Have you ever wondered why there are so many different denominations and types of churches? There is every flavor of baptist, Pentecostal, episcopal and so on.
When we planted a church in Sisters, Oregon over a decade ago, one of the first questions we were asked by a Christian was, “Why are you starting another church? Why don’t you try and get all the churches together instead?” It was an interesting observation. In a town of less than 5,000 people we were the 11th church. But there were still at least 4,000 people who needed Jesus.
But what’s with all the different churches?
1 Corinthians 1:13 says, “Has Christ been divided into factions?” When you look at all the different segments of Christianity and how little we actually do together, you can start to wonder if we have fractured Christ into our own little pieces.
When we started the church in Sisters, it was popular to use a slogan something like, “we are not like other churches.” We chose not to define ourselves by what we were not, but by what we were. Still, the temptation was present to divide even more.
I’m not a proponent of getting rid of denominations. With so much diversity in our culture we need “different strokes for different folks”, but when churches and Christians intentionally set themselves apart or above other Christians, it’s wrong.
We set ourselves apart by our theology and consider people ‘less than’ if they don’t believe everything exactly as we do. We set ourselves apart by highlighting the weaknesses that exist in other churches, as if the church we are a part of is somehow perfect.
Can we stop? Can we begin to build each other up rather than tear each down? Can we root for other churches and believers and pray that God will continue blessing them? Can we occasionally put our wallet where our mouth is and give to other churches that are hurting financially (and I’m not talking about in another city).
My prayer is that we would stop increasing the fracture and start building unity, by what we think, say and how we live.