The Problem of No Church Unity describes how to get church unity even though there is great conflict within the church.
THE BIGGEST PROBLEM today in the world is that people do not know the Savior as Savior. While many people, probably most people in English speaking countries have heard of the biblical Jesus, very few of them have a saving relationship with him. The second greatest problem is that of sanctification. Of the people who are really saved, many, many of them do not understand that salvation is from sin, and this starts now, at the moment of salvation, and between Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit working under the guidance of the Will of God the Father, they will wash actual sin out of the live of believers BEFORE they reach heaven.
Having planted the above foundation, most churches don’t have a clue about the above being their mission as a church from God. They are not evangelistic, or they are very isolated and cold in their evangelism, and holiness and godliness is not a high priority in the common person sitting in a pew.
When we take a step back from “church”, we wonder why we have so much conflict and differences between our people. That is because we cannot see the broader picture I presented above. When you lose sight or lower in priority evangelism and personal sanctification, then Satan enters as an enemy and very keenly uses our differences to cause conflict.
What causes Church Conflicts?
To be truthful, conflicts come because people are not “on the same page.” In other words, some want glory for the local church so they want fame and prestige. Conferences with big names in Christianity coming in and “shining” their ministries and the church hosting it is the most important thing. Others want comfort, so church air conditioning and padded pews are the highest priority. Others have young kids, and they are driving them crazy (because they don’t discipline them biblically) so a rally good children’s ministry, is the highest priority. Other parents have teens that are pregnant or using drugs or alcohol, or simply are being weird like Emos, or some other weird teen fad. They think the highest priority of the church is not losing the next generation. (News flash, we have already lost it over and over again in recent years.)
So what gives? All of these people are right, but wrong also. All of the above ARE PRIORITIES but they are not the highest priority. The reason why teens are such problems is because they do not have Christ in their heart as their Savior, and some that do, are not following Christ as his disciples. They need training in holiness, bringing Jesus Christ’s morality into their own lives.
Children that cause problems that are constant and grievous need correction of the rod. Here the parents need to study biblical child rearing and change their ways with their children.
The Principle of the Man of God is not Contentious
2Ti 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
Let me first say that God has chosen pastors, the leaders of a church, as his local examples of Christ. Although we see requirements for pastor or bishop, the understanding we should take away is that they are living the Christ-life before us, and all of us should also emulate the example of their lives, the Christ-life. The path we should all take. So this element of character of “not striving” or not being contentious is a requirement for every Christian.
If we look to the life of Christ, he fought greatly in his life with many elements. In his temptation he fought directly against temptation being tempted by Satan himself in person. We all fall into the same temptations and must fight against temptation. Jesus also fought against the hardness of sin in people’s lives in the element of witnessing to them of his salvation that he was offering them. This is another fight where we are to fight the good fight of the ministry, reaching people for Christ and teaching them to be Christlike (sanctification). These “fights” are things that we are to expend great energies and never feel bad at fighting the fight. In regard to maintaining pure doctrine against heresies and false understandings, we are never to stop fighting and never give up that fight.
But then we come to our relationships to one another. Here we must include our relationships to other preachers and churches. Some of these we see false doctrine and incorrect conduct. But we must remain courteous and cordial even though we do not give up our own doctrinal understandings and positions. We are not to strive. It is not to be in our nature.
So, what is striving? The kind of fighting that is good that I refer to above is purity to God’s Word and the Savior. That is required in a man of God. But there is a wrong striving which is simply the love of conflict and fight. We fight, but we always tend towards the peace of God.
Why Pastors have Conflicts with their Deacons and People
Yes, good topic. I have been a pastor for 35+ years, approaching 40 years. We have had conflicts in our church, and they break my heart. People have gotten mad and left us. Some have come back to our fellowship, and others have remained friends even with different opinions on some matter. Some are still mad at me, and in all honesty, I would not be surprised if they carry their conflicts with me to their dying day.
But I am in peace about all of this. Why? Because some of these issues (I cannot classify all in one group because they are very different) are simply obey God or not. Some people have approached me as pastor wanting me to expel others that they hate out of our fellowship. My question is always the same. What have they done? I clarify, I have a public service in having a church service, and the public is invited, and we will not have deacons at the door to check IDs and prevent some from entering. That is contrary to what we are.
