The seventh mark of the authentic missional Church is its ability to deal with conflict in a God-pleasing manner.
“22change the former way of life that was part of the person you once were, corrupted by deceitful desires. 23Instead, renew the thinking in your mind by the Spirit 24and clothe yourself with the new person created according to God’s image in justice and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24
In many church conflicts, the loudest voice wins. Unfortunately, there are bullies in congregations. Let me define what a church bully is. It is someone who lets their agenda and their need for control and power become more important than God’s mission. Those people at times use schoolyard bully tactics to get their way. They prey on the fact that church members genuinely have no desires to come to church to argue and fight. People come to church to be fed with God’s Word and seek avenues where they can use their gifts and talents to help advance God’s kingdom. So, in church conflicts often the bully has free reign. These power struggles play out in the life of too many congregations, and the end results are good people are either hurt in the fight or become disillusioned with Christianity, and the witness of Christ suffers. The bully can take on many faces, but no matter the face, it is Satan’s way of disrupting God’s work among God’s people.
Do miracles still exist? That may sound like an absurd question, but I have heard pastors say that God stopped doing miracles with the Book of Acts. I would respond then you don’t understand why God did miracles in the first place. What is a miracle and why did Jesus do them? Here is a great definition of a miracle.
“An event which may seem contrary to nature and which signifies an act in which God reveals himself to man. The classical definition of miracle assumes that it is contrary to natural law, but this is a misnomer for two reasons. First, many of the miracles of the Bible used nature rather than bypassed it (e.g., the wind which parted the Red Sea, Ex 14:21).
Second, there no longer is a concept of “absolute natural laws”; rather, a phenomenon which is not readily explainable (e.g., quasars) may reflect laws with which science is not yet fully conversant. In Scripture the element of faith is crucial; a natural approach cannot prove or disprove the presence of “miracle.” The timing and content of the process can be miraculous even though the event may seem natural. The consistent rationalist demonstrates the necessity of faith; he would place any so-called miracle in the category of unexplained phenomena rather than accept it as a pointer to the presence of God’s activity in the world. The revelatory significance is also important. In every case, God performed the miracle not merely as a “wonder” to inspire awe in man but as a “sign” to draw men to himself.”
If God used miracles to draw men to Him why would He cease using that method? And why would God deny the church the ability to use miracles to connect the lost back to God? Miracles are just one more means in God’s tool bag to accomplish is the ultimate goal, “to draw all men back to Him.”
Like the churches in Acts, when we are driven by mission we will also encounter conflict and disagreements. What separates missional churches from others is how they handle the conflict. Conflict is dealt with positively when the end goal is reconciliation. To be realistic, no religion can expect to avoid conflict. That would be nice, but the battle is part of the sinful human condition. But how we handle those differences speaks volumes to the world who is paying attention to the way Christians behave.
Imagine being a member of a church like this, where conflict is dealt with so that Christ wins in the end. An authentic missional church can be dynamic, but not without its flaws. If we can have just some of the results of the Acts churches wouldn’t that be a sight to behold?
Why are all these marks critical? Because we have an essential mission mandate to fulfill.
It is important to remember why we bother with this whole church thing anyway. It is all about God’s mission.
 Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Miracle. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1468). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
Other posts in this series:
Update on Pastor Salmon
Travelling Made Easier With Our Tips and Tricks
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