Parents, Stop Raising Quitters

I stood with my mouth wide open at the baseball field. It was a moment of both shock and sadness. Our son’s baseball team was determining if we were going to forfeit the next game because the team we were playing was better than us. Forfeit a game because we might get beat (“humiliated” was the word actually used). My heart sank for these boys who had given their all this baseball season. My stomach churned because of the lessons that were being taught. Lessons like quitting, giving up, and you aren’t as good as the other guys (talk about a self-esteem drainer).

What has happened to us in America? What have we become as coaches and parents? What will be the implications of this type of parenting/coaching on our children in the future? Only time will provide the answers to these questions, but I think we might see a generation that will grow up to become pansies who can’t handle difficult situations. They won’t know how to take on challenges. When things get tough, they will just quit. They will have low self-esteem because they will constantly be comparing themselves to others who are better than them.

Parents, WE HAVE TO STOP THIS! Out of all the parents standing there, I was the only one to speak up and say, “Play the game!” Some people might wonder why I spoke up to play a game that we might lose, but there are greater lessons to be learned than simply winning baseball games. Here are four lessons that we teach our children when facing difficult situations where they might lose:

  1. Our children will work to get better. A fact of life is that there are people in the world who are better than us. I am a pastor, and I know other pastors who are better than me. I enjoy doing CrossFit, and I could give you a list of people who are better at CrossFit than me. I am a PhD student, and I know some students who are much smarter and better writers than me. Guess what? Just because people are better than me, doesn’t mean I don’t preach, CrossFit, or study for my PhD. It actually does the opposite. These people push me to get better in life. To put it in context, let your children do things in life where people are better than them because that will actually make them become better. If we shelter our kids from people who are better we are planting soil for them to grow into pansies who can’t handle life’s challenges.
  2. Rally the troops for victory. One of the biggest problems in our American society is that we make decisions based upon our perceived results. I only know of one being who knows the future: God. The coaching group was making an assumption that we not only were going to lose, but also that we had already lost. We haven’t played the game yet, so we don’t truly know the outcome. However, nobody remembers when the powerhouse beats the underdog, but everyone talks about when the underdog beats the power house. Why? Because on any day, the game starts at zero and can be won by either team. Think of all the great movies based on true stories like Rudy, Remember the Titans, or The Pistol. We remember and celebrate when David beats Goliath. When our children take on difficult situations, victory is sweeter when they have to work even harder to earn it.
  3. A lesson on humility. Sometimes the opposite might happen. Our children may get beat by a better team. May I let you in on a little secret? Sometimes you and your children are going to get beat at something in life. Our kids aren’t going to get a job or a promotion or an award, and that’s life. Welcome to the world. If we don’t teach our children now how to deal with getting beat, our children are going to walk around like arrogant people. However, their arrogance will prevent them from dealing with being defeated. As a result, their lives will turn out to be disastrous. Do we really wonder why our children are dealing with certain behavioral disorders? Maybe we should look in the mirror and see that we have not trained them how to deal with getting beat in this world.
  4. A lesson about self-confidence. I still think this old saying has some truth to it, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose it’s how you play the game.” As a competitor, winning and losing does matter. However, these outcomes are not the ONLY thing that matters. We want to teach our children to fight and compete, but we don’t want to make life only about winners and losers. We want to teach children that no matter the outcome as long as they gave everything they had they should hold their heads high. This could apply to any results that our children bring home. When our kids bring a report card home and it has a “C” on it, we ask, “Did you do the very best you could?” Their answer determines their self-confidence. As long as they are giving their “very best,” we are proud of them and tell them to keep their head up. Of course, we coach them to move beyond what they “think” their best is, but we still believe that their work ethic and willingness to take on a difficult task is a reason for building their confidence.

To conclude this story, I’m proud to say that the boys stood up and said, “WE WANT TO PLAY!” That moment my heart went from sinking to jumping and my stomach went from churning to whirling with excitement. Parents, we must allow our children to face some difficult scenarios in life because these situations will teach them valuable lessons.

