“The Church is so old fashion!”
“The Church needs to add things to make worship more entertaining!”
“The Church needs to change its view on women in worship to connect with this culture!”
“The Church needs to change!”
It is very likely that you have heard some of these statements before. Maybe there was someone in your congregation who was really pushing some of these things. They were dissatisfied with the church of Christ, and now they are pushing for change. When this type of agenda is pushed we begin to see churches spilt. Division tears the Church apart. Does this sound familiar?
If you are someone who wants change in the Church consider this: We are to stand firm and not fall away from the teachings of the Bible (1 Timothy 4:16). While there is something to say about changing the way we present the truth to our culture today, the minute we begin changing God’s plan for the church that Jesus purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28), we have made a terrible mistake.
We should always stand firm and defend God’s plan for the Church. We cannot compromise. However, in view of the church today, I do believe that we need to change. There is story after story of churches dividing and splitting apart. This is not part of God’s plan. The Church does need to change, but God’s plan for it does not. The change needs to happen in the heart of every believer. The only change we need to make is the way that we view God’s plan for the Church.
The Church Needs to Love One Another
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Jesus was very clear. The Church is supposed to be known by the love that we have for one another. Let me say that again. The Church was never meant to be known by how trendy her name is, how entertaining and lively her worship is, how great her websites look or how great her preachers are at speaking. The Church is to be known by the love that Christians have for one another.
Can you truly say that you have this love for the Christians at your congregation? Or do you often find yourself complaining about them behind their backs? You think people like them are holding the congregation back from growing because they are stuck in their ways. While it is nice have updated websites, introduce modern songs to our assemblies and try to reach out to today’s culture—that is not the key to growth. Our culture must see that we love another. That is God’s plan for the Church.
The Church Needs to Serve One Another
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:8-10).
Our love for one another should drive us to desire to serve one another. Here is something to think hard about: next time you have a conflict or disagreement with a brother or sister at your congregation, instead of talking bad about them behind their backs, serve them. Write them a card, compliment them on something they are doing right or offer to help them in some way. Our love for God and His people should instill a desire in us to serve them.
The Church Needs to Be Willing to Die For One Another
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16).
The passage should change everything. Jesus laid down His life for us—the Church. That is how much He loved us. This is used to compare how much we should love one another. We know that we need to lay down our lives to God, but did you know that we are to lay down our lives to our Christian brothers and sisters as well?
God’s plan for the Church is not just for us to love one another or to just serve another—its deeper than that. We must be willing to die for one another. Wow. Yet it seems some churches cannot even make a decision in unity much less lay down their lives for one another.
When conflict arises and opinions are in the center of arguments we need to lay down our lives for another and “in humility count others more significant than yourselves”, because this is the mindset of Jesus. (Philippians 2:3&5). This is especially true when conflict is over generational or cultural differences. We should submit to one other and do whatever it takes to keep unity outside of straying from God’s plan.
Satan wants us to be divided. The temptation to split will be there in the midst of conflict among your congregation. When Jesus was temped in the wilderness, He used scripture to fight temptation (Matt. 4). When congregations are going through times of conflict and the temptation is to split, we need to unite over the word of God. We need to have the humbleness to submit to His word and love one another—this is the only way we will overcome division.
by Noah Icenhour