Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals
Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor
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When Helping Hurts
Kelly C. Bedard, M.Div.
A friend loves at all times, but a
brother is born for adversity.
In most cases, you hopefully can rely on your brother pastor to either help remedy the situation or at least allow for proper closure of the controversy and, accordingly, parting as Christian friends.
Sadly, though, some brothers have been known to receive members before attempts at conflict resolution are even attempted or complete or to advise their colleagues in ministry of membership reception only after the fact.
* If the member requests I initiate the transfer, I respectfully decline and ask him/her to initiate the same--thus allowing for direct and proper closure at the former parish;
* If (s)he seems reticent, I contact my brother pastor and advise of the request and, moreover, ask if there is anything that would preclude such a transfer; and
* If the transfer is controverted, I assure him that I will not act on the it until there is agreement that every attempt has been made to resolve whatever conflict might be evident.
The distinction between these terms might seem evident, but "brother" is used so readily nowadays that its almost lost its Hebrew (and biblical!) connotation of mere "physical relation." On the other hand, "friend"--transcending genealogical or synodical affiliation--implies utmost concern for all parties, not just the transferring member.
When afforded opportunity to sit down with a conflicted member, two questions might be asked:
1) How is whats being done here (the transfer) glorifying God? and
2) How is the transfer edifying the larger Christian community (city, circuit)?
Helping someone (granting a transfer without question) sometimes hurts a lot more (and a lot more people) than it might seem.
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This page was revised on: Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:04:22 PM