Are there any additional lessons you would like to add? Please feel free to share them in the comments section to encourage others.

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So, You Had a Bad Preaching Day? Here Are 4 Ways to Bounce Back

It never fails. Some Sundays you walk down from the pulpit thinking the Holy Spirit’s power was with you in that sermon. You captured the audience’s attention. Your exegesis of the Scripture seemed faithful to the text. Your illustrations connected the biblical text with the lives of your listeners. You walked away with confidence knowing that the Holy Spirit helped you through the difficult task we call preaching.

It never fails. Some Sundays you walk down from the pulpit in shame. You felt like you were forcing yourself to finish that sermon. You were beating yourself up as someone within the congregation walked by saying, “I really enjoyed that sermon, preacher.” Deep down you felt like you should be apologizing to them for not being on top of your game. You replay the sermon over and over all day in your head. Something just wasn’t right, and you didn’t feel the same power of the Holy Spirit like you had in the past.

Many preachers can identify with both of these scenarios. To be honest, I have dealt with these in my small preaching tenure. The good news for all of us is we are not alone. We have the best news in the world. We have the life changing news found only in Jesus Christ. However, many of us can become fearful when we have “bad preaching days” because we know eternal life could hang in the balance for some people sitting under our teaching.

No matter how long you have been preaching, I am sure you could tell gobs of stories about each of these scenarios. My purpose in writing this post is to help you recover from these days where you felt that something wasn’t right. Here are four ways we can bounce back from bad preaching days in ministry:

  1. Remember God is sovereign. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves as preachers. We arrogantly think our sermon delivery is the true source of power. I think we might be adopting the American Dream in our preaching approach. God doesn’t need us. He decides to use us, but he doesn’t need us. Our preaching is not dependent on ourselves. Our preaching is dependent on God to work and act in our frailty as his redeemed children. You think you had a bad day. Your delivery couldn’t be any worse than Jonah’s sermon, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4)! Yet, God used this rinky dink sermon from a bitter prophet to save an entire nation! God is sovereign, and we need to remember that God will work just as much in the good days as he will in the bad days of our preaching.
  2. Pray for next week. Sometimes I think God lets his preachers have bad days because it reminds us of our dependence on him. How many of us become more reliant on our gifts rather than the Gift Giver? I think there are many reasons we have bad weeks (lack of preparation, not taking care of our bodies, unrepentant sin, not managing our calendars, family issues, etc), but after a bad sermon, we can begin to pray for God’s help for the following week. A bad preaching day should make us yearn for God’s power through his Holy Spirit the next time we preach. Therefore, we recover from bad preaching by praying.
  3. You are your worst critic. We know what we meant to say. We know what we wanted to say. We know whether the divine unction was or wasn’t there. However, the people in the pew have no idea most of the time. We have to remember that for many of them this is the first time they have seen this text or heard this message. People in the pews are simply trying to process what you are saying. We are overly critical on ourselves because we take our calling seriously, and we should! We need to remember that while we always strive to get better at our calling, we can be our own worst nightmares in our preaching ministry. Get better by examining your preaching, but your people aren’t critiquing you as hard as you are critiquing yourself. To put it another way, aim to be the best preacher for God’s glory, but don’t overly criticize yourself when you have an off day. God’s grace is greater!
  4. God’s Word always works. For faithful preachers of God’s Word, this should be our most encouraging way to recover after experiencing a bad preaching day. As Coach Boone said in Remember the Titans, “[My six plays] are just like Novocaine; give them time, and they always work.” God’s Word is just like Coach Boone’s six plays. Preach it as faithful as you can even on a bad preaching day, and God’s Word will do all the work. His Word is alive, active, piercing and discerning (Heb 4:12). His own Word says that it will not return to him void (Isa 55:11). While you may have had a bad preaching day, God’s Word never has a bad day. Stay faithful and his Word will get the work done.

