Church unity in little choices

Methodist churches get their ministers by appointment from a bishop. After every annual conference, lots of congregations get a new minister. For all you Methodist readers who still have the same staff you had before, if your senior pastor has been appointed to his or her seventh year, chances are better than even that you will have a new one this time next year. Not everyone will be happy with the new minister. Some folks will wind up leaving that congregation.

Many other Protestant denominations call their own pastors. Changes of pastorates  occur at less predictable intervals. They can be very messy if a bare majority of the church wants to dismiss a pastor.… Read the rest

Strength in teamwork

“Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him, and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” — Ecclesiastes 4:12

As John Wesley frequently said, “The New Testament knows nothing of solitary Christianity. The Scriptures refuse to believe that there could be such a thing as un-churched Christian.” God expects Christians to meet together, but even more than that, he encourages teamwork. That’s one way that they get the strength to carry out work for the kingdom.

Sometimes two seemingly unrelated incidents in Scripture can shed light on the meaning of a third. Paul’s experience in Athens and Jesus’ preparations for  his last visit to Jerusalem may seem unrelated, but they both illustrate the truth of the quotation from Ecclesiastes about strength in teamwork.… Read the rest

Trading division in the church for unity, conflict for humility

Jesus made only one petition in the garden for those who would become believers through the disciples’ testimony: for their unity. David wrote Psalm 133 about how beautiful it is to live in unity. Perhaps because God values it so much, it is one of the most fragile things in the church. After all, it requires humility. Conflict and division come more naturally.

A thousand years ago, the church divided into the Eastern and Western church. About five hundred years ago, the Western church divided into Catholic and Protestant. Conflict among Protestants caused division into a number of denominations, and then the denominations fragmented into smaller groups.… Read the rest