Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Evangelism, Faith, Healing, Hope

When church is difficult…

There is a well-known saying, ‘Going to church no more makes you a Christian, than sitting in a garage, makes you a car’.  How true that is!  And yet often we are surprised when we are disappointed by people we meet in church or if we feel our leaders have let us down.

The church is God’s idea and we, as His people, are the ‘living stones’ of the church.  And regardless of the circumstances, I believe it is important for each of us to be part of a church and to be part of the ‘assembly’ (as it says in Hebrews 10).  No man is an island and we all need that sense of community and accountability.  However, it is not always easy.  In a perfect world, church should leave us feeling fulfilled and built up.  Church should be a place where we go to meet with other like-minded believers, where we are free to worship and where we can hear from God and be made strong in His word. For me, personally, it is not about the style of the church or the type of worship, it is about the connection we make with God when we are there.  Church should be a place where we become aware of God’s presence, where we can get encouraged and also corrected, if that is what we need.

But for many, church is not like that and many people struggle within their church communities.

So how can we respond when church life is difficult?

The first thing to remember is that every church has a variety of personalities.  We all worship and connect with God in different ways and we also each respond to situations in different ways too.  However, when dealing with difficult situations, here are a few ways we can respond:

Deal with the issue, not the person

Personally, when dealing with difficult people and situations within church, I have always found it helpful to not point out flaws in the person, but to address the real issue, or in some cases, the spirit which is motivating the negative behaviour.  For example in Acts 16, Paul and Silas were being followed by a woman who kept shouting, ‘these are men of God, they will show you the way to salvation’.  That might not sound like a bad thing, but Paul identified there was a spirit at work.  Instead of addressing the woman or the personality, he addressed the spirit of fortune-telling which was motivating this woman and commanded it to leave.   He saw the situation through his spiritual eyes, not his natural eyes.

Commit to prayer

It can be easy to react to negativity, but we should always first of all, commit to prayer. Sometimes, there are no ‘quick fixes’ for awkward situations or conflict, but we should always commit to covering the whole situation (for however long it takes) in prayer.

God’s Word has the answers

I was in situation many years ago and a pastor approached me about a difficult couple in his church. ‘What should we do, David? he asked.  It would have been very easy to give my opinion, but the truth is, it is not my opinion which counts, but the opinion of the Word of God.   What does God’s Word say?  I believe if we ask God for a revelation and an answer, He will always give us a strategy or shine a light on a piece of Scripture which will give us hope for the future.

When all else fails

You might be in a situation where you feel you have tried everything but there is no clear way forward.  If that is the case, perhaps God has a different church community for you to be part of?  If you feel it is time to move on, then it is important to ‘leave well’. Pastoring a church is a difficult job and for many ministers, it can be a lonely experience.

When a person leaves a church, as a pastor, it is difficult to not take it personally.  So, if you are leaving, try to take everyone’s feelings into consideration and don’t slam the door on your way out.  Instead, do all you can to leave with a right attitude and on good terms.   If you are looking for a new spiritual home, the key questions to ask yourself are; ‘Do I fit in here?’ ‘Do I feel at home?’  What is their vision? Is it something I can give my heart, time and talents to?  Are the leaders really called to the mission/vision of the church?  Can I support their vision?  And finally, is it a place where I can grow?

It’s important for all of us, to be part of a church community which enables us to grow spiritually and practically, but also to be encouraged and strengthened in God’s Word.  Ask God to guide you to the right church home.  He won’t let you down.

DavidBlog-July2017

 

 

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Evangelism, Faith, Healing, Hope, Miracles, Spiritual healing

The Power of a Story – Sid’s story

Once a year, the UCB team (staff and volunteers) gather together to celebrate all that God has done and share some of our thoughts and hopes for the future.

Our Staff Away Day was last Thursday and what a wonderful day we had.  We had a wonderful time of worship together, led by our friends from CfAN, followed by a great word from the Chairman of our Board, Alan Scotland, who heads up Global Horizons.    We themed the event, ‘The Power of a story’ to coincide with a new book we have published for UCB’s 30th anniversary. The book tells the stories of 30 people whose lives have been changed by the power of God’s Word.

Two of the people in the book, Sid O’Neill and Margaret McGuckin, came to join us (as a surprise for the staff) at the Away Day.  We shared their stories on video and then invited them to talk in more detail about how God has impacted their lives.


This is Sid’s story in his own words:

When I was 12 years old, I went to live with my grandmother. The house we lived in had a lot of strange spiritual activity and, as a child, I used to see and hear spirits. That was my only experience of anything ‘spiritual’. Years later, I was working in a print factory and one of the bosses, Neil, was a Christian. I think I made his life a misery, as I used to tease him and try to embarrass him. I’d never met a Christian before – I thought it was really amusing. I wondered why he always read his Bible, rather than the newspaper like the rest of us.

Although I knew there was a spiritual world (because of my childhood experiences), the only thing I now did religiously was go to the pub on a Friday night. One night, a group of us were heading off for some drinks when we were involved in a terrible car accident – one of my friends in the car was killed. I was seriously injured and spent a long time in hospital with broken legs and a broken back. I had a lot of time to think and I blamed God for what He had done to me and to my friends. When I got better, I took off to a new job in the Middle East. I made a real mess of things there, started drinking and ended up breaking my contract in order to get back to the UK. When I returned, Neil, the supervisor from my old factory, was now running his own busy printing firm and he was printing this little booklet called the UCB Word for Today.

He offered my wife a job and one day when I went to pick her up, the printing press was broken. Neil was distraught and at the point of tears, as he couldn’t find anyone to fix it and the UCB Word for Today needed to be urgently printed. I don’t know how, but I looked at the machine and I was able to fix it…and the printing continued. Even though I wasn’t a believer, I believe that God helped me to fix that machine.

Somehow, I knew that I needed to be there, working for Neil. It meant a 50% pay cut but I was drawn back there, and I used to read the UCB Word for Today as it came off the presses. One night, Neil gave me a CD with a man singing a song from Psalm 23 and as I sat there, alone in the factory, I raised my hands and I was crying. I knew that God was speaking to me, and I knew that if I asked for forgiveness, God would set me free and He would heal me of all my pain. That was the day I stopped running from God and since then, I have not looked back. Today, I am working with the Christian motorcyclist Association. I can’t say how thankful I am to God for all that He’s done in my life. He’s fixed my hurt and pain, He’s stopped me from running and He’s given me hope. In my life, God has worked through so many different means: through Neil, through the bikers, through the Word For Today and through everyone who prayed for me.

Today, Sid works with the Christian Motorcyclists Association and he brought some of his biker friends from CMA, who also shared how God was working in their lives.

Hearing stories like these blesses me so much.  I know that it is not because of anything UCB has done, but because of God at work in people’s lives.  Sometimes, God allows us and UCB to be part of that journey.  We are so thankful that we are!

This week is a very busy one for our team, as we launch our National Appeal on UCB 1 and UCB 2.   It will be three days of inspiring radio and we will share many more testimonies of God working in people’s lives.

I hope you will be able to listen in.

p.s   If you are able to support the work of UCB this week, it is very easy to get in touch.  You can text the word TEAMUCB to 70500 to give £10 and 100% of the donation comes straight to UCB (the text will cost you 1 network charge + the £10 from your donation).