As families and social groups we experience emotional climates. Anyone walking into our home can feel whether it is a place of needs met or a constant state of flinch. As a child I preferred to play at Betty’s house rather than Phoebe’s. I lacked the vocabulary to explain, but I felt the difference.
I interviewed at a company whose office cast off tension and anxiety. I declined the job until the manager prevailed. 18 months later when I was financially able to quit, I could identify the players in the quivering cacophony. I had become one of them.
I described the office situation to a friend who traveled most of his working life. He recognized the situation immediately. Then with a wry smile he said, “As an auditor I was often the cause of their upset. But I remember a few companies where the people didn’t seem to be happy.”
We have experienced churches that gave off negative vibes as soon as we walked in the front door. There may have been a smiling greeter, but tension between the members muted any welcoming words. The sympathetic sounds we heard grated like fingernails down a chalk board.
Dr. Peter Steinke in his book, Healthy Congregations, writes “A healthy (congregation) is one that actively and responsibly addresses or heals its disturbances, not one with an absence of troubles.”