act of giving, and is not to be an attempt to get something. A worshiper isn’t attending church for any other reason than for ascribing praise and glory to the One who has delivered him or her from the curse and penalty of sin.

What would happen today in congregations if worshipers were there to give to God in place of attempting to receive something from Him? If worship was an expression of giving love and praise, and not just done out of some form of religious duty? It would definitely remove the temptation to appease God through  attempting to earn points of merit and popularity with Him?

Are you following the train of thought followed here? If so, are you open to being changed by the biblical understanding of worship? I’m endeavoring to point out for the reader that fulfilling worship, whether public or private, will necessitate a deep and growing daily relationship with God on the part of the believer.

Now allow me to be a bit more personal and direct. Is this ingredient missing in your own worship experience? Is it missing in the worship experience of your congregation?

September 7, 2013 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Spirituality | Leave a comment