Home > Uncategorized > The Middle School Mentality of the Church

The Middle School Mentality of the Church

The Church, Men and Women, Behaves Much like Middle-School Girls.

I remember being in middle school.  Those were some of the roughest years of my life!  I was on the fringe of the “popular” crowd, only because some of my friends from elementary school were now in that group.  I didn’t have fashionable clothes.  In fact, we got hand-me-downs that a lot of the time were pants that so obviously looked as though I was prepared for a tremendous flood, if you know what I mean.  My mom was recently divorced.  We took what we could get!  I didn’t realize that I was “improperly” dressed until about seventh grade when those who were supposed to be my friends would make fun of me.  It wasn’t until I was probably a junior in high school before I felt somewhat comfortable to walk to the front of the class.  I was horrified, before this.  Kids would snicker and joke about my appearance.  I would try to hold the ends of my jeans down so they didn’t look so bad.

What’s so amazing to me that even now, in my thirties, is that I notice grown men and women behaving so similarly to those middle school years.  Talking about each other behind backs, playing the “silent treatment,” and avoiding deep, albeit, genuinely painful conversations, are all games that have been perfected in adulthood.

Sadly, this kind of mentality is thematic in the church.  Where we should be comfortable being real with each other, able to communicate when we are hurt, confused, or frustrated, we are shunned, talked about to everyone, but each other, and unsupported in vulnerability and humility.

What is wrong with this picture?

I’m not talking about pervading, sinful behavior that should be addressed amongst fellow believers which should be addressed in a specified way.  Here is what Matthew 18:15-17 says,

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

Ignoring these instructions when you feel you have been wronged is unbiblical and is divisive in the church.  It is necessary to pray for wisdom and discernment to know what things should be discussed and when there are issues that we are just to let go and move forward in a relationship.  This is something I have had to learn.  Understand, that not all people are meant to be kindred spirits.  We all have acquaintances, mentors, casual friends, and lifelong friends.  Throughout my life, I have learned that often there are seasons in friendship.  Through the passing of one season, another comes and fertilizes another friendship that is meant to bring us through that season’s particular highs and lows.

But, I am a firm believer in communication.  It is very difficult for me to let go if I truly believe that there is an issue between me and a brother or sister in Christ.  I don’t do “fake” very well.  I have had to plead for the Lord to help me know when I have a “hang up” or if there is genuinely a situation that needs addressing.

In all situations, I believe it most VITAL to go to the person directly!  This point cannot be stated strongly enough!!

I cannot understand where people in the church have gotten the idea that simply avoiding it or talking about it to everyone else is healthy.  It is wrong.  There is a time for mentorship and godly wisdom from another person, but most often people check their sensibilities at the door and share information that should be directly worked out with the “offender” personally and directly.  How often have I heard (or said, if I am being perfectly honest), “I’m not trying to gossip, but…”

At that point, it would do us all well and good to shut our traps or pinch the lips of the one talking!!!! 

If you have to preface what you are saying with the word “gossip,” justifying what you are about to say – Don’t. Say It.  If you can’t say something directly to the person with whom there is an issue – Shut. It.  (That’s from the Ferryman.I.V. translation, btw.)

Please don’t misunderstand, there are certain people in our lives who we need to be able to rely upon for wisdom and those who we need to slap us upside the head if we are in the wrong.  That is specifically why Matthew implores that we bring another person with us to the “offender” if they won’t listen to us.  This way, everyone knows and hears what is said.  No one has to guess what was said outside of our presence and without our “side to the story.”

That’s the term, “Can I get a witness?”

When we have an “unbiased witness” to the conversation there is no need to preface our words.  Further, prayer and working through the conflict can take place.  And finally, when we do this the way the biblical model lays out, we know that the person is genuine and wants to truly a.) work out a difference of opinion or agree to disagree OR b.) confront sinful behavior in the godliest, most loving way possible.

Without using this model for confrontation, we risk our reputation, our intent, and our motive for behavior. Anything else is unbiblical, unhealthy, uncaring, and unproductive. 

It’s no wonder the world often thinks we are nothing, but hypocrites and backbiters!!  If we can’t even treat each other with kindness and respect, how on earth, do you think that we can win someone over in the world?  Why would they want that in a formalized, legalistic institution when they can find that down on the corner, right now?

It’s time to grow up, people!

I’ve certainly had to do some of that in the last couple years.  If you have wronged someone – go to them and apologize.  Attempt to make it right!  If they refuse to listen, pray for them.  Trust takes time when it is broken.  If someone comes to you, genuinely to work things out and you refuse – the ball is now in your court.  Boundaries are certainly appropriate, but only in the context of the biblical model set forth here.  If you have skipped, ignored, or inserted your own steps, it has now become an unbiblical, unhealthy, unproductive, and uncaring model that is catering to your own wants.  The bible is meant for us to obey in and through all things.  It is a lamp unto our feet and a manual for appropriate, godly behavior.  We seek His truth – not our own.  Respect, vulnerability, and honesty are never easy, but we are commanded to move through conflict in the manner set forth in His word.  When we accept Christ we relinquish our personal rights for His way of thinking.

If someone has wronged you – go to them, in love.  Pray first for humility and wisdom.  Pray for the right time and venue for confrontation and pray for the Lord to reveal any wrong you may have committed in the situation.  So often, we want to point fingers at another person when in reality, the Lord is trying to prune out the maladaptive behaviors in our own lives.

“Lord, change him!!!”

How many times have we listened to a sermon, read scripture, or heard an inspirational word and thought, “Wow________________ needs to hear this!!!” Not that there are not times where we find something to encourage someone else.  Encouragement is one thing.  Blame and “guilting” someone is highly another.  Again, if there is just cause for biblical confrontation, there is a model for that.  See above in Matthew 18.

Here is what God’s word says about blaming another person,

Matthew 7

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

I’ll have more to say on this topic, but for now I’ll leave it to the professional, inspirational writers.  He is challenging me as I read, study, and write.  Know that I don’t have it all figured out, I’m just highlighting what I see in Scripture, in the church, and in my experience.  May God add to the blessing of His word as it works to change our hearts and minds….

Galatians 6:10

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

I Thessalonians 15:13-15

13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. September 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    This is an issue in almost all organizations. We have Family Readiness Groups in the Army. We have to work really hard to control gossip and hope everyone plays nice. It’s really sad that adults act this way.

    • Order in the Quart!
      September 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm

      I know. None of us are perfect, however, there is a vicious streak of this behavior that is very distasteful. You are right, it is prevalent in all organizations. The really sad thing is that the church is to be set apart from all other organizations. This is not a reason to not be involved in the church, but as I said, it is a reason that people are hesitant or unwilling. Everyone has to remember that the church is made up of imperfect people! But, the humility that is lacking, I believe, is what is the crux of the matter.

  2. Robin
    May 21, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Great article! Just what I needed for clarity, thank you!

    • Order in the Quart!
      May 24, 2012 at 1:24 am

      Thanks, Robin! God bless you!

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