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Difficult Conversations - November 2022
The conversations that make you angry, frustrated, weary or plain hopeless.

This is something as church leaders you are quite familiar with. Whether it's pandemic regulations, political views, social issues, differences regarding theological interpretations, worship styles, and sometimes even things like the colour of the carpet - the diversity of opinions is a significant part of our church reality.

More importantly is knowing how to interact in these difficult conversations with much wisdom and the grace of God. Even if we desire to approach these situations in the right way, sometimes we just don't know what to do. Keep reading to hear from two of our seasoned and godly transitional pastors as they help us navigate difficult conversations.
Charitable Judgement

Difficult conversations. Stressful situations.
Conflict.

How do we navigate these things as the people of God? The way we handle these conflicts - our words, action, tone - must somehow bring glory to God.

VMC’s transitional pastor Doug Loveday says the key is charitable judgement. This means taking responsibility for our own stuff - what can I apologize for first? It means checking our own hearts - is there anger or frustration that needs to be dealt with? And this means assuming the best of the other person’s character. Reminding ourselves that there must a reason why this person is acting this way. Asking for greater understanding. Being humble and yet, courageous.

And finally - catch conflict early and dialogue early. Often, the longer we wait the more difficult things are.

The grace of God is with us and, amazingly, we have the Spirit in us - eager and ready to comfort and discomfort, guide and strengthen.
May we live and abide in the Spirit - together as the body of Christ.

- Doug Loveday, VMC Transitional Pastor

Photo credits: Sina Katirachi (Unsplash)
Self Examination & Compassion

Being in ministry means people - 
which inevitably means disagreements, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings.

Jon Dart, Transitional Pastor for VMC, has experienced and led congregations through a few of these sorts of situations and has learned much over the years.

He encourages people to take some time before the conversation happens. Pray. See if there’s a log in your own eye. Ask the Spirit to expose anything in your own life that needs to be dealt with first. Clothe yourself in humility. Move forward with compassion for the other person.

Sometimes leaders have to make difficult confrontations and hard decisions, especially if there has been intentional wrongdoing. But even then, Jon urges for a tone that is marked by grief, not indignation or shame.

May God grant each of you wisdom and discernment as you navigate difficult conversations and hard situations. After all, we have a God who hears our cries for help and loves our congregations and communities more than we do.

- Jon Dart, VMC Transitional Pastor

Photo credits: christina@wocintechchat.com
As we "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace," we need to figure out conflict resolution (Eph 4:3). This little book is easy to read and practical. Authors Sande and Johnson start off by talking about the nature of conflict and turning to the Scriptures for hope and guidance. Then they provide practical guidance in terms of working through a difficult situation: The 4Gs are Go higher, Get real, Gently engage, and Get together. Might be ideal for a leadership team or even small groups.
In terms of good confession, here's two bit of advice:

"If I'm only 2% responsible for a conflict, I'm 100% responsible for that 2%."

"Authentic confession means getting past cheap phrases like 'I'm sorry if I hurt you,' 'Let's just forget it,' and 'I guess it's not all your fault'."
A secular book about conflict resolution that offers practical wisdom and strategies for difficult conversations. The idea is that whenever we find ourselves in a tight situation, there is a crucial conversation that needs to happen. A crucial conversation is defined as" a discussion between two or more people where stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong." Instead of running away from these conversations, this book encourages us to stay at the table. Here's one interesting quote from the book:

“Respect is like air. As long as it's present, nobody thinks about it. But if you take it away, it's all that people can think about. The instant people perceive disrespect in a conversation, the interaction is no longer about the original purpose—it is now about defending dignity.” 
Hunger Crisis in South Ethiopia

VMC’s relief and development partner, Tearfund Canada, is currently responding to a major crisis in Southern Ethiopia with plans to distribute 1.3 million kilograms of food. After three years of drought, over a million people in the Borena region are facing severe food shortages and the needs are many.

Tearfund is asking Canadian churches and congregations to donate $400,000 towards this $2.2 million project. Every dollar donated will be matched 4:1 through the Foodgrains Bank and the Government of Canada.

You can help by making this need known to your congregation, taking up a special offering or making this need a year-end giving project.
Tearfund has prepared a handout, PowerPoint slides and more to share along with this video recently filmed in the region.
VMC Storytelling
Every week, we share stories from across our network of churches - on Facebook, Instagram and our website - that show how God is at work in and through His people.

Here are a few stories:
Pastoral Care - Hollydene Community Church
From Aleppo to Calgary - Varsity Bible Church
Missional Families - Citizens Church
20 Years of Waiting - Chin Baptist Church

Watch for more stories by following us on Facebook, or Instagram or visit vision-ministries.org/stories
Pray with us! Monthly VMC Prayer Meetings
Please join us as we pray online together for our VMC churches and leaders.
  
To sign up or request further information contact Mike Stone at mike.stone@vision-ministries.org

The VMC prayer team gathers on the first Thursday of the month at the following times across the country:  1:00-2:00pm (Atlantic), Noon-1:00pm (Eastern), 11:00-Noon (Central), 10:00-11:00am (Mountain) and 9:00-10:00am (Pacific).
Click the link below for the full poster:

WayBase is a digital platform that helps churches and people connect and work together for good. It has two components: a website and a mobile app. The WayBase website helps Christian leaders connect and work together to serve the greatest needs in their area. Engage is a new discipleship app that helps church communities connect in meaningful ways and engage spiritual life in a new way.

All VMC churches have access to a pre-paid subscription, along with training, resources, and workshops from the Waybase team. Sign up today at www.waybase.com/vmc