By Garry Knighton
Church of Christ/North - Shreveport, La.
UNDERSTANDING CHURCH CONFLICT
This lesson is being presented in preparation for the future. This does not necessarily mean
that there is a church conflict going on, or that one is brewing. It is simply preventive medicine.
Anytime two or more people get together there is conflict.
Marriages, business, churches, etc.
Churches seem to intensify this problem.
God's people should not fight each other.
Ought to get along better than any other people on the earth.
Brethren often fight like they are bitter enemies.
Feelings get hurt, egos get stepped on, words cut deep and wounds are remembered for a lifetime.
Children are exposed to warfare that will produce prejudice against the church for a lifetime.
The community sees the church as a weak, sickly, institutionalized denomination just like almost every other church in town.
We are quick to discipline our children when they fight to let them know that kind of behavior is unacceptable.
Responsible parents know they must do this.
Consistency demands it.
What do churches do? NOTHING!!!
We sweep it under the rug, wait for the smoke to clear and pray for peace.
Just ignore the problem.
We should stop it before it happens.
In this lesson, let's notice some things about CHURCH CONFLICT and see if there are some preventive
measures that we can take to prevent it from happening.
CHURCH PROBLEMS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.
The N.T. church had to deal with the problem of church conflict many times - (I Corinthians 1:10).
For the most part, their problems were much different from ours today. (Not in every case, of course).
Most of theirs were doctrinal matters. Only a few were personality problems.
Some of the N.T. churches and their problems.
Preacheritus - I Cor. 1-4.
Immorality - I Cor. 5
Lawsuits - I Cor. 6:1-11.
Sexual promiscuity - I Cor. 6:12-20.
Purity in marriage - I Cor. 7.
Conscience problems - I Cor. 8:1-11:1.
Women out of their sphere of authority - I Cor. 11:2-16.
Inconsiderate brethren - I Cor. 11:17-34.
Division over spiritual gifts - I Cor. 12-14.
Denial of the resurrection - I Cor. 15.
The sin of unforgivness - II Cor. 2.
Doubting Paul's apostleship - II Cor. 5-11.
Galatia - Jewish legalism - Gal. 1-5.
Ephesus - The sin of not being a united church.
Jewish legalism - Col. 2:11-23.
Gnosticism - Col. 2:1-10.
Inconsistent Christian living - Col. 3-4.
Thessalonica - Jewish legalism.
The general epistles of I, II Timothy, Titus as well as Hebrews - Jewish legalism.
I, II, III John - Gnosticism.
Our divisions are nothing compared to these.
PROBLEMS IN THE CHURCH TODAY. (MOSTLY OPINION AREAS)
Order of the assembly.
The Bible does not speak of such.
To build or not to build.
To remodel on not to remodel.
The type of building to have.
Who will do the work.
Colors, carpets, parking lots, etc.
The kind of preacher.
Hell fire and brimstone.
Who the preacher is.
Sin in the preacher's life - repented or not repented.
Legalism - (other than our traditional legalism).
Define legalism: The dependency on works of merit for salvation.
Other church's personalities.
Doctrinal issues (????)
Marriage, divorce and remarriage.
The list is almost endless.
THE ANATOMY OF A CHURCH CONFLICT.
98% are over opinions.
Things that make little to no difference.
Small details that take on new meaning when stimulated by personality conflicts.
Usually begins with a personality conflict.
Most involve preachers, sometimes elders. (not always)
At first he is "Mr. Wonderful" and then becomes "Mr. Doomed."
Little things turn into full grown character flaws.
The "offended" talks it up.
Solicits some "power" members to his cause.
Someone with some control.
More often in churches with no elders with a "business meeting" arrangement.
Satan is the chairman.
In home fellowships escalate.
Two opposing armies are formed - Division grows.
The group that started the fight usually leaves, regroups, forms another congregation.
It is destined to split again.
The problem is still not dealt with.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO PREVENT CHURCH CONFLICT?
Develop "Godly" leaders.
Elders is God's way - I Timothy 3; Titus 1.
Constantly develop new elders.
Elders must take a stand on what they will do.
Teach the church to love each other.
I Corinthians 13:1-13.
I John 3:11-24.
In the process, not after the fact.
I Corinthians 5:1-13 - (Note v. 11).
II Timothy 2:14 - warn them.
II Thessalonians 3:6-15.
Church conflicts can be prevented.
It takes a strong constitution and a strong determination.
If we can understand why and how church conflicts happen and their consequences, we can head them off before they happen.
We will not stand for such. There is no place in the kingdom for such childishness.
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