Many Church Divisions Are Caused By the Same Thing

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We tend to think churches split over disagreements on issues but typically churches split over personalities rather than issues. The issues are the symptom. The personality problems are the underlying cause.

Most church divisions could be avoided if we could get the personalities out of the ways…the factions and subgroups…those who follow Paul vs Apollos vs Jesus.

Some strong personalities cannot imagine being in a church where they don’t get their way. The reality is, it didn’t matter what the issue being discussed really was. Eventually it would have been something because personalities rarely change. People with these personalities can take a church captive and cause a tremendous amount of damage, undermining years of work.

The “doctrinal issue” is often a smoke screen or a scare tactic used to get people in line…to demonstrate this person’s ability to influence and control others.

They may not even be in leadership, often times they aren’t in leadership. Why? Because they want the power without the responsibility. That’s why they don’t mind dividing a church because they get to wield their power and influence without bearing the cost of the responsibility for the fallout and hurt that follow.

It takes strong leadership to resist people like this and often our leaders are volunteers who aren’t prepared to weather a battle like this or prevent the split from taking place. We need strong leaders with a strong relationship with both God and the flock and those two relationships must be formed far before the problems arise. This allows the congregation to trust their leaders through these difficult moments and determine the divisive people for who they are so that the whole church doesn’t have to suffer from the division…rather you can weed out the people who are causing the problems and handle it there.

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.” – Titus 3:9-11

8 Responses

  1. Right on target! We can’t have a projector or fellowship hall. Why? Too much like the digressives. What about instrumental music for a wedding? No way, people will think we condone the use of it in the assembly. One more question; Do you always get your way in this church?
    Of course, someone has to defend the faith. I know none of these things are addressed in the scriptures, but I don’t like any of them. That is the reason this faithful church doesn’t have/use any of them. Thank God someone will stand-up for the truth!

  2. Mission based communities

    Titus had a defined mission, he carried a commission certificate, and requirements document.

    His task was to establish teaching and modeling leadership

    What did they teach? Titus 3:1-8

    Xians are authorized on a mission by mission basis #sorties based on the charisms/gifts of the Spirit and their maturity in their ministry Acts 13:1-3

    Leave a soldier without a commission and evil often results

    Elders: fasting and praying and helping your spiritual community members see the gifts the Holy Spirit has given them. Then match them with a mentor (series of mentors). Then commission them (yes, $$$ from the church budget)

    Don’t lay your hands on hastily but don’t forsake the laying on of hands

    Despise not prophesy, but test, and keep what is good


  3. I would like to connect this with an email sent out through Wineskins, by Bobby Valentine, “Why are we in our current predicament?”
    Why do Churches split and Valentine’s article both have some interesting touching points. And, as I look through “our” history, I see the same cause reappear: Our “Theologians,” our ‘Ministers.’
    It is often not the “common member” (Is there such a person?), but an influential leader (Theologian, Minister) who starts off the discussion.
    Reading through the debates between brethren with influence, the topics etc., we can trace a number of our problems to their influence.
    Popular writers, popular speakers (Well, Dr. so-and-so said this, so who do you think YOU are to disagree?
    During the many debates on Marriage, Divirce and Re-marriage I was asked by a deacon of a supporting congregation if I agreed with Dr. Warren or Dr. Bales? When I tried to wiggle my way out of that one, “Well, the elders belief Dr. Warren to be correct, so it would behoove you to think so, too.”
    And that was not the only subject. Valentine mentions some topics – and the differences and schisms those have caused in our congregations!
    And Matt, in your article it deals with influential “regular” members of the congregation who do “not get their way.”
    I would like to suggest that such are much less the case than when our “Theologians” and “Ministers” are responsible for such splits. NOTE: I am not saying, Matt, that your situations are always innocent! I am very much aware of those issues, as well.
    But as we are “professionalizing” ministry more and more, we lay way too much responsibility in the hands of those “hired” helpers.
    When I happen to be in an environment where there is a number of those together, and I hear them speak of, “MY” church, I cringe! When did it ever become “MY” church?? And when this “MY” church is the common thought, then the One Whose church it REALLY is, get’s pushed out of the picture.
    When “we, the common members,” hand over the reigns to the professionals, things are guaranteed to go wrong.
    When Theologians and/or ministers push their own conclusions down the congregation’s throat, dissatisfaction will occur. Even more so then when br. Smith/Jones/Adams/Carpenter or whomever has an issue!
    We have to get beck to the congregational involvement, call it the mutual edification model, or whatever. But the Body is either a “priesthood of all believers” or it dies.
    Yes, br. Jones with his hobby-horse can be a nuisance. But Dr. Jones with his degree is a by far greater issue – “After all, he studied all of this…”
    As said before: I am all for education. Learn as much and as diverse as you can accomplish. But that should never, ever, make the “learned one” the “authority…” Re. Valentine’s article!
    When Israel is in trouble, it is the leaders (Priests, Prophets, Kings, and Judges) who are called to account… A good lesson for 2022, too, I would think… They are accountable for leading the people of God astray then… Maybe a word of warning, too,… “Let not many of you be teachers”

    1. There are differences in splits: local vs. association. On a local level, I agree with Matt, its a personal conflict,, but when talking about the association of local churches it usually revolves around an issue of some sort that is seen as a wedge. ..such as IM, and is led by the elite in these groups. Many years ago Divorce and Remarraige was a dividing issue, but the division was essentially smothered.

  4. In a general sense I agree with your writing. What I teach is that Christianity is conditional and firm it is also freewill and from the heart. Not because you have been pressured and stressed to conform rather than obey from the heart. Yes we need absolute compliance with matters of faith and we need to be careful not to make many of our opinions the law of the land. An exception is that we need to recognize some opinions are the best judgement of applying scripture to American culture.

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