As preachers, we need to remember that we are not perfect. Our task is to point people to the perfect One. This reality of our frailty means we are going to have bad preaching days. Hopefully, we have more good ones rather than bad ones. Nevertheless, when we do have bad ones, I pray that you will come back to this post to remember God’s goodness by reflecting on these four ways for recovering after the preaching event.

Are there any additional ways you recover from bad preaching days that are not mentioned? Please feel free to share them in the comments section to encourage others.

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Sticky Teams by Larry Osborne: A Must Read for Church Leaders

Larry Osborne. Sticky Teams: Keeping Your Leadership Team and Staff on the Same Page. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010. 221 pp. Paperback. ISBN 9780310324545. $16.99.

A few months ago, I was sitting down with one of my pastor coaches, and he mentioned that I needed to read Sticky Teams by Larry Osborne. For the record, I know this book is a bit on the older side for a book review, but I was fighting in Afghanistan as a Marine Officer when this book was published. The book maybe older in date, but the contents within this book are still applicable and relevant for any church leader today. This book review will summarize the contents of the book, make a few generic comments, and offer my recommendation. 

Osborne’s stated purpose for writing this work reads, “When faced with differing agendas and clashing perspectives that every team must work through, sticky teams know how to deal with the issues at hand and still come out united in purpose and vision, with a genuine camaraderie undamaged by strong differences” (p. 19). In order to substantiate this thesis, Osborne divides his book into four parts with part one being the foundation for the other three. 

Osborne begins with his essential concept of unity as the foundation for his work. He defines unity with three components: 1) doctrinal unity, 2) respect and friendship, and 3) philosophical unity (p. 28). Without these factors, our teams will quickly become disgruntled and ineffective. I highly recommend that you take your time reading the first two chapters of this book because if you miss this foundation, you will be unable to effectively implement the other three parts. Therefore–and I think Osborne would agree with me–unity of a team seems to be the main theme for which the rest of this book builds upon in the other three parts. 

Parts two, three, and four are the pragmatics associated with his ideological concept of unity. To put it another way, unity as the main thrust of his argument can be accomplished, maintained, and protected when we identify our own church organizational charts (Part 1), our ability to align everyone on our team (Part 2), and clearly communicate to our teams and people (Part 3). These parts will help you put meat on the bones of his unity concept. 

Osborne’s book will hopefully encourage you and get you to think about how to create unity on your leadership team. The versatility of this book should be highly noted. It does not matter if you are elder lead, deacon run (although this might be problematic biblically), staff lead, or board led, the contents presented in this book will help you think through and build unity with your leaders. The versatility of this book is probably the reason I was recommended to read it by my pastoral coach nine years after it was published. 

Additionally, Osborne discusses some “hot topic” issues for church leadership. My staff and I have had some great discussions talking about the concepts presented by the author. How do you handle staff salaries? How do you prioritize the various aspects of ministry? How do you know what organizations to support and what organizations to pass on when they ask for donations? What information about church members should a church leader know and not know? Osborne will let you know his position on each question, but he will not push his agenda on his readers. He will present his position and let you and your leaders determine how you will proceed with the information he presents. 

To some who are overly pragmatic, this might be a disappointing reality about the contents presented. Some pastors and leaders just want a “how to” manual for building leaders and teams. This book will not deliver on those expectations (the book is not meant to do that, by the way). You or your leadership team will have to decide how you will adopt these concepts in your current church setting. So, while some may see this as disappointing, I find it highly satisfying as a young church leader. Of course, Osborne gives some principles to use in dealing with fierce church battles, aligning staff, and making changes, but the tone of his writing is more recommendation rather than forceful intrusion on your leadership context and style. To me, this reflection is another strength. 

