- erupt in the moment and have an angry row – an uncontrolled explosion
- avoid them/avoid the subject – try to be ‘nice’?
- talk to other members about them – particularly those who agree with us
- leave that church (for another one, or none)
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone.If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.” Matthew 18 v15 (NRSV)That is in stark contrast to our present pattern.Jesus is asking us to talk honestly, privately and with the intention of restoration.There are a few reasons why that might be hard for us to do:
- Fear: we are afraid to face an unpleasant/painful conversation; after all, they have already hurt us once
- Hopelessness: we cannot imagine this going well and leading to positive change or restoration – we worry that this direct strategy will only make things worse
- Inadequacy: we have not seen this modelled by others, so we are not sure how to go about it, we doubt our own ability to manage the encounter, and we have not experienced being on the receiving end of this kind of respectful, restoring challenge
- Ego: we don’t want restoration – we feel hurt and angry, maybe we want to punish them, make them sorry and we feel justified in our own stance (we withhold our mercy and forgiveness)
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”Matthew 18 v20 (NRSV)Laurie Randall. Laurie Randall is an independent practitioner in pastoral supervision, mediation, facilitation, and training.She is involved in Pastoral Support for clergy and their partners in Connor Diocese.Laurie also works for Mediation Northern Ireland.