A second issue is the infighting which defines so much of the SBC—its meetings, its churches, and its blogs. It is public knowledge that we do not always settle our differences amicably. The national caricature once again colors many local scenes where First, Second, and even Third Baptist Churches exist in one town because of past infighting. Satan has used our incessant bickering over non-essentials to promote his last great mission on earth—to keep lost people lost.
The communities in which we live simply do not want to hear what we have to say when we can[‘t] speak kindly to one another. If the focus of every SBC meeting is a new controversy to be debated, new parameters to be narrowed, and new issues to be fought, the trend toward decline will only accelerate.
Oh, wow. Now, be very careful here. If the SBC has this problem, we have this problem times 100. What’s the solution? Well, we need to stop fighting. And how does that happen?
* Fighting in the Churches of Christ is largely driven by minute doctrinal differences that we perceiving as damning. Until we learn grace, we’ll keep fighting.
* As long as the schools of preaching and some of our more legalistic colleges turn out preachers trained in legalism rather than the Bible, well, it’s not going to get much better — until that element of the Churches dies out as it fails to keep its children in Jesus.
You see, Flavil Yeakley reports that the children of our more conservative congregations are leaving not only the Churches of Christ, they are leaving Christianity. Some among the progressives figure the conservative element will die out on its own, and so they should spend their efforts in other places — but the price of ignoring other conservative brothers is the salvation of their children.
In other words, one of the richest mission fields within our reach is the children of the conservative churches. Therefore, campus ministries are desperately needed, as are efforts to show the theological bankruptcy of the conservative position.
* The second source of fighting is competition. We get upset when a church in town becomes too successful. It’s all too common to hear, “They are growing too fast; they must be doing something wrong.” Jealousy and resentment when a local church gets more than its fair share of members moving into town is pretty typical. You see, we are often far more concerned about ourselves than the gospel.
Mergers and cooperation should be second nature to people formed in the image of Christ. It’s not, and so we’re not.
If we don’t have enough members to be effective for Jesus, we should merge. Of course, we can’t merge because that other Church of Christ down the road has the wrong position on some issue no one has cared about for 50 years.
It’s long past time to put our fights behind us so we can get busy doing the work we were called to do.