Some churches hold a great and noble reputation for their love, faithfulness and sacrificing care for those in need. Others churches carry a reputation, but not quite for honor. We might call them Contentious Churches,
“If you bite and devour each other,
watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
— Galatians 5:15
They may assert a better mission statement, but their behavior is all too clear to their community. The reality is too much and people are not just imagining such a place. They really do exist in far greater numbers than anyone wants to admits. In ministry circles these are known as Clergy Killer congregations, to be avoided at all costs. Middle judicatory can fill these posts only with the most naïve or idealistic ministers.
“You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?”
— 1 Corinthians 3:3
“Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
— Galatians 5:26
Contentious churches even have the warning in the resisted mission statement, “Or you will be destroyed by each other.” They reap what they sow, Galatians 6:7. You live by the deeds of malice and so you will by the same repercussions. It’s like a so-called “Mexican Standoff” and too many people are trying to hold each other hostage to their personal power and control games. Perhaps the only hope is they will finally exhaust themselves with such draining behavior. After all, nothing nurturing or life-giving is found in hate and anger.
“In this way, they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.”
— 1 Thessalonians 2:16
The best hope for such hostile environments is intentional ministries and probably a long string of them. Send in pastors trained to break these cycles, but who know they will leave in one or two years without sacrificing their career. Their only hope is to break the paradigm that accepts faulty worldly behavior and set right, biblical examples. As Paul himself counsels these troubled churches, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
12 Sow righteousness for yourselves,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes
and showers his righteousness on you.
13 But you have planted wickedness,
you have reaped evil,
you have eaten the fruit of deception.
Dr. Steve Minor, Administrator