Caution: Church is Having Potluck
From my earliest memories of any kind, church events were and have always held a primary place in my time and activities. When one grows up in the home of a Baptist preacher, it is “law” that the pastor’s family will be in attendance at all functions. Since it was expected, I guess I really never questioned the fact that 3-4 days a week, I was “in church” for some type of gathering. I was fortunate in that my father stayed at one church from the time I was in second grade until high school graduation.
The First Baptist Church of Humboldt was a great place to be reared. The people loved my family and showed that love in many ways. And, the good thing is that the church was harmonious and never experienced a church split (and I am grateful that I have never endured one as a pastor either). I heard of those churches that did go through an ugly divide as I grew older. Sadly, most of the time, the reasons for the formation of a new congregation were seemingly petty to an outsider. Rarely have I ever heard of a church turning against one another because there were just too many baptisms going on; “or” the giving of the members had become extravagant and just too much money was coming in for ministry; “or” the church’s young people were so busy reaching other students that it was about to cost the church money to provide more space. No, church divisions are most often not over Kingdom issues. Too many times, it starts when one member is upset and that person talks to other persons and soon, the flock has quietly “declared” which side they are “on”. The next weeks and months are a test of the stamina of the members to decide who will get the property and who will have to move out.
In Dwight Pentecost’s commentary on the book of Philippians he refers to an occurrence of a church split in Dallas Texas. The church split was so bad that it involved a legal suit of one side of the church against the other over who had the right of ownership of the church property. The case went all the way to the State Supreme Court. It was dismissed on the grounds that the State Supreme Court was not going to deal with internal church issues, but they would have to be dealt with by the denominational church governing body. The matter was finally settled with one side being given the ownership rights to the property. During this period of time a local newspaper reporter did some investigating on the cause of this church split. He discovered that it all started during a church dinner. Apparently one of the church elders was offended when the portion of food given to him was not as large as the young person next to him. This whole church split started because someone was offended over “portion size” at the potluck! (copied).
Scripture’s standard for a church is much nobler than petty fighting. So often, Paul’s writings were to remind the new Christians how to preserve the unity of the church. Here he writes to the church in Ephesus……20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 3:20-21; 4:1-6).