Therefore, I highly recommend that you get your hands on this book in the near future. If you have read it in the past, pick it up and read it again. This book is like mining for gold. The work is hard, but in the end you will be glad you got the shiny golden nugget. Osborne’s Sticky Teams will be a work I come back to on a yearly basis.

Amazon has this book available for $14.75

If you have a book you would like me to review, feel free to send me a message through this website. If you are an author of a current book and want some further publicity, contact me through the website and we can discuss you sending me a copy of your book to review and share.

Jeremy Bell

3 Concepts to Teach Children About the Easter Bunny

Our oldest daughter asked me a pointed question this week. She inquired, “Dad, why do people make a big deal about the Easter bunny? Isn’t Easter about Jesus?” I cannot begin to describe the feelings of joy that pierced my heart when this question left her mouth and infiltrated my ear canal. I was thankful she recognized the distinction between a biblical understanding of Easter with the cultural Easter norms being celebrated around us.

From the outset, I am not anti-Easter bunny guy. Please don’t accuse me of being like an Easter bunny Luddite. However, Christian parents have to think about raising our children by navigating the biblical and cultural meanings of special days like Easter. I want to provide you with three concepts that you should teach your children about the Easter bunny.

  1. The Easter bunny is not real. Some parents might think this is a harsh reality to teach their children. However, I think we should be honest with our children about the Easter bunny. Just because the Easter bunny is not real does not mean we can’t have fun participating in Easter egg hunts or taking pictures. We should allow our children to enjoy their imaginations, but we don’t have to connect their imaginations to biblical truth. In other words, we don’t make Easter about the Easter bunny. Rather we should make Easter about Jesus Christ. We need to highlight the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus to our children not a cute bunny. As we highlight Jesus, we can have fun with all the Easter festivities in our communities (I am indebted to John Piper for his discussion of Santa Clause in a recent podcast for my thoughts on this subject; see his comments here).
  2. Get into gospel conversations at community events. I will unashamedly admit that I use my children as “gospel bait.” The Easter bunny is a cultural conception to our neighbors and community who may not know the gospel of Jesus Christ. To put it another way, many people may not know that Christians have a different reason for celebrating and remembering what Christ has done for us on Easter, but many people in our communities and neighborhoods will gather to hunt eggs and see some poor soul dressed up in a white bunny costume. Teach your children that these are perfect events to share their faith and invite others to church. Training our children for cultural engagements and evangelism is another part of our instruction and raising them as faithful followers. You will be encouraged the first time that one of your children beats you at inviting someone to church. (I can’t wait for the day when one of our children invites the poor soul in the bunny costume).
  3. Make worship at a local church top priority. It amazes me that so many people can make plans to attend a neighborhood Easter egg hunt or find out where the cutest Easter bunny pictures will be taken and not make it to church. People will spend hours in the cold, rain, or sunshine to see their kids joyfully get eggs or take an Easter bunny picture, but they won’t spend an hour and fifteen minutes gathering with the body that was bought by the blood of Christ. We should teach our children that we can plan to have fun at these events, but Good Friday Services and Sunday morning worship gatherings are going to take top priority in our schedule. We remind them that the Easter bunny is not real, but we serve a risen and real Lord, Jesus Christ. We will devote our lives to Christ, and if it comes between a pretend Easter bunny and worshiping the resurrected Savior, we will choose the Savior every time.

I hope these three concepts are helpful as you seek to raise your children in our American society under the authority of God’s Word. By teaching our children that the Easter bunny is not real we are able to highlight the true meaning of Easter, which is Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection. As we keep Jesus at the center, we are able to have fun with our children, but teach them how to engage with the culture around them in a more biblical and faithful way. Work hard at teaching them to be little evangelists, but also faithful worshipers during this Easter season. 

Chan’s Letters to the Church Reviewed

Francis Chan. Letters to the Church. Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2018. 219 pp. Paperback. ISBN 978-0830776580. $16.99.

