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10 Ways to Keep COVID from Causing Conflict in Church

10 Ways to Keep COVID from Causing Conflict in Church

By Trey Talley
Author of The Missing Gospel of Modern Christianity

The world, our country, states, governors, politicians, medical experts, news outlets, and social media are all divided over how to righty respond to COVID-19. Some people believe that the COVID-19 response from the world has been a massive overreach, while others might think that it was not nearly strict enough. Some think we should get back to life as usual ASAP, while others would prefer to keep stringent measures of isolation in place for the foreseeable future.

One thing seems to be for sure, everyone seems to have an opinion on the matter. Now it is one thing to watch the politicians and medical experts aggressively fighting each other about how we should all be responding to COVID-19, but what will you do to avoid the fighting from flowing into your church? Will tempers flare? Will friendships be lost. Will your church divide? 

COVID-19 appears to be on the decline, and the world on its way to recovery; however, the damage done to the unity of your church could last much longer. How could this be? I mean, after all, as Christians, we are all part of the body of Christ. We have the same salvation, same Savior, the same indwelling of the Holy Spirit, etc. As Christians, we are even commanded by God to be patient, peaceful, and understanding people, who strive to live at peace with one another. However, sometimes, even Christians are caught off guard by controversies and how to handle them correctly.

While much more could be said, hopefully, these practical steps will help you to keep peace within your church.

1. Close your mouth.

Just because you disagree with a comment, does not mean that it is necessary to voice your disagreement, especially if you know that there is a high likelihood of an argument erupting.

“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.” (2 Timothy 2:23)

2. Love others even if it hurts.

Loving others sometimes means that it can even be a bit painful. Paul talks about a love that “bears” and “endures.” Bearing with and enduring someone implies that it is a difficult task. However, you continue to do so because you love them. 

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7)

3. Be a peacekeeper.

Before every conflict, one has the option of choosing war or peace. As believers, we should strive for peace and comfort each other during these unusual times. 

“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11)

4. Honor one another, even if you disagree.

Is what you are about to say going to honor your brother or sister in Christ?

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)

5. Be a good listener.

Good listeners are difficult to find in an argument. Usually, each person only wants to express his or her opinion. However, just listening to someone is often one of the best ways to avoid tempers from flaring. 

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20)

6. You don’t have to talk about COVID.

Just because others are talking about the latest findings, quarantines, vaccines, etc. it does not mean that you are required to jump into the conversation. In fact, it may be best to avoid it altogether or to change the subject. See my blog, Speak CHRIST, not COVID.

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” (Proverbs 10:19)

7. Strive to keep harmony.

Children of God should not be fighting like those who are of the world. We should go over and beyond in trying to keep our relationships with other Christians harmonious, and in doing so, we individually and corporately become better worshippers of God. 

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5-6)

8. Be quick to forgive.

Yes, someone is going to offend you at church. What should you do? Get mad? Gossip? Stop talking to them? No, you are to forgive them. Remember, Christ forgave you, and as a Christian, you should be reflecting the forgiveness that you have received to those who offend you as well. 

“Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22)

9. Be kind.

Just because you disagree with someone does not mean that you have to get angry about it. Even if someone’s logic is skewed or even incorrect about COVID, it is no excuse to be mean.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

10. Don’t let your anger grow.

There is almost a 100% chance that someone in your church is going to make you mad about what he or she said about COVID issues, but don’t let your anger continue to build. 

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)

As your local congregation begins to come back together, do all that you can do to keep the unity of peace that is found in Jesus Christ. Remember, who you are and how God has called you to live. Love God and love His children.



Speak CHRIST, not COVID

Speak CHRIST, not COVID

 
News agencies are saturated with COVID-19 updates, warnings, and information. This is true, not only news agencies but people in general. Everyone is talking about the chaos, catastrophes, and conspiracy theories surrounding COVID.
 
Sadly, I have noticed that this complete COVID focus is also taking over the mind, attention, and words of Christians as well. So many Christians have joined the COVID conversation and have become just like the world around them: speaking or posting about all things COVID. Christian after Christian has become nothing more than a common, every day, wannabe COVID expert who is more than willing to regurgitate the latest COVID updates.
 
I don’t want to sound too harsh, and I will admit that I have been guilty of being overly distracted by COVID as well. Understandably, we are living in an unusual time, I mean, it has not been common for any of us to deal with a pandemic. It is natural and easy for even the Christian mind to be unhealthily consumed with COVID information. However, as Christians, we must realize that we have news that is far more important that we are to be focused upon and sharing with others: the gospel. We must not forget about the greatest news ever given to humankind for the most significant and most universal problem that all humankind faces. As Paul writes,
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”1
 
This passage is an excellent reminder of the “news” that we have been entrusted with and the need to share it. Jesus Christ the Son of God is the world’s only Savior. As God and man, He alone is the only One that could live and die to pay the infinite price of sin that no person could every pay. Everyone who calls on Jesus for salvation will be saved. Saved from the judgment of God, saved from their sins, saved from the wrath of God, and saved from an eternity in Hell. This is good news! And this is the good news that we should be speaking about regularly, and yes even during, if not more so, during a pandemic.
 
People have been given a stark reminder that they are mortal. People are sick. People are dying. The count of people infected or who have died from the virus is ever before us. Many people who live as though they will never die, are now daily reminded of their mortality. As a Christian, this is your time to shine bright by the way you think and the way that you speak. Look for ways to turn conversations from COVID to CHRIST.
 
Though the entire world seems to be focused on COVID, let us not become unhealthily consumed mentally, or verbally with the virus. We must remind ourselves that Christ is the ultimate cure that every single human being needs. People need hope. People need good news. People need you to tell them about CHRIST!
 
1. Romans 10:13-15



 

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