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Speaking kindness

When did you last say a kind word about your pastor and church? Historic First Baptist Charleston leads in building unity in the body.

I have given my share of “suggestions” to the pastors of churches I have attended as a board member and as just a guy in the pew. They weren’t always taken well. Possibly because most of the churches were content to be about maintenance than mission. At one church in particular, after suggesting changes toward growing the church, the pastor said to me, “I’m no Bill Hybels.”

Well, Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek church was just 50 miles away. So I began driving there on Sundays – and it confirmed my suspicion that “there was a better way to do church.”  I still love that famous quote of Bill’s, “There’s nothing like the local church when the local church is working right.”

What is there about churches that can bring out the “critic” in us? Well, for the First Baptist Church of Charleston, SC, June 3 was a different sort of day – it was the Sixth Annual Say Something Nice Sunday. Mitch Carnell, a member of that congregation who originated the idea, says “as bullying has escalated in all walks of life, including some churches, the imperative to be more Christ-like in our speech takes on even greater significance.”

First Baptist Charleston passed a resolution in 2006 calling for at least one day when Christians would not say anything derogatory toward other Christians or Christian body, but instead would say only nice things.

The Charleston Baptist Association passed the same resolution, and getting on board were other Baptist units as well. The movement took an ecumenical turn when in 2009 the Catholic Diocese of Charleston joined. Catholic Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan endorsed the program.

One might think this is all just what we might expect from Southern-style courtesy. But Marshall Blalock, pastor of First Baptist Charleston, notes that “our words express what is in our hearts.”

The Charleston congregation also has produced materials that encourage people to say something nice in the workplace with the theme “Be a Lifter @ Work.” “A lifter,” says the brochure, “is someone who always finds something positive to say to every person she or he meets. The lifter is not artificial or gushy, but sincerely looks for ways to boost the spirits of those with whom he or she meets during every waking hour. Greet people. Smile at them. Acknowledge others and make their day brighter by saying something encouraging.”

Banish the put-downs, build up people, lift their spirits, pass on a compliment. Or as the 1940s song says “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” Now, wouldn’t that be a great church?

Got a question or comment? Email Ron@ChurchExecutive.com

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