Home Church Help

The Christian life is normally a life of peace, love, and unity with God and in relationships in the church. But if you have been a Christian for very long, especially if you have been a part of a close knit group of saints sharing church life together, more than likely you have not always experienced total peace in all relationships.

It is not uncommon for many Christians to have been a part of disunity, divisions, hurt feelings, and separation in the church. Obviously, we know that Satan is the source for the destruction of relationships in the church. Ultimately we know that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of darkness (Eph. 6:12). But how does Satan work in order to cause divisions and broken relationships? How can we expose this and guard against it? What can be learned from the widespread damage that constantly occurs in Christian fellowships?

As I examine my past years in church life, there have been so many people who have broken fellowship with one another and who have separated from each other on bad terms.  Not only has there been a rich experience of love, joy, peace, and unity in church life; there has also been plenty of heartache, pain, betrayal, and damage. It is a pattern I’ve observed over and over again in multiple groups nation wide. But why? Why is there sometimes so much separation in the church?

Many people lack basic relationship skills which is a huge source of most problems. Having good relationship skills is not just having nice manners or developing polite ways of relating. Solid relationship skills only come from doing honest business in your heart before God and in your heart toward other people on an ongoing basis. It is tough work to maintain unity in church life. It is tough work to maintain vulnerability. Many Christians neglect this activity and decide to take the easy way out.

The Coward’s Two Step – Judge and Separate

We are certainly required to call sin, “sin” and “call a spade a spade” in the church. For example, if someone is clearly and obviously displaying outbursts of anger by screaming at their spouse and kicking the dog, you should inform them that this behavior is wrong and they need to stop. On the contrary, if someone didn’t invite you over for supper, they looked at you in a funny way, or (according to your perception) they are treating you badly – you simply cannot assume that you know for certain what is in their heart.

Unless another person’s actions are extremely obvious and evident, there is no way you can know for certain their hidden motives, reasons or attitudes. You must not assume. When obvious outward behaviors are absent and yet, you come to a conclusion about what is in someone’s heart, you have judged them.

When you observe a possible negative behavior in someone else, but it is not blatant and clearly obvious, the most you can possibly do is humbly approach them and ask them a question: “When you did this certain thing, it came across as though you were being selfish. Where you truly being selfish or am I wrong about that?”  Even if their actions appear to be obvious to you, it is still a good practice to ask an open ended question. There is a big difference between judging outward actions and forming judgments. For a more detailed explanation of the difference between judging and forming judgments, refer to the article The Difference Between Judging and Forming Judgments.

Christians may hide behind, “the Lord showed me this about them” in order to justify the judgments they have formed. Just because you feel something in your heart does not automatically mean that it came from God. Judgments are almost always self-serving and self-protecting in nature. It is not spiritual to discern sin in someone else without there being obvious outward behaviors to prove it.  There is no example in scripture of Christians being encouraged to “discern” sin in someone else. We are to only judge outward actions in the church, and even judging outward actions should be approached humbly, with much care and caution.

Judgments don’t usually form in your heart overnight. They grow and build over time. A judgment usually starts with a small offense. If the offense is not quickly forgiven or cleared up, you can easily develop “an opinion” about that person. Negative opinions are usually camouflage for judgments.

Many times we make faulty assumptions and form judgments based on what someone said or did, because if it were us doing or saying the same thing, then we would be making a bad choice. The problem is that the other person is not you. The other person may be engaged in a certain behavior or saying a certain thing, and they may not be in a bad place at all.

What can you do to avoid forming judgments and avoid the destruction it causes in the church?

Stop assuming.

A very basic and vital relationship skill is to learn how to ask vulnerable questions. Instead of deciding that you know the truth about someone, ask a genuine and vulnerable question in order to find out the truth: “Are you OK with me?” “Did I offend you?” “Where were you coming from when you did this or that?” “When you repeatedly make this certain statement, it seems like you are being arrogant or condescending. That is not how I know you or think of you. Can you tell me where you are coming from when you make that statement?”

1 Cor. 13:7 teaches us that “love believes all things”. During the exercise of asking vulnerable questions, it is important to believe the other person’s response. If you ask a brother or sister a question about their motives, you need to believe whatever they tell you and then release your suspicions. Even if they are self-deceived and you wind up believing a lie, eventually God will reveal their true heart motives with more obvious actions in the future which will be clear and undeniable to all. It is not your job to keep someone in prison because of your suspicions. You are not the righteousness police. It is only the job of the Holy Spirit to convict people of sin.

