I just read about a church in Indiana that is going through a great deal of turmoil. It is a church that experienced incredible growth to about 3,500 in attendance. I don’t know what will become of it. But recently, the elders of the church asked the two “lead pastors” at their two campuses to resign or be fired. Apparently the reasons boiled down to control. The elders did not like the efforts of these two preachers to lead the church into more of an outward focus and leaving behind traditional methods.
One of the ministers graciously resigned due to his fear that it would cause disunity to stay and fight it out. He fears the publicity will negatively affect the witness of the church to the community. The other minister refused to resign and says it’s worth fighting for.
All of this was played out on the Television news media in the area. And it is saddening to me.
The passage that came to mind was 1 Corinthians 6 where Paul spoke about lawsuits between fellow believers being settled in the public court system. Paul asked them why they laid their differences out among those who are not in the church. He then said, “Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?” (1 Cor. 6:5-7).
I believe the one minister’s response of leaving was the best thing to do. He just announced it last week and is urging people who support him to stay and not let this destroy that congregation. The response of the other man? I am not the judge of course, but in my opinion, to stay when the eldership asked him to resign is only going to do more damage.
Christians SHOULD be able to work out differences in a way that is pleasing to God. Even if it means going separate ways – as was the case with Paul and Barnabas on one occasion (Acts 15:36-41). It is possible to do this like they did without turning brothers and sisters against one another and maintaining a loving spirit amid the differences of opinions. When it is played out like it often is in some churches, the only one who has a victory is NOT the side that gets its way. The one with the victory in that scenario is the enemy of the church – the great liar Satan.
All of us need to examine ourselves and ask God to search our hearts and protect us from the attacks and the influence of this vile enemy who is sometimes so sneaky while at other times so blatant. Without realizing it, we can become conduits for his purposes all the while thinking we are upholding the purposes of God.
This is why we must focus our prayers and conversations to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love each other. We need to promote unity and talk out our differences in the love of Christ.