By Jim Green, pastor of Morristown Christian Fellowship, Morristown –
Recently I attended a Revitalization Roadshow at Morristown Christian Fellowship. Arizona Southern Baptist Church Revitalization Specialist Keith Durham facilitated an excellent forum entitled “Dealing with Toxic People.”
Most would hope that toxic behavior within the church would not be a major issue, but as Keith explained, “Statistically, over 25% of pastors leave the church due to conflict.” What an important topic for church leaders to explore and discuss! I learned to recognize markers of toxic behavior, was given examples of practical steps in confronting toxic people and heard a plan to develop ways to be proactive versus reactive to destructive behavior.
The most engaging part of the Revitalization Roadshow was when the discussion turned to recognizing possible toxic behavior. We were given some identifying factors of toxic behavior. These factors in and of themselves were not necessarily foolproof in pinpointing destructive behavior but potentially help detect possible “red flags” that might usurp unity within the body of Christ. Several in the group spoke up and gave testimony of personal experiences where patterns that might indicate toxic behavior were observed in their church settings. Some shared examples of how they dealt either effectively or ineffectively with this destructive behavior, which was helpful for the rest of us.
Keith ended the Revitalization Roadshow by facilitating a discussion of the importance of being proactive in dealing with toxic behavior. Solid biblical truths were brought out that covered things like church discipline, equipping, teaching, leadership and administration. Each of these areas exposed the reality of consequences that could occur if they are not regularly examined and strengthened. If overlooked for too long, these are the things that could lead a church into decline and in need of revitalization.
Overall, Keith facilitated an engaging, educational and relevant opportunity, which was made possible because of the Cooperative Program giving of Arizona Southern Baptist churches.