by Pastor Marty Hasz, Eisleben Lutheran Church
What’s the one most difficult outcome for a pastor to achieve in the congregation? Agreeing on the color of the new sanctuary carpet? Sort of, yes. Even small decisions can be influenced with that agony of broken or strained relationships. Outstanding sermons and time-tested true strategies struggle to remove this challenge.
We would love to make people behave as idealistic Apostle-type “Christians,” peaceful and filled with Spirit-driven love and unity. However, at times we instead see the devil driving a wedge between church members, knock-down-drag-out arguments in church meetings, back-biting or gossip-eroding undercurrents.
Pastors and church members all want the same thing: Gospel-driven and joyfully unified relationships exuding Christ-like maturity. Our expectations are even embodied in the concluding words of our sermons, “May the peace of God, which passes all understanding….”. Well, yes, often that’s exactly where it remains, beyond our understanding. Unfortunately, our Christian ideal doesn’t always pan out into reality between today’s and next week’s sermon.
Our Lutheran Christianity is a cyclical practice in humility and reconciliation through Christ. To this end, I invite you to review the support and materials of Ambassadors of Reconciliation (AoR), which we are using at Eisleben Lutheran Church in Scott City, in Southeast Missouri near Cape Girardeau.
I have been helping my congregation and others face common issues that cause relationship strain, such as dwindling finances and membership, conflicts with the pastor (or between other individuals), cultural conflict between theology and community and/or member lifestyles, resistance to initiating positive change in ministry and more.
This side of heaven, we’re in a long-term struggle against sin, Satan and the corrupted world to initiate, create and sustain positive change through the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. Bringing about the kingdom of God “here on earth as it is in heaven” is emotionally challenging and logistically exhausting. I have been tasked to write about the resources local congregations can tap into as they strive through conflicts and seek tools that might help them foster health & reconciliation.
Of first importance, I remind the reader that AoR is not about a technique or a set of tools, but rather about engaging in the activity of being ambassadors of the Gospel. I have been in ministry for over 20 years and have seen and used ministry “tool boxes”. They have all had positive uses in certain circumstances, but you’ve heard it said that “it’s all about relationships.” Well, this applies here too, and it comes with resources pastors can offer for lay use or to personally facilitate.
I have found the brothers and sisters of Ambassadors of Reconciliation to be a breath of fresh air for a sole pastor. I experienced this in AoR workshops held in Missouri District and in other districts. I used the “Go and Be Reconciled” Bible study materials in small groups, individual adult confirmation, large group presentations, sermons, training elders and to equip various deacon/deaconess type care-visitors. I have used segments of video resources, handouts, skit materials in various meetings or congregation gatherings. I have engaged in face to face consultation meetings and prayer with Ted Kober and Dwight Schettler to discuss specific confidential applications to unique circumstances.
I would invite you to see contact me or use any of the above resources if you would like more information on how Ambassadors of Reconciliation can assist you or your ministry.
There is much to do in the kingdom of God here on earth, and we know that what is from heaven is a delight and purposefully delivered through the application of the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the Peace of God which passes all understanding guard your heart and mind in Christ, and for His sake let it be so.