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.
In struggling with my own denominational issues I have wrestled with the choice of “leave or stay”…I choose to stay, in the midst of social and theology issues….I choose to be part of the conversation while in brotherly and sisterly love having differences and disagreements. Why should I think any “church” is perfect…when I am not…Great comment Mark….
Agree completely! I was just writing a short message titled “We shouldn’t date God”. In my notes I touch a lot of the same basis. Society’s mind set has infiltrated the churches standard, where ther is no differance between dating or marriage. We know this not to be true. But some find it easier to cut and run, when things don’t go their way. I have a lot of respect for anyone who is willing, despite their differences to try make it work. We are all the body of Christ and not one part is greater, but all are needed (1Corinthians 12). I don’t know about you but a church where everyone is exactly the same sounds boring.
Mark, actually, I was thinking from reading around a bit these days that I’m hearing often of people just plain leaving churches or being hurt by a split in a church (rather than starting a NEW one.) When there is division or leaving there is always a choice of starting anew; perhaps the thought of staying put (when and if it’s possible) to ‘reform the one you have’ is a great, godly suggestion. Being the light and the change right where you are is certainly a prayerful option. Good post.
Mature thoughts and responses by all. “Starting a new church” or “cutting and running” when things don’t go exactly “your” way can be an exercise of self. Galatians, 1 Corinthians and Ephesians all have admonitions for loving-thru the interpersonal “storms” and/or politics of our places of worship…and growing in acceptance and understanding (and love) of one another.
Merry Christmas to BibleDube and all the contributors…
Andy shared this with me. I thought that these were well made points and very relevant. I really enjoyed reading it as it has been a frustration with me for a long time. People do so much damage to the work of Christ by pursuing their own agenda. What good could Christ do with ministers with a servants heart, to come along side of a pastor who is not perfect and support him in his work?
We are to go and preach the gospel. If you are called to reach a area and the Lord has led you and with the church backing that decision, it’s the Lord’s will. Many churches should be more kingdom minded by starting daughter works. Expanding to other areas. By doing so you can reach more people.