Preaching Tool Question 5: What opportunities can I take to promote attitudes and actions that nurture healthy relational practice and experience?

Understanding the issues

From the story of God’s creation we understand the inherent dignity and worth of each person created in His very image. The redemptive work of Jesus and the transformative power of God’s Spirit offers an alternate cultural shaping. As we are made one with Him and one another we nurture both individual and mutual flourishing. The tenets of sacrificial love, humility and servanthood encourage relationships at their best.

Possibilities to watch out for

The pastor was reading Ephesians 4:8, about the Spirit giving gifts to men, I wondered does that mean women don’t get gifts? Every time I hear the pastor read a verse using the word ‘man’ to mean all humans, I feel a little invisible. I don’t say anything because I told want to be told I’m over sensitive or being ridiculous.

For Example:

When I’m preaching on …Can I include …
CreationThe value and inherent dignity of all persons created in God’s image.
Male and female are together called to God’s purposes.
Marriage is God’s idea and we are called to honour and value one another within it.
Sin and the FallBroken relationships are a consequence of sin and need restoration.
Redemption includes restored relationship with God and with one another.
Old TestamentGod uses his power not to dominate but to love, protect and care.
Israel was called to model radical relationships within community to reflect God’s character and show a different way.
God champions the cause of the marginalised and vulnerable.
GospelsJesus models healthy relationships with all persons.
Jesus elevates and honours women, the vulnerable and the marginalised in particular.
Jesus uses power on behalf of others, never for himself.
The Church and its missionThe church models love to one another that is patient, kind, self-sacrificing and humble. This is required of men and women.
In Christ, the dividing walls between male and female are broken down and we can truly be one.
The church is family to one another, giving us responsibility and accountability towards one another as sisters and brothers.
Conflict is to be expected but can be resolved in mutual love and respect.
Followers of Jesus live out their faith in every area of life, including marriage and sexuality.
The gospel is good news for a broken world and invites us into a new family of restored relationships.
New CreationJesus is working to make us one people, with no divisions between men and women, or people of different status, class or race.
Our hope is in the renewal of all things, including restored relationships once and for all.

Practical suggestions

Name & speak regularly to relational values

Humility, grace, mutual submission, gentleness as Christian qualities – not just female qualities. Ask what does it mean in our culture for men to show humility, grace, submission and gentleness – it is counter cultural.

Provide tools and resources in your church that help people practice good communication, assertive communication and healthy confrontation.

Reinforce a positive relational model

In your relationships have the same attitude as Christ.

Imagine our strength in our witness to God if Christian communities could be places where women are safe and more than that, where women can flourish. Imagine if, in our society Christian men had a reputation for being so safe and respectful towards women that everyone in society would know the Church as the place where women can find refuge.

Further resources

Trigger warning: Domestic abuse, pornography, conflict and relationships

VIDEOS

Prayers of Paul

Brian Harris, Director, AVENIR Leadership Institute 

“Navigating Family Conflict in Healthy Relationships”

Brian Harris, Director, AVENIR Leadership Institute 

“Honest Human Pastors Create Safer Spaces”

Mandy Smith, Pastor, Speaker, Author of “The Vulnerable Pastor”

“Pornography and Domestic Abuse”:

Elissa Macpherson, President of Baptist Women of the Pacific, Vice-President of Baptist World Alliance Women
Letiitia Shelton, Author and CEO City Women

“Preventing Abuse by Promoting Healthy Relationships”:

Carolyn Cousins Director, Tuned in Consulting and Convenor of the Clinical Division of the Australian College of Social Work, Chair of Baptist Association NSW & ACT Standards Committee
Chloe Randall, Counselor and Psychotherapist, SA
Nathan Randall, Senior Pastor Enfield Baptist Church, SA

“Safety for People with a Disability”:

Natasha Bennet, Facilitator for the Circles Initiative of the Community Living Project