Again, thanks to pastor Thabiti Anyabwile for the permission to post his words here.
It seems to me that some churches split because someone ignored the warning signs for far too long. They heard the fearful cries of the villagers on the outskirts of the city when the enemy first struck, but they did not sound the alarm. They could see from afar off the smoke rising from the battle, but they did not blow the horn. There are those of us who have been called to be watchmen upon the wall, and there are those among us who like sentinels are scouting the area for trouble and opportunity. We must be faithful in reporting and responding to what we see and what we find.
What do I mean? Take elders and deacons, for example. As leaders in the body, serving as “shock absorbers” is one part of our responsibility. This is a perspective I picked up from the brothers at CHBC. When a disgruntled parent in the nursery, or a member offended at a sermon, or disaffection in the ranks is first observed, do we as elders and leaders absorb that shock or do we multiply it? Do we understand that we have an opportunity to diffuse a situation before it multiplies? Do we recognize that very often a certain nod of the head, knowing sly smile, shrug of the shoulders, or raising of the brow signals to our people that we agree or approve of their actions, which tear away at the relational foundation of the church?
More damage is done with a facial expression or body language from a leader who fails to be a shock absorber than by any number of petty pains or hurts that weak or wounded sheep may express. Our job is to absorb these minor shocks to the body like a black hole, to submerge them into the deep void of forgiveness, and to work to make sure the complaint is heard, addressed appropriately (which could range from resolving a real problem to rebuking a sinning sibling), and stopped with us.