COLEMAN: Destroying unity

By Landon Coleman

Pastor, Immanuel

As a pastor, I regularly find myself talking to other pastors about the struggles they face in their churches. Some pastors face the struggle of finances when tithes and offerings just don’t cover the expenses. Other pastors face the struggle of an aging congregation that has failed to connect with younger generations. Still other pastors face the struggle of facilities that are in need of repair or relocation.

Each of these scenarios are legitimate challenges for pastors and churches, but none of these scenarios compares to the challenge of division in the church. Quite frankly, when I talk to other pastors, I’m often shocked by the stories I hear – stories about division, factions, fighting, and dissension within the church. Rest assured, nothing will destroy the gospel work of a church faster than division, factions, fighting, and dissension.

In this article, I’m writing as a pastor, and I’m writing to you church members. If you want to destroy the gospel work of your church, aim for the unity of your church. If you want to destroy the unity of your church, consider these tactics:

One, talk negatively about other people in your church. You can talk about people’s past mistakes. You can talk about how people are ill-equipped to serve. You can talk about how certain people just rub you the wrong way. It really doesn’t matter how you do it, just talk negatively about other people, and if at all possible do it behind their backs.

Two, always assume the worst in people. I know 1 Corinthians 13 says, love believes all things … But if you want to destroy unity you’re going to have to assume the worst in people. Don’t consider their difficult circumstances or their unfortunate situations, and whatever you do don’t give anyone the benefit of the doubt. Instead, simply assume the worst in people.

Three, judge other people’s motives. I know you don’t know what’s in someone else’s heart, and I know you can’t read minds. But destroying unity requires you to pretend like you can do both of these things. For starters, you should regularly say things like this, “I know why he did that,” or, “I’ll tell you why she said that.” This tactic is powerful when combined with the previous two, talking about others and assuming the worst about others.

Four, keep to yourself and wait for other people to initiate a relationship. This begins with the American notion that life revolves around you. Why should you go out of your way to initiate a relationship with someone else? Just sit back and wait for people to come to you. When they don’t go out of their way and they don’t bend over backward to make you the center of attention, move to implement the previous three tactics.

Fifth, expect other people to serve you. Of course, every church needs people to serve, but why should that be you? If you are asked to serve, try one of these excuses, “I’ll be praying about that opportunity,” “I’m not sure that’s my spiritual gift,” or “I’ve put in my time, now it’s someone else’s turn.”

I guarantee these tactics will destroy the unity of your church, and in doing so, they will destroy the gospel work of your church. If you’re looking for an alternative approach to the tactics I’ve described here, I’ll be back next month to talk about how you can positively contribute to the unity of your church.