Starting a new church is popular these days. Some will get started in a person’s home and over the years evolve into a very influential church in the community. Others will get started and permanently close their doors within a year or two.
When a minister or group of people is unhappy with their current church the temptation is there to start a new work. If you start a new one you don’t have to put up with all the stuff you disagree with. You can do things how you think they should be done. You can have the kind of music you want. You can set the liturgy how you like it. You can emphasize certain theological points as you see fit. Oh yeah, the temptation is there – if you can’t find a church that you like then start your own.
If people ever question you, you can easily turn them away by suggesting, “The Spirit is leading us in this direction” or “This is a different kind of ministry/work then the other churches in our community.” Oh, how easy it is.
Now I am not suggesting that there is never a need for a “new” church (see Reformation) or a church wide movement (see Charismatic Movement). Denominational expansion can be good (i.e. leadership oversight and planning). So can church planting in the non-Christianized world (i.e. Asia). But we have too many “new” churches pop up all the time (at least in my part of the world).
I think the “start your own church” movement shows a lack of Christian maturity.
First, there is a lack of the fruit of the Spirit. Does leaving your church to start a new one show longsuffering (or patience), self-control (perhaps a different kind of “self control”), or faithfulness? See Galatians 5 for more on the Spirit’s fruit.
Speaking of fruit… where is the love? For inspiration read 1 Corinthians 13, which is placed right in the thick of Paul’s letter concerning church divisions.
Second, I also think we lack a real sense of the unity of the Church. Read through 1 Corinthians. That one was a mess. But Paul still wrote to them, “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus…” (1 Corinthians 1.2).
Unity should hold firm even through differences, styles, preferences, sin, and the like. If you are unsure what Biblical unity looks like read through Ephesians 4:1-6ff. Unity would suggest reform not rejection. Unity would suggest talking not walking away. How can the Body of Christ be so divided?
Again I will admit that every so often there might be good reasons to plant a new church (as mentioned above). But we too often run from adversity in our local church and we either start a new church or forget “church” and call reading the Bible with a friend at the local coffee shop church.
Is that the new definition of church? I hope not.
Instead of leaving… try reform. Don’t just start a new church… reform the one you have.
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