Church in the Cliff has been through some transitions in the past five years. I say, “transitions,” but anyone who has been around through that time knows that I really mean “meltdowns.” As with any group of human beings that try to get together and sustain relationships, there is sometimes conflict. That is unavoidable. However, what we do with conflict is an ongoing practice. We are about to go through another transition: we’re going to have a building.
I’m excited about this. For years, we have endeavored in ministry in a space to which we only had access four hours each week. This severely limits what we can do in a service because we have to set up and tear down each Sunday. Any time we want to have dinners or Bible studies or board meetings, we have to find someone’s home to meet in. It’s all pretty exhausting. A building will allow us to expand our work and create a home. But if you grew up in a home, you know it is not always peace and harmony.
Part of the luxury of being small and mobile and flexible is that there’s not a lot to fight about. The open secret of many church splits is that they begin over conflict about carpet color and whether to buy new pews or invest in a food pantry. Legend has it that one Church in the Cliff founder broke from one of our parental churches because she thought that the expense of a new parking lot was ridiculous when there were so many in need. I don’t know if it happened that way, but I’m certain it is true. Staking a claim to property brings new opportunities for conflict as we all become invested in that property and its use. Personally, I don’t have the energy for another “transition” and I’m not sure it is the best witness to the peace and love that we proclaim.
So perhaps it is good that the lectionary this week brings us some advice for dealing with conflict. Understand this is not a commentary on where we are now, but something to consider for where we might find ourselves, or in our lives outside the church. There will be conflict, maybe not over carpet, but perhaps an argument over whether to create a meditation room or a feral cat domestication center. (Y’all know where I stand!) Regardless of the issue, we must have ways of resolving conflict that ensure that everyone is heard and decisions are made together. Our commitments to one another must endure disagreement and even the horror of not getting our way. The value of our life together must be greater than our individual desires.
Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Kidd Springs Rec Center, as we discuss how to resolve conflict in peace. We’ll talk about what Paul (Romans 13.8-14) and Matthew (18.15-20) have to say about it and maybe some things they missed. See you there!
Grace & Peace,