No person is perfect. No church or ministry is perfect. Nothing will ever be run exactly to your liking. Everyone has different taste, style, and needs, so it is impossible for a ministry to fit every single person – unless the ministry only has one person (you)
When you’re new to a ministry it may look like it’s the most wonderful, perfect place there is. But the more you get involved, the more you get invested, and the closer you get to the inner workings of leadership, the more you realize that this ministry group also has things you would like to see change.
From the senior pastor of a ministry to the national leader, every one of them see things they would like to see done differently within the ministry over them. Many ministries have been torn apart over insignificant, petty things that don’t matter, intimate friendships lost because someone picked up an offense. Usually the people who are busy working for the kingdom don’t have time to see the petty things or time for taking up offenses, but those who are doing nothing have plenty of time to make messes.
It’s okay to not like everything that goes on inside a ministry/church. Maybe you don’t like the style of music the choir sings, or you think the Life Groups should meet more than once a month. It’s okay to have some suggestions for small things. It’s even okay to approach the pastor with a suggestion about how you can help make an area better after you have proven yourself faithful and trustworthy, and you approach with a prayerful humble spirit.
HOWEVER, it is not okay to recruit a congregation around yourself, talking and whispering about the things you don’t like, stirring up dissension, discord, and causing strife and confusion in the body. Galations 5:20 calls this sin. When you stop talking to God about your issues, and start talking to people, you stop walking in the Spirit and begin walking in the flesh.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Rallying people for your side is the same temptation Eve faced in the beginning of time. She failed, she knew she failed, and she didn’t want to go down alone. So she gave the fruit to Adam. It is our human nature to want to vent our frustrations to the people we think will go along with us. People who will feel sorry for us, and possibly even stand up for us. But what we are really doing is putting an unbearable burden on our friends. Once we take a critical spirit to a friend, they now only have 2 choices:
1) They can listen to our gossip, allow our critical spirit into their life, and begin walking in the flesh themselves. They remain our friend, but they endanger their life, their ministry, their future, and all those who would have been affected by their ministry. The law of Sowing and Reaping takes effect immediately in their life. Depending on how immature they are in the Lord, we could become the “stumbling block” that causes them to walk away from their faith.
2) Or, they can acknowledge our critical spirit, call it out for what it is, tell you as a friend that they do not agree with what you are saying and that you should stop spreading gossip. They can show you scripture that proves you have sin in your life and call for repentance. This is hard for them to say and even harder for you to hear.
What if someone brings gossip and/or a critical spirit to you?
1) The Bible tells us to “have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” Eph 5:11. Explain that you will not listen to gossip because gossip is sin. And that you will not allow their critical spirit to be transferred to you. So many times we listen to friends “venting” because we don’t know how to respond. Listening to gossip is the same thing as gossiping yourself. Don’t be caught listening to gossip disguised as a prayer request or as a concern for someone. Psalms 19 says Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight oh Lord. Tearing someone down, crushing their reputation, sowing discord in a ministry is definitely not pleasing to the Lord!
When you respond this way it is guaranteed that your friend will not come to you again with gossip. And they will probably report back to the group that you are not going to join them.
2) A Critical spirit will try to attach itself to you whether you listen to the gossip or not. It is our human nature to be critical, to believe the worst about people. You have to pray to keep your heart pure and not allow bad thoughts to enter in. When you’re not guarded, the smallest deceitful questions can sneak in and like a seed begin to grow in your heart. We have to pray daily for God to create in us a clean heart, and renew a right spirit inside of us.
*Side note Ministry Ethics – if not done very carefully, when you decide to approach a pastor about things concerning their ministry, you will probably be marked as someone who cannot be trusted in a congregation. Going forward, every time you are seen talking in a small group or heard you had a meeting, the pastor will be wondering what you were talking about. It will be hard for a pastor to trust you or move you to leadership. Particularly if you are a minister sitting in another minister’s church (ie Chi Alpha Director) God speaks directly to the Pastor about the direction of the church – not to you. The Pastor and staff/leadership put in hours of thought and prayer for their ministry, so when someone comes to attack his ministry, it is not taken lightly. It is arrogant and prideful to think you know more about how to minister to His congregation better than He does. Pride is Sin