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Monday, 19 June 2017

'I'm a Christian... Get me out of here': Part 4: Shoulder to Shoulder

I've finally gotten around to finishing off this 4 part series 'I'm a Christian...Get me out of here' or 'Surviving the Church'

Here's 'Shoulder to Shoulder'

The previous posts in this series have all focused on our differences; our different backgrounds, opinions etc

Part 1- 'Thrown together':

Part 2- 'Bigger than Jesus':

Part 3- 'The one and only you':

The most important thing about our relationships with each other as Christians, is not what divides us, but the things that bind us together, our mission, purpose & the God that call's and loves us all.

There's nothing new in any of this I suppose...but that begs the question: why do Christians spend so much time and effort fighting and arguing with each other?

The obvious example for me to look at, is the lives and ministry's of the 12 disciples....12 guys, 12 opinions & 12 hard heads.

In  Luke's Gospel there are 2 separate arguments about the same thing...who will be the greatest; (Luke 9:46 & Luke 22:24).
The second argument during the last supper itself... Twice Jesus has to play referee between these guys, arguing about petty stuff.

Well, at least we're in good company when we act petty, if the Church fathers, chosen and called personally by Christ couldn't resist arguing then I suppose we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves.

The challengevi believe, l is to do better, to evolve beyond silly arguments. To be more than we are, to grow and become more Christ-like.

I don't know if anybody has seen this post online about 25 bizarre and supposedly true reasons why people have left the Church/had huge arguments, but I thought it might be worth sharing... Funny, yes but a little sad as well:

1. Argument over the appropriate length of the worship pastor's beard.

2. Fight over whether or not to build a children's playground or to use the land for a cemetery.

3. A deacon accusing another deacon of sending an anonymous letter, and deciding to settle the matter in the parking lot.

4. A church dispute of whether or not to install restroom stall dividers in the women's restroom.

5. A church argument and vote to decide if a clock in the worship center should be removed.

6. A 45-minute heated argument over the type of filing cabinet to purchase: black or brown; 2, 3, or 4 drawers.

7. A fight over which picture of Jesus to put in the foyer.

8. A petition to have all church staff clean shaven.

9. A dispute over whether the worship leader should have his shoes on during the service.

10. A big church argument over the discovery that the church budget was off $0.10. Someone finally gave a dime to settle the issue.

11. A dispute in the church because the Lord's Supper had cran/grape juice instead of grape juice.

12. Business meeting arguments about whether the church should purchase a weed eater or not. It took two business meetings to resolve.

13. Arguments over what type of green beans the church should serve.

14. Two different churches reported fights over the type of coffee. In one of the churches, they moved from Folgers to a stronger Starbucks brand. In the other church, they simply moved to a stronger blend. Members left the church in the latter example.

15. Major conflict when the youth borrowed a crockpot that had not been used for years.

16. An argument on whether the church should allow deviled eggs at the church meal.

17. An argument over who has the authority to buy postage stamps for the church.

18. A disagreement over using the term "potluck" instead of "pot blessing"

19. A church member was chastised because she brought vanilla syrup to the coffee server. It looked too much like liquor.

20. An argument in church over who has access to the copy machine.

21. Some church members left the church because one church member hid the vacuum cleaner from them. It resulted in a major fight and split.

22. An argument over whether to have gluten-free communion bread or not.

23. A dispute over whether the church should allow people to wear black t-shirts, since black is the color of the devil.

24. A fight over whether or not to sing "Happy Birthday" each week.

25. An argument over whether the fake, dusty plants should be removed from the podium.

Here's the link to the original article:

I don't want to be too negative but I think it's important that we are aware of where we fall short so we can learn from our mistakes and move forward.

Sometimes however, we do work together, we do put our differences aside and work together... The result can change lives.

In my hometown of Coventry, I have been involved with a winter night shelter programme. This only works because a group of churches of which mine is one, have got together to host a group of homeless people on one night of the week during the winter months, this means, a bed, a meal a friendly ear etc.
It is not perfect, perhaps it could do more. But it is changing lives and serving the needs of our community in a practical way...there is a mixture of denominations, attitudes, outlooks and ideas but together we have achieved what each individual Church would struggle to accomplish.
Standing Shoulder to Shoulder we are stronger than any of us would be by ourselves.

7 Churches and religious groups, plus extras that provided cover, volunteers, food etc have made a real difference to their local communities.
12 angry, confused, argumentative human and imperfect men built the Church.

Imagine what you, your Church, and the wider, worldwide Church could do if we truly put aside our arguments, weaknesses, backgrounds and pettiness aside and stood 'Shoulder to Shoulder'.

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Disclaimer: the opinions and comments expressed in this blog are personal and do not necessarily represent the views and policies of the Salvation Army

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