By Blair Lundborg
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” (MT 18:20). Great news, right? It is our Lord’s promise that whenever and wherever we gather in Christ’s name, God shows up! God shows up in our worship services, Bible studies, council meetings… even in the meeting after the meeting in the parking lot.
It is interesting that right on the heels of Jesus’ promise to be present, Peter weighs in (as he so often did) with this question: “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. (MT 18:21-22).
I love Peter. He is always quick to ask the “Yeah, but…” questions. “Ok, Jesus- I get that whenever we gather in your name, you promise to be among us. But what do we do about the differences of opinions, arguments, and even flat out nasty things we do to one another?”
Living in community is challenging work. Even though we have the promise that God shows up when we gather in God’s name, we are not guaranteed the absence of conflict. We tend to bring our baggage with us wherever we go- even into our most holy assemblies. Peter apparently understands this. He also has the guts to ask Jesus what to do about it.
Many congregations are asking Peter’s question. Some are navigating an anxious congregational system and find themselves at odds with one another. Others are doing intentional work to create healthy community in their congregations. Most are somewhere in between.
Yes, wherever two or three are gathered in Christ’s name, God shows up. It’s also true that wherever two or three are gathered (even in Christ’s name!) there will be more than one opinion at the table. That’s not good or bad. It just is.
We are committed to creating healthy congregations in the TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod. That doesn’t mean all of our congregations will be free of conflict. That is not realistic. What is possible is equipping our congregations with the tools to negotiate those times of disagreement. To that end, we are pleased to announce a Healthy Congregations Workshop in partnership with the Southwest Texas Synod and hosted by St. Martin’s Lutheran Church, Sugarland. [Healthy Congregations Brochure and Registration]
This series of workshops will give leaders the tools they need for mission-focused leadership. It is not just about navigating conflict. More importantly, it is about creating healthy congregations and healthy relationships. Let’s be honest- we are all asking Peter’s “Yeah, but…” questions. Let’s come together, in Christ’s name, and try to answer those questions together! Don’t wait- register now!