Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Could 38,000 Christian denominations be wrong?

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 1 Corinthians 1:10

How many churches were in Corinth? One. There was one church in Corinth. You could go to any church you chose, as long as it was the Corinthian church. If you left the church of Corinth, you didn’t go to church. Laodicea was too far to commute.

Today, we have many choices. In fact, according to Wikipedia, there are about 38,000 Christian denominations in the world. There are about 400,000 churches in the United States. There are 75 churches within 10 miles of Brookwood Church. If I don’t agree with you, I have plenty of other choices. If you don’t agree with me, then I’ll just find another church who does.

The Corinthians didn’t have this choice. I would daresay that they were better off. Why? It was essential for the believers to work out their differences so that the mission could be carried out and so that the work of Christ could flourish in their lives. The significance of unity stems from our willingness to lay aside our stubbornness and pride and to show humility. That doesn’t mean that we simply agree with what everyone else wants to do, but it also doesn’t mean than we become obstinate. We actually try to work things out.

The church is not the place for people to lord it over each other (Luke 22:24-26). The church is to be different from the world. It’s not just the powerful or the wealthy that have a say. It’s a place where everyone has a say. And, it’s a place where we give others the same consideration than we expect from them.

Unity takes effort. Unity takes time. If it’s “my way or the highway,” then no wonder the highways are so crowded.

What should we be united on? We should be united on the things that are essential to our faith: God, His Word, His Son, His salvation, His work on this earth, and His return. When it comes to methods, we need to be flexible. When we don’t understand something, we should take the time to gain understanding.

It’s not wrong to disagree. But, it is wrong to create division. Humility says that “I’m not right about everything all of the time.” Ego says, “I’ll never back down.”

Where are you at these days? How are you tempted to create division? Where might you need to back down? After all, it may be more important to be humble than to be right.

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  1. Greenville Connect?

  2. Interesting timing. Most of my family is looking at leaving Brookwood because we feel a division. There seems to be a lot of back chatter and less connection than in the past. I appreciate all of your messages and have to pray more on this one.

  3. It's interesting how when I plan out topics for devotionals months in advance that God orchestrates impecable timing.

    I am sorry to hear about the turmoil in your family regarding church. This happens in every church. At a church like Brookwood with thousands of people, you could only imagine how that multiplies at times.

    Often when things get tough in church, there is a temptation to find another church. But, to grow spiritually, it's better to stay and work through the issues. In the past, I have even called former pastors and sent members back to their previous church to work out a situation. Why? Because even if it would be great to have a new leader that's ready to work at your church, it's not the best thing for that person or for their former church body.

    The hardships, strife and even divisions that we face are often the tools that God wants to use to grow us up spiritually and develop our character. Sometimes avoiding tough situations causes us to miss God's work in our lives.

    I don't say this lightly. When I was 26-years-old, I had to confront my Senior Pastor about a sin in his life that later caused him to resign. That's the last thing in the world that I wanted to do. I would have much rather floated my resume and moved on than have to face months and months of agony. It was one of the hardest things that I've ever been through, but it was necessary for that church to be where it's at today. If we hadn't dealt with the hard things, that church would have died.

    Let me give you a couple of things to think about:

    1. Are the concerns and issues a matter of biblical standards? Are the divisions being caused because biblical principles are not being followed? Or, are divisions appearing over personal preference, unverified perceptions, or personal ambition?

    2. If the issues stem from what is regarded as unbiblical conduct by the leadership of the church, then we certainly need to sit down and talk this out?

    3. If the divisions are being caused from personal preferences, rumors, unverified perceptions, or someone's personal ambition, then it would probably be good for folks to examine their motives. Sometimes I can work up a big head of steam only to later to discover that it was a big misunderstanding.

    Let me assure you of this: the leadership of Brookwood Church are reasonable people. Now, I didn't say "perfect," but any of the pastors or trustees would be more than happy to sit down with anyone who has a concern, large or small.

    If you would like to discuss this with me further, please email me directly:

    I will pray for you and your family.