A pastor visited a church he once served. He ran into George who had been an Elder and leader in
The church, but who wasn’t serving there any longer. The pastor asked, “George, what happened? You used to be there every time the doors opened.” “Well, Pastor,” said George, “a difference of opinion arose in the church. Some of us couldn’t accept the final decision and we established a church of our own.” “Is that where you worship now?” “No,” answered George, “We found that there too, the people were not faithful and a small group of us began meeting in a rented hall at night.” “Has that proven satisfactory?” asked the pastor. “No, I can’t say that it has,” George responded. “Satan was active even in that fellowship, so my wife and I withdrew and began to worship on Sunday at home by ourselves.” “Then at last you have found inner peace?” asked the pastor. “No, I’m afraid we haven’t,” George said. “Even my wile began to develop ideas I was not comfortable with, so now she worships in the northeast corner of the living room, and I am in the southwest corner.”
This is the kind of story that creates nightmares for pastors. Everywhere you go you find churches that have formed from a split, churches that have produced a split or churches that are undergoing a split. In every church I know of, there are enough strong feelings about opposing points of view to blow them completely out of the water. What makes some of those churches survive and grow while others continue to divide?
I think the answer to that has to do with two things: “Mission” and “Family.” If a church feels a mission to accomplish a given project or goal it tends to put differences aside in order to cooperate with the goal. This explains why some churches experience their worst trials following the completion of a building program. The goal was obvious and everyone wanted to reach it. But, when a goal is reached, what then? Problems which were temporarily put aside now begin to compete for attention. The second factor—family—has to do with relationships. People must bond together rather than just sit together for family to be formed. Do we provide the opportunities necessary for our people to know each other as real people struggling to grow and mature in Christ? When left on the fringes with no personal involvement or attachments, people feel little loyalty or motivation to continue with a church.
It is our hope that those who visit us will resist the temptation of our culture to remain uninvolved, but will, instead, plunge into the work with us as partners in ministry to our community and open their lives to become family. We need you and are praying for you.
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship