Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Churches Need Chemistry

It takes chemistry to make a relationship work. Apart from a family, there is no where that strong relationships are more necessary than a church. And for a church to grow and thrive it needs leaders who know how to build strong relationships. This ability to get along with others is what we mean by 'chemistry'.
complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves
Philippians 2:2-3
In Philippians 2, the Apostle Paul calls for believers to get along in the attitude of Christ's humility. And it takes humility to get along with others. There are times when people may just be irritating. Our most natural response to people who irritate us is an automatic reflex of pride. But this is bad relationship chemistry. Producing good relational chemistry at a time like this - by responding in humility- does not come naturally. It requires practicing the grace of God.
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:9
For a church to be successful (Church-Success=winning souls to Christ, growing fully-devoted passionate followers of Christ, equipping believers to ~ fulfil their God-given ministries ~ pray ~ read and heed their Bibles, building a legacy of faith for generations to come, and to develop a vigorous community of faith) it requires organisation. Under the Old Covenant when God organised the Community of Law, He ordered that the clans of the Levites be assigned very specific responsibilities which included who was to carry the tent, who was to carry the fence, who was to carry the furniture, when they moved their camp. Under the New Covenant, God has organised the Community of Faith according to His giftings. Competence matters when it comes to church leaders. But competence alone can only take a church so far.
If a competent leader has an undisciplined character, no matter how gifted they may be, it will all come to nothing once their character is exposed. In Australia we have just witnessed a media circus regarding the Civil Law case of a young woman who was sexually harassed by the CEO of the corporation she worked for. What made this $32M Law Suit all the more intriguing was that the CEO had done a stellar job at turning the fortunes of this company around. Under his management, the share price of his company had almost doubled. Sales were up. Profits were soaring. But this extremely talented, high-performing, CEO had a character deficiency. Another recent case of character not matching competency is occurring now in America. A charismatic pastor of an Atlanta church had seen his small church of a couple of hundred people grow to over 30,000. He had built one of the largest churches in the USA. But he is now facing four charges of sexual molestation. Competency comes to less than nothing when character can not sustain the charisma of the leader. But on a much more frequently occurring scale, in churches all around the world, there are people who all too readily uproot themselves from churches where a pastor or leader attempts to disciple their character deficiency. Instead of responding in humility (Phil. 2:3), they react in pride.
Great churches are churches of great leaders. Great leaders within a church are people who have accepted and developed their God-given gifts (competency) as well as having their character discipled through learning to respond to correction with humility and to shun private temptation. This is why family health (where relationships within the family are good) and church health (where relationships within a church are good) are intrinsically linked. It's why Paul wrote to Timothy that a leader within a church must-
...manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? First Timothy 3:4-5
Effective leaders have developed their abilities and their character. But a leader can only achieve so much, and can only grow so far, without the third component necessary for fulfilling potential: chemistry.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing(1Th. 5:11)
The thing that separates good church from great churches - and, good leaders from great leaders - is chemistry. Chemistry is the ability to adjust to different people so that you can get along with them. People who have learned to do relational chemistry know that you have to make allowances for certain people. They've learned how to start a conversation with the shy. They've learned how to read the non-verbal cues that people send out. They've learned the importance of turning up for birthdays. weddings, funerals, parent-teacher interviews, staff get-togethers, club AGMs, their children's school sports carnivals, Neighborhood Watch meetings, Rotary meetings, and public forums. They've learned that chemistry is built by firstly showing hospitality before receiving it.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor...
Live in harmony with one another
Romans 12:10, 16
Developing relational chemistry takes practice. It involves listening, observing, apologising, spending time, prayer, sacrifice, and patience. Even though the price is high, the dividends are enormous.
By learning how to develop our abilities (competency) with our character and our relational chemistry we are setting ourselves up to fulfil our potential as the person God has created us to be.
In a family, especially a large family, relationship chemistry is employed intuitively. There are times when another family member is going through a tough time and the other family members have to compensate. Many husbands have learned that the relationship chemistry needed with their wife involves: not taking offence when their wife becomes routinely negative (due to her body chemistry changing); spending time alone together talking; buying her flowers; writing her a love-note; giving her chocolate. And what family gathering over a Christmas lunch doesn't have an embarrassing aunt or uncle which requires other family members to use relationship chemistry order to compensate for them?
The same kind of relational chemistry is needed in a church. There will be times when someone in your church will upset you, ignore you, disappoint you, or fail to thank you. At these times, you need relational chemistry to forgive and to forbear. If you are struggling to be able to do this, you need to know that it is not difficult - it is impossible! You need God's grace. God's grace enables us to do what we can not do by ourselves! There will also be times when you will upset someone, disappoint someone, or fail to thank someone. It's times like these that you need relational chemistry to rebuild strained relationships.
Ultimately we need to develop the right relationship chemistry with God. If our relationship with God is not what it should be, it will show in how we relate to others. A vibrant relationship with God leads to a vibrant relationship with others. We forgive to the degree we have been forgiven and love to the degree we are loved (Luke 7:47). When we are open to God's correction, quick to confess our sin, walking humbly before Him transparently, we will feel His Holy Spirit leading us to develop stronger relationship chemistry.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:4-7
Over the next few months as the Lord brings in hurting and broken people, we will need to show them chemical relational grace. Rather than jumping on them for using the wrong language, or for not abstaining from unwholesome things, or for being involved in inappropriate relationships, we compensate with relational chemistry. We may need to exercise relationship chemistry when one of our brothers or sisters is battling with their own relationship strain or perhaps battling an unannounced terminal illness. But a word of warning: Paul the Apostle in writing to the Corinthians about showing relational grace to a repentant member warned them that Satan's main weapon against the Church was bitterness and unforgiveness (2Cor. 2:10-11). Satan promotes relationship strain. God has given His life for relationship renewal. This is why a Church with a heart after God is a church that promotes competency, character, and chemistry.
Lord Jesus, You have called us to be salt and light to this world that more often than not rejects You, Your Word, Your will and Your ways. Help us to fear You and to not be intimidated by the opinions of men. May we be shaped by Your Word and Your Holy Spirit. Help us to develop the qualities found in Romans 12:9-21 which demands that we humble ourselves, love Your church, care for the world, and serve each other. Increase our saltiness. When we fail, bring us nearer to You than where we have to be in order to fail You. Forgive us for sins. Cleanse our hearts and fill us afresh with Your Spirit to Your Salt and Light to the World.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew

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