On the other hand, if someone approaches you with a statement such as, “God showed me something about you” – such as “God told me you are walking in sin, you are having a hard heart, or that you have proud or selfish motives”; what should be an appropriate response on your part when you are approached with these kinds of allegations?

First and foremost, don’t react and defend yourself in the moment. If what they are saying is true, then admit it and forsake it. If it is not obviously true, ask them to share with you some examples in order to help you see it. If you feel attacked with a false accusation, be quiet and simply thank them. A good response would be, “Thank you for bringing this to me, I’ll look at that and get back to you on it.” Later, when you are at peace, genuinely take the issue to the Lord and ask Him to show you if what they are saying has any truth to it or not. Sometimes people sense error in us, yet they deliver it too strongly or they don’t quite hit the bull’s eye perfectly. Never the less, there still maybe some degree of truth or a related truth in what they are saying to you. If the Lord shows you that what they are saying is true and you see it, then repent of it and let your brother or sister know that you saw it and that you repented of it. If you don’t see it and God doesn’t confirm that what they are saying is true on any level, after a few days respond to them by saying, “I currently don’t see what you are saying as being true, but thank you for telling me, I’ll continue to keep it before God.” You are not saying they are wrong, you are not saying they are right. You just don’t see it. If you do see it one day, then you will be sure to let them know.

It is always healthy to keep short accounts. If someone offends you, either let it go or go to them in private. But the worst possible thing you can do is to make some sort of decision about them that is based on an assumption, and then distance or separate yourself from them because of your assumption. This lack of honesty and vulnerability with other people is a breeding ground for judgments, false accusations, and ultimately bitterness. Bitterness will eventually spread to many other people and cause division in the church. Oh, how many times I’ve seen this happen! How many times I’ve seen brothers and sisters assume that they know the heart of another brother or sister, and then without approaching them with vulnerable questions, they distance themselves from them while assuming “they know”. In almost every case, other people are also poisoned and infected during the process.

Heb 12:15 “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;”

How many churches and Christian fellowships have been divided and split because of false accusations, erroneous judgments, self-protection, lies, hurt feelings, and bitterness? How easily this could all be avoided, if only vulnerable questions would be asked and answers would be believed. If only the accused would be approached and given the benefit of the doubt. If only people were willing to do the work necessary to preserve the unity of the Spirit.

The body of Christ is repeatedly torn and damaged from Christians who would prefer a much safer position. It is much safer to conveniently form a judgment and then distance yourself because of your judgment.

When will the church learn to communicate with honesty and vulnerably in order to work through hurt feelings and offenses with other people? We must humble ourselves and repent of our assumptions. You do not know what is in the heart of your brother or sister. Release them. Ask them a question, and allow the Holy Spirit to repair the breech.

Are you willing to do the hard work that is necessary to live true church life? Are you willing to remain vulnerable and honest with your brothers and sisters and keep short accounts? If your are not, less damage may occur in the church if you would remain sitting on a pew until you are fit for true body life.

Pro 18:1 “He who separates himself himself seeks his own desire, he quarrels against all sound wisdom.”


3 Responses to “Diffusing an Atomic Bomb in Church Life”

  1. Dale Lehfeldt

    I presently personally minister to over 2000 people of all ages, cultures and of various physical and mental conditions each week. About 500 are in rest homes. I visit 7 rest homes each week touching the lives of residence and workers. I have a close relationship with most of the 2000. I also reach thousands more with 30 second messages three times a day. Most people personally get a 2 minutes written message each week which is received with thankfulness.

  2. Dale Lehfeldt

    I want to take my ministry one step farther. That is to get many of these into home church. I have tried but without any response. Many have confided that they are hurt by the \\”church\\” and ovoid going. Yet at the same time they feel the need. Any suggestions that would be helpful let me know. I you have questions to ask me, please do. Pastor Dale Lehfeldt retired and active in a christcare ministry.

  3. Joshua Onganga

    Dear Servant of God.
    Many greetings in the wonderful name of our Almighty Father above. It is so wonderful to visit your web and know how you are working in the Lord’s ministry. I am Brother Joshua from Kenya . We are a small fellowship church which has no any afiiliation with any ministry. Our work is to bring people in the Lord’s Kingdom and preach the Lord’s will for His people.
    It is our desire to welcome you to our church so that to have a fellowship with you and share the word of God together. We also need to be part of your ministry and in one accord you reach us and train us in the way we can lead the church. We could also need to receive your resources, training for the church. Our desire is also to come and minister the work we are doing and ordain the leaders. We will be honoured and blessed to be part of your ministry. We have 11destitute kids who need your prayers we ask you top pray for them always.
    I hope to read from you soon.
    Brother Joshua Otenyo

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