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.
“9 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