As with most families, our church families are not without drama. Sometimes, the drama can turn into a full-blown soap opera. J. Lee Grady recently wrote a trending piece on the harm this kind of unnecessary drama has on churches and how you can avoid it.
“It's true: Church can be full of drama,” writes Grady. “It's especially hurtful if it involves malicious gossip, misunderstandings, misjudgments, blowups, adultery, jealousy, false accusations, suspicion, slights, financial schemes or church splits. I know people who dropped out of church completely because they ended up in a church soap opera. Their attitude today is cynical: ‘I love Jesus. I just don't like His people.’”
Can you relate? Have you ever been witness to this kind of harmful, hurtful behavior in the church? (Or, conviction time—ever been a part of it yourself?) If church drama is something you’ve experienced in the past, here are three tips for avoiding it in the future.
1. Don't worry about what others say about you. This is really hard to do, but crucial, particularly if you’re in any type of leadership in your church. “Not everyone is going to celebrate you; some people will ignore you,” Grady writes. “And if you volunteer to lead anything, you will be rejected and criticized from time to time. So what? Get over it!” Of course, we need to be open to criticism, but try to focus on the people that seek your improvement and are not trying to just wound you.
2. Mind your own business. Want to be known as a man or woman of integrity? Then keep out of other people's business. Grady reminds us of Proverbs 26:17, which says, “Like one who takes a dog by the ears is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him.” What do you think a dog is going to do if you grab him by the ears? He will probably snap or bite at you. Better to let other people handle their own problems then get sucked into them.
3. Change the channel. Reading into people’s actions and worrying about what others think is a great way to make yourself miserable. “If you are being weighed down by the petty things people say and do, don't waste any more emotional energy obsessing over them,” says Grady. “Forgive quickly, pray for the people involved, be a peacemaker instead of a troublemaker, fix your eyes on Jesus, and let Him deal with the drama.”
Crosswalk contributor David Burchett has this to say about the power of gossip and the drama it creates. “If the founding church fathers had added an 8th Deadly Sin, I would nominate gossip. I have seen the devastating effect that gossip has in the church…Gossip is a parasite that requires a host organism to survive.”
The only way to get rid of this “parasite,” Burchett says, is not to give it a place to live. “If I am not part of the situation, or a part of the solution, I should not be talking about it.”
So- what do you think? What are your best strategies for avoiding church drama?
Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve.com.