Francis Chan shocked the evangelical world when he stepped away from Cornerstone, a megachurch platform, and moved with his family to Asia. The shock was that Chan stepped away willingly not because of some moral failure or internal scandal. He walked away from the church he planted in 1994 because of a stirring in his soul. Out of the wake of this life-changing move, Chan has written this book to “point out areas where the Church is lacking” (p. 211). When Chan talks about pointing out the flaws of the Church, he primarily focuses his work on the church in America.

Chan’s book was written with a tone of complete humility. He does not want to condemn the church in America because he loves the church (p. 22). However, he loves the Bride of Christ with such passion that he desires to help point out some of the ways the church might be displeasing God from the Scriptures. Chan desires for any of his writings to be checked by the Word of God (p. 24). In other words, the author desires to bring to light issues while maintaining a posture of humility. His humility becomes more prominent by his own admittance that he contributed to some of the issues he points out in his book (p. 44).

The author begins by providing a theology of the church from Scripture. His main emphasis is on the church as sacred. As sacred, the Bride of Christ requires that all members are to be “devoted” (p. 55). The motif of devotion really drives the rest of his understanding of the church as a place of worship, but also as a family. The family dynamic of the church seems to be Chan’s emphasis in his newer model. The family dynamic he proposes is one of both love, unity, and service.

Chan concludes his book with a note to pastors, a theology of suffering, an empowerment of children and youth, and his model for church out of his reflections. Chan concludes with his “afterword” on killing pride from a posture of complete humility. Throughout the book a reader can sense the pain and the love for the church and the people within the church as he speaks this exhortation.

I admire Chan’s humility in this work. I think the church should always been in a posture of reformation or change (p. 190). Chan seeks to change the consumer mindset that has intruded into the Bride of Christ in America. He does present some problems that he has observed, and he provides a solution through his own model of ministry for those problems. We must not be resistant to change as the church because we are always changing to become more like Christ and more like the Scripture we hold as both innerant and authoritative. Chan doesn’t propose a one-size fits all model for the church, but a way to think about how to be a more biblical church in America.

While this book does well in presenting some of the problems within the church, I want my readers to be aware of two concerns I have with the content. First, sometimes Chan’s writing can be more experiential rather than biblical. I don’t want to downplay his theology because I think his view of the church is correct. However, he does posit his arguments for the church through many of his experiences overseas. His experiences seem to indicate that the persecuted church is better off than the church in America because of our freedoms. He creates this “fear of missing out” in America with his experiences. The Bride of Christ-no matter where it is located-has problems that are in need of change. We all must be cautious of elevating experience with special revelation-even unintentionally. The Bible explains and helps us understand our experiences and feelings.

Second, Chan concludes with what his new model of ministry looks like in the present. I think we must be careful to heed Chan’s warning that this is the way he is working at doing church, but he would not claim this as the ONLY way to do church. My concern is that some reading may scrap the whole church in America to do their own church design like Chan. Chan can do this because I think he is strong theologically, but I fear that others might launch this same model with a minimal understanding of theological clarity or accuracy leading to heresy. Some may be able to reform in new ways, but others might have to think through solutions to Chan’s observations in other methods for established churches. My question is, “Can we reform without abandoning ship?” I think we can by God’s grace and the power of the Spirit.

Nevertheless, this book is worth you to read. I would recommend it to any believer who wants to think more biblically about the church and the issues that are plaguing the church in America. May we prayerfully search the Lord, his Word, and be guided by the Spirit to change the consumerist mindset within God’s bride. May we become more unified in our congregations to reach more people in our communities and across the globe. I encourage you to read Chan’s work with an open mind and heart. Reform is needed, but the Scriptures are our standard for any reform.

Amazon has this book available for $13.72

No Answer; No Position

What is God teaching you?

