A man is rescued after many years on a desert island. As he stands on the deck of the rescuing vessel, the captain says to him, “I thought you were stranded alone. How come I can see three huts on the beach?”
“Well,” replies the castaway, “that one there is my house and that one there is where I go to church.”
“And the third one?” asks the skipper.
“Oh, that’s my old church.” (Wikipedia)
How many of us could drive through our town or city and say the same thing?
There are definitely a few biblical reasons for leaving a church and moving on to another, but I am convinced that most of the time, it has nothing to do with biblical reasoning or issues. And sadly, many of the stated “biblical issues” are not biblical at all. They are just strong preferences.
Wonder how many churches in your area are splits off of another church, and sometimes sadly are a split from even another church? Some church splits are due to personality clashes, arguments over a building project, music preference, translation issues, petty offenses, wrong interpretation of separation, perceived misconceptions, etc.
Then there are splits created by sins such as gossip, pride, sowing discord among the brethren, refusal to obey the biblical instructions of how to address conflicts, power-struggles, dictatorial leadership from pastors and/or deacons, unbiblical response to church discipline, bitterness, etc.
The point of this post is simply this.
- As spoken by Thom Rainer, “There is little good that comes from church splits.”
- God is bigger than any issue that creates a church split. Why not trust God? Everything man puts his hands to, he ruins. The flesh profits nothing.
- Prayer and humility is the answer, not gang warfare. We should be fighting in prayer not in corner groups, email or on social media. Even in situations of doctrinal deviation, patience and prayer should be the overriding mode of operation.
- Remember that every church is made up of sinners, hopefully saved by the grace of God, in desperate, daily need of God’s grace, and purchased by the blood of Christ. We are not our own (1 Corinthians 6:9-20). We are to be growing in grace everyday (2 Peter 3:18).
- Whatever issue causes that split, because of a lack of humble resolution, it is the reason for the “new church” to start. Is that a proper foundation? Will it last?
- The greater testimony for Christ in our communities should be repentance, reconciliation and rejoicing, not division, discord, and death.
- Consider please the following passages of Scripture before ever being a part of a church split: Proverbs 6:12-19; 13:10; 15:6; Romans 12:3-21; 13:10-14; 15:1-3; 15:5-6; Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 3:1-23; 10:31; Ephesians 4:1-3, 14-32; Philippians 1:12-18, 27; 1 John 4:7-20.
Sadly, the word “split” is more synonymous with “church” than the word “reproduction.” With the first, there is usually death. With the last, there is always life. Paul sums it up correctly in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17. May I suggest it this way—Are we of the _____________ version, or of ______________ism, or of _________________ denomination, or of ______________ college, or of ____________________ conference or . . . of Christ?
Oh that our eyes would ever be on Christ alone! (Hebrews 12:1-3) When we stand before Him at the Bema, He is all that will matter. It’s His Church anyway, not “my old church.”