How many churches are in Greenville? One.
As I read about the church in the New Testament I see that one of its primary features is that it’s a completely unified organization. It’s divided but only based on geography (The church at Colossae, the church at Ephesus, etc). It’s not divided based on anything else – preference, secondary issues, structure, or style.
Back then there were probably less benefits to dividing like we do today. There were definitely false teachers as there always will be, and they were clearly dividing in order to control a group of people.
Today, however, even believers divide, particularly in a society with religious freedom. There’s no real threat in leading a church, actually there can be some benefits. And those benefits can become amplified by dividing.
Dividing can make you distinct, and distinction can put you in higher demand (of course it can backfire too and make you irrelevant, but that’s a different post for a different time). Claiming to be in some way more right or more real than other Christians can increase church attendance, book sales, worship album downloads, conference ticket reservations, Christian college enrollment and consulting fees.
I’ll admit in the back of my mind as I write this post I’m defining “dividing” pretty generally. I’m talking about everything from downplaying other Christians to rejecting their fellowship to preaching against them as you would preach against sin. And I also admit the “benefits” I mentioned don’t cover the full range of reasons Christians choose to divide. In fact the things I mentioned don’t even scratch the surface.
But I’m not going to go further into all that because it’s not my point.
My point today is that, whatever we think we gain by dividing, it's NOTHING compared to the benefits of uniting.
This morning I was reflecting on the power of the united church. It’s something I saw again this weekend.
- This weekend we had 20 guys, some from our church, some from other churches, come and help us with our floors in the sanctuary.
- A guy from another church finished a video for us that we're going to use for some online fundraising.
- We had a pastor from yet another church come and share some thoughts on what the Bible says about tragedy and how to respond to it as a church.
- Using a woodburner, a friend from another church made some great signs for our Children's Ministry rooms.
- A pastor from a church down the street got ahold of me this morning offering to meet up and chat about ministry on our side of town.
And that’s just from the last three days.
What other organizations are able to freely partner like this? We're separate entities in one sense, yet it becomes more clear to me after weekends like this that it's truly one body. In unity we truly see the power of Jesus - the power to reach our city and the world. Unity keeps the book of Acts going.
When we let Jesus be the senior pastor of the church there's no fear, there's no competition, there’s no division and there is only partnership. The benefits of partnership – churches being started, churches being revitalized, lives being changed - far outweighs the benefits of dividing.
I’m thankful for the church at Greenville, SC. And I know the wonderful, hardworking Christians of Griggs are excited for opportunities to do for other churches what some have done for us.
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/upnorthmemories/