What causes church splits? How can healing occur after a church split?
Church splits, or the division of a church into two or more churches, can have many causes. Much hurt often occurs during a church split, leading to the need for healing among those involved.
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First, some church splits occur due to negative reasons. These can include a scandal by a church leader or prominent member, a conflict regarding a building project or other church activity, or a split due to major changes such as the format of the Sunday service, music, or style of preaching. In these cases, there is usually some type of sin or problem involved that needs to be addressed to help the church return to reconciliation and pursue church health among its members.
Second, some church splits occur over doctrinal issues. For example, if a church denomination no longer holds to the Bible as God's inerrant Word, then there is often a split between those who agree with the denomination's decision and those who do not. Because this is a central belief, those who hold to the inerrancy of Scripture rightly seek to separate from the church denomination and will result in either the church separating from the denomination or a split into a different church.
A church split due to a negative reason will be handled much differently than a church split due to a doctrinal issue. When a church encounters a split due to a negative reason, those involved are often hurt and require a time of healing. Wrongs must be admitted or confessed, and a time of forgiveness needs to take place.
Those involved can help people come together to unite in prayer and to humbly move forward in unity. Together, problems can be addressed, reconciled when possible, and the process of healing can be addressed. A church is ultimately only as healthy as its members. When members have been hurt, individual attention is often needed to help each person grow, forgive, and move forward.
Sometimes, outside consultation can be used to help with a church split. Whether a denominational leader or outside consultant, a fresh voice with experience in dealing with church problems can provide assistance and a plan to heal from past hurts and begin again.
In cases in which a pastor has left as the result of a church split, an interim pastor can also serve as a great help. This transitional leader can offer weekly teaching and pastoral care while the church heals and looks for future direction.
First Corinthians 12 discusses the importance of the church as a body. Together, each person has a part to work together toward the unity and growth of the church. When each person chooses to get involved and help, the power of the church increases and healing can occur to help change the church and the lives of its people.
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