Biblically, I am very limited as pastor. I can rebuke sin (which is a process beginning with establishing that sin in the life of somebody, praying for them, counseling them, etc), but the end of that process when they refuse to repent and abandon that sin is to publicly bring the person and issue before the congregation and tell them to treat that person as not saved. Even after that, we do not prohibit that person from coming into the meetings. We treat them as we would an unsaved visitor. Our fellowship is changed towards that person, but we do not “throw them out”. If they repent and fall again in sin, we work with them, pray for them.
I can also preach against heresy, false doctrine, unbiblical conduct. These particular things do not need to mention who is putting that out, although that would not be wrong to do so. But again, we preach against sin, we oppose open sin in the lives of our people, especially leaders, and absolutely in the lives of the church leaders, preachers, and teachers.
But in no case does the Bible give us warrant to be conflictive, to “like the fight”, or relish in plastering somebody in public option. These are not biblical traits of Christ, nor Christ’s ministers.
In general, I try to move the decision-making for non-biblical financial things to either a general vote of the congregation or let the other men in leadership decide. I try to stay out of those decisions.
The reason why pastors have such conflict with their people and their deacons is very simple. They have different views. To solve this, you first have to talk. The failure is always on that of the pastor’s side (remember I am a pastor of 35+ years).
Why do I blame the pastors?
Because good leadership is about moving people in a direction, in an activity. This is true in any organization in the world, secular or religious. Moving people is all about propaganda and convincing people by persuasion in speeches (sermons). If a pastor writes down his objectives, the things that he wants the church to do, and he prays about these things in a very defined and verbally expressed way, and then he makes a plan to persuade his people of these things one by one over time with expositional sermons on the issue, showing them how we are Christians need to do these things, then he will find that his conflict with his people is greatly reduced or totally gone.
He moves them to be on the same page as he is BEFORE any strong movements like making decisions is done.
Again, convince your people of your proposition weeks or months or years before you make a motion for your church to do it. Churches always build new buildings. Some don’t want to go into a building program and debt. They are right. It is not the best way, if some other way exists. A church can have two services with the same sermon/preacher in each, and a Sunday School opposite each one. That will help with overflow crowds.
But union or unity among a fellowship is always based on their views being the same, that all are on the same page.
That is the definition of unity. But most leaders seem to miss the link or step between different people being united and how that happens. It does not happen because some always have to give in the will of others, even if it is the pastor and deacon board, or majority. It happens only when saved people want to serve Christ together, and they are convinced about how to do that. That means if people oppose your plans, interview them and talk, talk extensively. Share your thinking and base everything on principles of Scripture. Sometimes the leaders can just be wrong. They need to be open to re-examining their position and changing it drastically if need be. Never assume you are always right. Before you start a project, take a poll and give the feelings of your people. Normally, your people are not leaders, and only leaders want the group to move forward, do great things for God. But the run of the mill member is not convinced of that “out of the box”. You, as a leader, have the task of convincing all of what the group should do, what is God’s will, and that basis should be on principles exposited from Scripture, cleanly, not twisting Scripture to get your way. The harder it is for you to use Scripture to support your ideas, the louder God is telling you to stop, re-examine what you are wanting and maybe just abort it or change it.
The Principle of the Wrath of Man does not work the Work of God.
James 1:20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
When we enter into conflict, arguments, and opposition of what some want for the work of God, we must keep our wits about us. Simply put, getting mad doesn’t work the work of God. If that is true, and it is, then we must discuss without getting emotional. We must plant our ideas and feelings as far as how the Holy Spirit is leading us in such a way as not being something that flashes up ungodly emotions.
The point is the ventilating of ill feelings towards others is not of God. Satan stirs these up. Maybe the issue of a building program has arisen in just a summer. But hatred that has been somewhat suppressed for the last twenty years of one family against another, one person against another, is always there. This building program is just another manifestation of that hidden hatred. A wise pastor will preach on loving the brethren as being a sign of salvation way before he starts the building program project. That needs to be deeply dealt with and often until it is put down as a sin.
The Problem of No Church Unity
More Posts on Church
- Things that ruin a Church: Dominating, Controlling, Manipulating Dictator-Pastor
- Things that ruin a Church: People
- Things that ruin a Church: Events that Decay pt 2
- Things that ruin a Church: Events that Decay pt 1
- Things that ruin a Church: Qualities that Destroy
- Church Advertisement that Works
- Changing Membership in the Local Church
- Satan’s Useful Idiots
Pastor David Cox is a missionary. See my ministry updates here.