by Richard Mansel, managing editor
In order to grow and maintain peace and unity, the atmosphere of a congregation must be constantly monitored. Encouragement builds warmth and strength while negativity spreads disunity and suspicion.
The leadership of a local congregation has a responsibility to create a desirable climate so people feel comfortable. Things grow much better in the sun then they do in the shade.
We must be very clear that negativity in this article does not refer to standing for truth.
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2, NKJV).
The Lord’s Church must never countenance sin and it must be withstood at every level of a congregation. Conceptually, saving someone from sin is not being negative. God’s Word is very clear that sin must be resisted (Galatians 1:6-9; James 4:7).
However, how we say things matters. For example, “I love you” can be said many ways with a positive or a negative tone. It comes down to the attitude portrayed in classes, sermons and in the announcements. We must be attentive to this aspect or we can drive people away.
If attendance is an issue in a congregation, it can be approached in a positive way with encouragement. We can help people see a reason to attend and a motivation to set a goal. Excitement gives people a reason to act.
Conversely, some lift themselves up as the model and lecture and berate the congregation to shame them into attending, giving, etc. It is a parent lecturing a disobedient child and it is demeaning. What do we gain by treating brethren like dumb children?
Negative management styles use fear as a motivator and that will never change the hearts of men for very long. Jesus pointed out sin all the time in a powerful way. However, he always encouraged people to be better through the gospel.
When the pulpit is misused in this way, it creates a gulf between the leadership and the people. It breeds paranoia and resentment and pushes people out the door.
We should hunger to be together in worship. A positive climate creates joy and happiness. Negativity steals our joy. Instead of enjoying worship, we endure it.
Church leaders must banish this negativity from their pulpits or they will continue to wonder why people keep leaving.