As a leader within Christ’s church, I have one simple rule for anyone who serves alongside me. If you don’t have an answer when I ask you, “What is God teaching you?” you will be immediately let go. It sounds harsh, right? What if they are a great asset to the church? What will happen to their family? What will happen to their future in ministry? Those are great questions, but before anyone joins our staff, they will be forewarned ahead of time about this simple rule.

The reason for this rule is greater than how harsh you think this rule is. As elders, leaders, and pastors in the church, we better be growing and learning from the Lord daily. How can we expect to make disciples if we are not being disciples devoted to prayer, the Word, and worship ourselves? That would be like going to an obese trainer and saying, “Make me fit and healthy like you.” How can they train you to be fit and healthy if they are not fit and healthy themselves? The same concept applies to undershepherds, too.

Leading people for God’s glory isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it. However, leading people in the church mandates that you are being led by God first and foremost. Paul told the Church in Corinth, “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). Could you say that if you are not learning and growing in Christ? Leaders are by nature examples to those they lead. I want to ensure that those who serve alongside me are growing in their imitation of Christ so they can be examples to the disciples God has given us to steward. Therefore, this question is not harsh, but rather a means to help my staff be gospel-driven and effective leaders.


Leading God’s people requires leaders to be spending time with God as redeemed people.

I’m not the only one who has this type of rule either. At a preaching conference last year, I heard James Merritt make a similar statement about leading his staff. Francis Chan commented, “I once told my staff to let me know if they were not praying at least an hour a day. This way I could replace them with someone who would. I would much rather hire someone who prayed and did nothing else than someone who worked tirelessly without praying” (Letters to the Church, 113). Leading God’s people requires leaders to be spending time with God as redeemed people.

This rule is not only to help them be effective, godly leaders, but this question serves as a means to protect them from moral failure, also. We are seeing a massive amount of church leaders falling due to various moral failures. In my conversations with my mentors, I have seen a trend in moral failures of pastors. The trend seems to be a lack of daily time with the Lord. Make no doubt about it. Pastors who are not spending time being taught by the Lord in personal quiet times are pastors who are getting ready to fall.

Therefore, this rule does not seem to be as harsh as you originally thought, does it? This questions is designed to create healthy, accountable, pure, and effective leaders who serve God’s people. However, this question should not be reserved only for leaders in the church, but rather all believers. So, “What is God teaching you?”

The Importance of Team Values

I am going to date myself in this post. Do you remember The Flintstones? Fred, Barney, Betty, and “W-i-l-m-a?” The Flintstones was one of my favorites growing up as a child. I really loved the cars they drove. The cars were propelled by their feet. Everyone in the stone-age car had to move their feet together to gain speed and plant their feet in the dirt when they needed to make an abrupt stop.

Leadership teams work like a stone-age car ride with the Flintstones. Everyone on the team has a job to do. Everyone on the team must contribute to keep the vision of the organization moving in the right direction. However, one person in the car or on the team can destroy the momentum of an entire organization. For example, if everyone on the team is peddling in a certain direction and one team member is digging his or her heals in the sand, the entire team will feel the effects of that one team member. The leader driving the car will definitely notice when his team is not working together properly.

How do you keep your team on your stone-age car ride peddling in the same direction? This post contends for the importance of team values for your leadership corps. Team values operate like core values for any organization. Team values are like measuring tools to ensure that the people on your team are moving their feet, and they serve as standards for anyone who wants to join your team. As a local church pastor, here are our three team values:

  1. Teachable: Teachable can be closely connected to the biblical understanding of humility. We expect all our leaders to be teachable in that they are willing to learn and endure positive criticism. This value implies that a person desires to be challenged and get better at their calling.
  2. Trustworthy: Teams that have no trust among its members are teams that are doom to fail. Our leadership team discusses many sensitive and difficult issues. We are constantly confronting one another, and sharing ideas that if were brought before the church would stir up strife and dissension. Our team thrives on trust. I have to know that my staff has my back, and they have to know that I have their back in front of our congregation.
  3. Team Player: Sometimes the team must come before the individual. With any organization, resources are limited. Individual team members might get looked over for a particular resource because another area of ministry needs it more at that moment. If we are all fighting for our own ministry, we will fight against each other and our team will become dysfunctional. Dysfunctional teams lead to ineffective leaders.

