March 5
Helping a church confront crisis
1 Corinthians 1:2-17

KEY VERSE: I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 1 Corinthians 1:10

Somewhere I read that in a backwoods community in Tennessee there is small church named "The Left Foot Holiness Church." It seems that this church resulted from a split in the "Holiness Church" over an argument as to which foot should be washed first in the foot-washing ceremony. Those who insisted that the left foot be washed first lost the argument so they formed their own church.

Whether that story is true or not, it is surely true that many Christians enjoy a good church fight. Strife and discord have often divided churches to the degree that outsiders have said with disgust, "If that is Christianity, then I want no part in it." For nearly 11 years, I have served as pastor of a wonderful congregation in Opelika known as Trinity. During this time the church has enjoyed a remarkable unity with very little divisiveness. Strife is a dish we seldom have for dinner.

This unity has strongly affected the group of the church. During the nineties, Trinity has experienced more than 50 percent net growth, increasing from 800 members to more than 1,200.

Why the increase? Our staff has little doubt about the main reason. It is not the preaching, music, location, facilities, the Sunday School, or the programs. All of these factors play a small part, but the primary attraction of our church is its loving fellowship.

The most common remark made by one of our new members is something like this: "Trinity is such a loving church that it felt like home the first Sunday we came." People from all walks of life are finding loving acceptance at Trinity, and it makes them want to come back because that is what we are all looking for. We want to be loved, known, accepted, and encouraged.

Some people delight in a heated debate. They enjoy getting steamed up and letting other people know where they stand. But such an atmosphere does not attract lost people to Jesus Christ and cause them to want to identify with His followers.

Disunity is the work of the devil. He delights in it. Loving unity is a gift of God which Christians can accept if they are willing to stop fighting among themselves and allow the Prince of Peace to rule in their hearts. And pagans are looking for a loving fellowship where Jesus is Lord.