Not everyone has the same level of understanding about what it takes to move an organization forward toward its ultimate goal. Not everyone is able to view the world from a positive perspective. Not everyone is able to put their ego aside for the greater good. This is the truth for all of us at different times. So what is the touchstone by which we can judge our reactions to what is going on around us? We have to ask ourselves a few questions.
Is my reaction just me being stubborn and wanting my own way or is it in the best interests of the church?
Am I really open to what others are saying or do I close them out because I believe they are rejecting me if they don't agree with me, and it makes me angry?
Am I being influenced by someone else's agenda?
Have I really thought this through with an open mind and heart?
A divergence of opinion can be healthy if those involved are willing to remember that the health of the church body should ultimately be the focus.
Although change is the underlying foundation of Unity, it is often change that causes the most unrest and resentment in a church. It is not uncommon for a minister to run headlong into congregants who are afraid to change the way things have always been done. You can fight change, but if you do so to hold tight to what is or try to rest on your laurels, the inevitable change will be some form of backsliding. So, change is inevitable; however, it requires awareness for that change to bring improvement into the life of the church. Failing to acknowledge this in your interactions will create stress within the church.
Takeover of Leadership
Often when a church has experienced a long interval without ministerial leadership or sporadic periods of time without proper leadership, a member or a small group of members will boldly step in and assume authority. In some instances, this may feel like a Band-Aid for perplexing times during the search for a minister. However, it can become a source of stress if this person or persons are self-serving or later attempt to challenge a new minister's authority.
Do they deliberately do this? It's difficult to say because power can be an intoxicating thing, whether it comes from being in charge or being successful at creating dissension. If the Board or the new minister do not step forward to correct the course of the church, it can destroy the church.
In Unity we value diversity. However, it is important that, in seeking representation of our own ideas, viewpoints, cultural values, etc. that we do not let these things negate the whole idea of diversity. Yes, diversity is about inclusiveness; however, diversity is actually about recognizing the differences between people without judgment. It is not about embracing every idea, preference, belief, etc. that crosses one's path. This is impossible.
In the world, being diverse means accepting that others do not always have the same background or attitudes as you do. Within the spiritual path called Unity, we accept that everyone on the planet has the right to choose their own spiritual path. However, in practicing this belief, it means that those of like mind, such as those attending a Unity church, choose to be with those whose philosophy is akin to theirs, desiring to expand their understanding from the foundation of Unity principles.
Conflict within the church can arise when focus is diverted from the spiritual path to trying to embrace every possible need or attitude or heritage of every member of the church. It is the responsibility of the individual member to embrace the Unity teachings, assimilate them, and practice them in their day-to-day lives.
In conclusion, this living organism we call church depends on each person in the church body to be responsible for acting in a way that eliminates stress rather than causing it. Practicing the true philosophy of Unity will accomplish this. The first step toward greater understanding in this journey toward practical Christianity is education, learning about your inner life so that your outer life can become more peaceful.