These values are an example for you to see how important something like this is for your leadership team. With these values, we are able to keep our stone-age car going down the road, and prevent anyone from getting into our Flintstones car that might drag their feet. I encourage you to create your own set of team values for your organization because they are important for the overall health and momentum of your team.

The 4 Cs to Corporate Church Conflict

Ministry is a lot like riding a roller coaster (if you like roller coasters). Ministry has moments where God is moving in the church and you feel like you are climbing sky high. You feel like you are about to touch down on cloud nine. However, sometimes things begin to fall apart and you feel like you are spiraling downhill out of control. This is when you feel like loosing your stomach.

Ministry can be difficult, but in my opinion, serving the bride of Christ can be one of the most fulfilling positions on the planet. Nevertheless, when a conflict in the church arises, many pastors either don’t know how to respond or respond wrongly. Conflict can be a breeding ground for growing your leadership influence within the church you serve.

One of the most difficult times to deal with conflict is during a corporate gathering. The scenario plays out that a disgruntled member confronts the pastor in front of a small or large crowd of witnesses. This can elevate the tension for everyone in the room. Typically, when tension elevates, so does the emotions and the tone of one’s voice. How does a pastor appropriately respond? What is the best way for a pastor to respond?

Here are the 4 Cs that our staff uses to handle conflict in a corporate setting:

  1. Care for the person. One of the best ways to calm down the disgruntled church member is to acknowledge their anger, and say something like, “I really appreciate you bringing this to my attention.” This reaction shows you care about them as a person and their concern(s). It doesn’t matter if you agree with their anger or not. You have acknowledged that they have been heard as a brother or sister in Christ.
  2. Control the situation. After you have shown you care about them as a person, control the situation by indicating that this is not the time or the place to have this discussion. Say something like, “I had no idea this was an issue. May we schedule a time to meet and discuss this problem further?” Encourage them that you want to hear them out completely, and tell them you want to give them your full undivided attention at a later date. Don’t return with anger or attitude back at the disgruntled member. Respond with gentleness and love. These types of responses will keep everyone else calm, and hopefully calm down the person who is angry, too.
  3. Circumvent back to the intended purpose of your gathering. If you are at church for a service, meeting, or time of prayer, indicate to the group that you are at the church for a particular reason. Explain why everyone has gathered that morning, afternoon, or evening, and follow your purpose of gathering with prayer. Therefore, identify the purpose of the gathering and pray for the gathering in order to quickly move to your designated agenda.
  4. Continue like nothing happened. The fourth C seems to be the most difficult of all the others. Many pastors are shepherds and have big hearts. Public conflicts can be difficult to overcome because some of us take them so personally. Great leaders let those types of out bursts roll off, and they get back to working for the Lord. Continuing like nothing happened creates two reactions from the audience: First, if you continue on like nothing happened, the people won’t think that moment was a big deal to you. They see their leader in a stoic like fashion. Second, it lets the one who confronted you know that they can’t throw you off your game. You are here to serve the Lord, and you are going to follow through regardless of any incident that comes your way.

Leading in the church is the most rewarding, but can also be the most challenging. However, if leading God’s church were easy, everyone would be doing it. My goal is to prepare you and my staff now for incidents that we might face in ministry. Therefore, we can handle these types of scenes with grace and poise, and our godly example will be noted by all. People are willing to follow a godly pastor who responds to a corporate church conflict with the 4 Cs.

Teaching Reconciliation to Children

One of the many joys of parenting comes in the form of teaching our children new things. We all remember the first time we taught our child or children to tie their shoes, to hit a T-Ball, or to ride a bicycle. Most of us were just as thrilled to watch our children learn and succeed as they were in accomplishing the task before them. In this post, I want to encourage Christian parents to teach their children the biblical principle of reconciliation. By reconciliation, I mean restoring a relationship when sin has hurt the relationship.

