Division in the Church

  • Introductions, as usual. Introduce yourself and what you do during the day.
  • Decided on a good way to state our theme & subject
    • Open to refinement and suggestions if you have them
    • The question we are continually answering is: “If this issue was the reason a non-believer gave as their obstacle to Christianity, how would we answer them?”
    • Of course, this isn’t usually really their objection to Christianity. But, it can be a stumbling block and used as an excuse—something that they don’t understand.
    • Theme verse: “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.” (Matthew 13:19) This verse describes precisely what we want to equip you against.
  • Time to brainstorm: Where have there been disagreements between the church and the culture at large or within the church itself? (Specifically talking about ones that people might give as reasons to not accept Christ…)
    • Examples: Jesus & the Pharisees (1), missions to Native Americans (2), denominational split because of worship style (3)
    • Categorize into three categories:
      1. The church handled this situation perfectly.
      2. The church was trying to stand for what is right, but really blew it in their actions/reactions.
      3. What were we smoking?
    • More examples for self:
      • abortion, homosexuality, poor, reformation, arts (music, painting, etc.), spiritual gifts, witch trials, evolution, Crusades, missions to the rest of the world, technology (airplanes in Russia), divisions in denominations
  • (last ten minutes) The rubber hits the road: Pick one of these items, and what if the church’s action in it was the reason someone gave about not considering Christ? How would you answer them?
    • Not talking so much about the church’s position, but their action. For instance, we’re not talking about why we wanted to do missions to Native Americans—we’ll take that as a given. This is more about how would we respond to someone who gave as their reason for not accepting Christ the fact that we did a lot of dumb things in the process. Make sense?
    • Pick one from list: abortion, divisions in denominations
    • There are some “easy” answers—not bad, but need some more clarification (hopefully, group will come up with these):
      • “Those people weren’t really Christians.”
        • Very possibly true, but some of these things were done by people who were about as Christian as any of us. It’s not like any of us can easily tell, always, who is and isn’t a true Christian—true Christians make mistakes, too.
      • “Not all Christians have done something like that—judge Christianity by the ‘good’ Christians.”
        • I’m sure not all the Nazi’s or Communists had some something like Stalin or Hitler—some of them could have been, at least theoretically, very nice people. But we can’t accept either of those beliefs simply because there were some good people somewhere.
      • “You need to look at Christ and follow Him, not just His followers.”
        • Very true—but does that really excuse the church—the body of Christ—from our behavior?
    • It is important that when the church has made a mistake, that we are willing to admit it. At least know I respect people who are willing to confess their mistakes. Besides, repentance is a true part of Christianity—how are people supposed to believe that if Christians aren’t willing to admit the church’s mistakes?
    • One of the foundations of Christianity is the idea of sin—not only is no one perfect, but “none is righteous, no, not one.” That’s the reason we are Christians—we sin and need forgiveness. We aren’t Christians because we think Christians are the best people around—we’re Christians because we realize we are some of the worst.
    • God aches when his people do stupid stuff, too.
    • And, it is incredibly true that we are Christ-followers, not church-followers. It doesn’t excuse the church, but we can’t forget that we are not saved by the church.


© 2005-2007 David and Rita Hjelle