A reader wrote to ask this question. I’ve edited it with his permission to make it anonymous —
Some time ago the local Christian church was left without a preacher and only one elder remained. They called our elders — we’re a Church of Christ — wanting to discuss the possibility of merging our congregations. They had just finished an auditorium, but because of the split had not moved into it. We were outgrowing our building so, we without enthusiasm, agreed to meet with their steering committee. Only minutes after the meeting started we truly felt the presence of God. We decided this was not about financial or special needs — merging just seemed the right thing to do.
At one point the pianist stood to say, “I have played for this church and others most of my life, but for the sake of unity I’m willing to sing a cappella in the worship”. The others agreed. Each of our differences was resolved in the same way…for the sake of unity.
Elated we returned to our congregation and reported on the meeting explaining that this must be carefully decided and would require much praying and a lot of patience on both sides. To our surprise the mere suggestion became divisive. Some were unwilling to discuss the matter and visitors took it back to their own congregations and the hateful letters and rumors started. We had to put it on the back burner to keep a oneness desire from further splintering the church.
What is the matter with the spirit of many from our heritage? I thought we had grown beyond this and would have been thrilled and praising God for this opportunity.
I have conservative and progressive readers. Readers, what’s the answer?
And let me ask a related question: How might the leadership of the churches resolve the objections of those who don’t want the churches to unite?