I was wondering how long it would take before the honeymoon was over in this church plant and it looks like a little over a year. At least I am just now beginning to hear the rumblings of negativity from within. I'm sure that means they have been there longer. Hmmm...
So this week I want to talk about how to deal with negative people. The only way you won't have to deal with negative people is if you never do anything. As long as you play it safe and do things along the status quo no one will ever go negative on you. BUT, if you are planting a church my guess is that is one of the reasons you are planting. You can't stand the thought of doing another year of ministry in the status quo. Bottom line: You will be criticized and complained about! (Encouraging right?)
Negativity is a disease. And if it is left unchecked will eat away at the very foundation of your ministry. In a church planting context this can be especially devastating because negativity will come from the place you least expected it. Those brave souls that first started this venture with you will be the first to go negative.
Why? Because they have the big fish, little pond syndrome. In the beginning they were a big fish in a little pond. They had your ear. They could get to you. They felt like their opinion mattered. Move past 100 people and start bringing on some staff and BOOM. They are no longer the "leaders" of the church and they have become a little fish in a big pond. Sound harsh? Just ask any planter and they will tell you the first people to bail on them were the founding members.
So what do you do? How do you deal with negative people? How do you keep from grumbling under your breath every time you see them? Just one piece of this today and the rest you will have to come back for:
First: DON'T GET DOWN IN THE MUD WITH THEM! That is what they want. They want you to open up a dialogue with them and waste precious ministry time chasing negativity. Stay above the fray! You will never convince them or be able to explain things to their satisfaction. You will never be able to give them enough facts or explain the vision clearly enough. Thank them for their input but don't get in the middle of it and think you have to defend yourself or explain yourself. Stay above the fray! Read the story of Nehemiah and how he handled his critics. That will be some good reading until PART 2 of how to handle negative people.