We need to be honest with ourselves; our children are not perfect. Our children’s hearts are prone to sinful actions (Prov. 22:15). Our children will be sinned against and will sin against others. God has graciously blessed us with our children for only a short amount of time. Which means, God has placed our children with us in order that we may teach them the ways of the Lord. All Christian parents should desire to one day send their children out into the world as godly men and women sharing the gospel and contributing as beneficial members in society (Deut. 6:7, Eph 6:4, and Prov. 22:6).

For this reason, we must teach our children how to reconcile with God and others anytime sin breaks a relationship. How do we go about doing this in the Christian home? I will provide three areas of teaching reconciliation to our children so they may grow in the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord. By the way, if we do not teach our children the biblical principle of reconciliation we may inadvertently teach our children that they are not responsible for their actions in any relationship. This mentality will not only hurt their relationships with others, but will hurt their understanding of the gospel. The three areas for teaching reconciliation are:

1) We must teach our children that anytime they sin they must first seek reconciliation with God.

When we or our children sin, we must first recognize our sin as a direct rebellion against God. We should be like David that pleads with God after his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10). We must teach our children to first go to God and ask forgiveness in order to reconcile their relationship with God. I encourage parents to sit down with their child and teach the child how to pray and ask for God’s forgiveness. Feed the words to the child the first few times. After the child starts to see how you pray to ask forgiveness, allow them to start praying and asking forgiveness by themselves. Don’t forget that you are training and teaching your children the biblical principle of reconciliation. This takes time. It’s just like riding a bike or hitting a T-Ball. Once they get it, get excited and celebrate their accomplishment.

2) We must teach our children that anytime they sin against others they must go and seek reconciliation with the other person.

This one will be difficult for your child. Just as this one seems to be the most difficult among Christian brothers and sisters in Christ. Nevertheless, seeking reconciliation with others exists as an essential in the biblical principle of reconciliation. In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5: 23-24). When we sin against others, our sin hurts the relationship. We must go and ask forgiveness from the other person that we have sinned against. We must teach our children how to go and ask forgiveness in order to be reconciled to the other person. Teach your child to go ask forgiveness by confessing they are responsible for their actions, and they are sorry for their actions. The child is more likely to do this if you are standing right beside the child during this process. Once they seek reconciliation, praise them for owning up to their actions and seeking reconciliation.

3) We must teach our children that when they are sinned against the gospel mandates that they must forgive the other person.

This concept is another difficult one for children. Just as this concept is difficult for brothers and sisters in Christ. Our children will not only sin against others, but our children will be sinned against by others. They must learn to forgive others in order for relationships to be reconciled. We must teach our children that they have sinned against a Holy God more than anyone has sinned against them. However, Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and glorious resurrection has allowed a Holy God to forgive them of all their rebellion against him. This understanding of the gospel leads Paul to write, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). The best way to teach forgiveness to your child is to forgive them when they rebel against you in the home. Tell them you have forgiven them, and that you will not hold their sin against them. Of course we discipline, but after the discipline has been rendered, forgiveness is immediate.

Reconciliation is a difficult lesson to teach to a child, but reconciliation is a continuous lesson to be taught to a child in the Christian home. A word of example for you as a Christian parent to consider. If you are not seeking reconciliation with others (i.e. spouse, boss, church family, family, etc.), how do you expect your children to seek reconciliation. The lessons you teach are sometimes more effective if you are living out the biblical principle of reconciliation in front of your child. Do they see you asking forgiveness from God, from others, and forgiving others? Before you can teach this lesson, you have to be willing to apply this lesson in your own Christian walk. May we continue to live out 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” That includes our parenting and teaching the biblical principle of reconciliation to our children.