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A Good Way to Avoid a Church Split: Decrease the “I’s” and Increase the “We”

July 23, 2009


Ladies and gentlemen, the I’s have it.

I was reading an article on “How to Prevent A Church Split, Part 1” and was brought to specific attention to two of the warning signs of church splits:

  • Low concern for the church qua church. We live in a Christian era that stresses the individual like no era before it. Most people think Christianity is about me and “my personal relationship with Jesus.” That littly phrase, “my personal,” acting as a kind of double possessive, is deadly to the body. And it’s often compounded by the next warning signal.
  • Self-interests dominate group interests. If life is all about “my personal relationship” then I’m likely to be quite self-seeking. I want to be stimulated. I want to be served. I want my preferences met. I… I… I… till there is no “we” left. And where that exists, there will be little concern–certainly not ultimate concern–for the needs and mission of the larger group, the church.

I couldn’t agree more. I have noticed this trend more in the last 2 years of my life than ever before. Even in pockets where revival has broken out and a spirit of self-denial and fervent love for the saints has broken in, a subtle cloud of selfishness and indepence still looms like a poisonous mushroom cloud.

So I would ride on the back of the above author’s points and simply say this: to kill the chance of a church flee,

kill the I’s and resurrect the We!

In order to do this, your theological foundation, especially your view of the church, needs to be set right. In sum, your view of salvation can’t be primarily one of individualistic and personal, but rather that of corporate and shared.

Jesus Christ died for “sinners”, not a sinner. He layed down His life for “the sheep”, not a sheep. He was a “a friend of sinners” not just one. Christ gave His life for the church, not one man. He was willing to suffer and die so that out of every tribe, tongue and nation peoples would come to know Him and He could have a people to call His own; not a person.

Yes He saves us individually, but also to place us in a larger body of people. We are saved into the church. We are rescued into a body of people. We are brought from the dead with other dead into life with other alive people.

Our theology of salvation must be primarily viewed as a part of the body of Christ, Christ being the head. It’s not about one member, but about the body representing the head. Christ died to purchase for Himself a body, not one arm or a leg. A head couldn’t make it with just a foot or an ear. It needs the whole body.

So the sooner a local church murders the “I” terminology and the “my personal Savior” and “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” and instead adopts the “We, Us, Our, Let’s” terminology and the “church, body”, the sooner it can begin to head towards lasting unity.

Believing Jesus is your personal Savior is not wrong; only when viewed as primary and forget that He has saved you as part of a bigger body of people. Also personal revival is key too. I am not suggesting that any sense of individualism in our relationship to Jesus Christ is unbiblical or ungodly even. Rather, we must find our personal relationship to Christ primarily as viewed through our position in the local body and the universal body of Jesus Christ, the church!

John the Baptist and Jesus both sought out seclusion on many occasions to seek the Lord in prayer, fasting, and the Word. Seeking out the wilderness is often key in being sanctified. But if the wilderness is left at the expense of the town, something is seriously awry.

The greatest display on earth of an individual’s redemption must be shown in the context of a local body of believers. No such thing as hermit-Christianity. The church is a community of believers. No cavern dwelling, bottom dwellers. Only for a season. But the year must be lived in and around others.

This means confessing sins, worship, fellowship, care, evangelism, prayer, bible study, fasting, and more are to be done together, as a body. The body can’t repent for the individual, but I would go so far as to argue that without a primary focus on the body as our role in Christ, the individual can’t repent successfully.

Our sanctification comes individually only as much as we live and breathe corporately in the church.

Your Savior died for sinners. Don’t be selfish with your redemption.

Visit the wilderness often, but make your home the church. Dwell there. For in the church is where you will truly find your head, Jesus Christ!

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