Daily Devotional for Small Group Discussion: Charged
Most faith communities argue; it’s a natural part of relationships. But how does your faith community argue? How and to whom do individuals express their disagreement?
- When have you experienced healthy conflict? In your experience, what does unhealthy conflict look like?
- How can our differences—including our conflicts and disagreements—bless the church?
- Jesus taught them, saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.” – Matthew 5:9 (NRSV)
A humble proposal: to remove the word “charge” from ordinations and installations, and use the word “bless” instead. The psalms are surfeit with blessings. Jesus can’t stop using the word “bless” in the Beatitudes. So why do Christian denominations, including the United Church of Christ, still have a “charge” in their ordination and installation services?
A charge to the newly ordained. A charge to the pastor. A charge to the church or other calling body. (It’s a sermon, of sorts, and it functions to impose the official responsibilities of ministry.)
“Charge” is a military word or a credit card word. It has little to do with ministry. Pastors dare not war with their congregations and can even get in trouble for winning too many battles—beware victory!
Ministers of both the lay and the clerical variety know that there is only one loser when a bull starts charging around in a China shop: the community. The community within the congregation, the people who “didn’t come to church to fight.” And the community beyond the parish, the ones the church intends to serve instead of charge. “When the elephants fight, the grass suffers.” Blessed are the peacemakers.
When Christians are known for the beauties in the way we differ, the kindness with which we fight and disagree, congregations will learn to bless the community. (It’s going to be so much fun.)
Charges are not the problem of our ministry wars, but they are a great snapshot of the problem. Removing the Civil War monuments from Richmond didn’t resolve racism but it helped point the way to a new and improved story/history.
Lord, teach us to learn to be great at conflict, beautifully and blessedly. Teach us to forget wars too. Amen.