Be a Game Changer

Be a Game Changer!
From the February 8th reading
Acts chapter 15 is the first time we see factions in the young church. This week we will take a look at church unity, and how to make it happen!
Acts 15:39-40
They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. (NIV)
  • Paul and Barnabas disagreed over bringing John Mark with them
    • They split ways over it
    • Paul was later proven wrong (Col. 4:10; 2 Tim. 4:11)
  • Barnabas took John Mark (his cousin) and went to Cyprus (West)
  • Paul took Silas and went through Syria and Cilicia (North)
  • We don’t hear much about Barnabas after this
  • Paul later spoke of Barnabas in positive terms (1 Cor. 9:6; Col. 4:10)


  • Don’t allow Satan to divide and conquer
  • We need to guard against division and strife
  • We need to keep pride at bay


While preparing for this week’s blog I came across this story:

There were two churches with the same name about one mile from one another. They split back about 40 years ago over Fried Chicken! They were having a picnic at the church and two ladies who didn’t care for each other both brought fried chicken. The preacher, not knowing about this, stopped at one end of the table, grabbed a piece of chicken and commented “it was the best he’d ever eaten”. Well, group number two packed up their things and within a few weeks, the church split!

Church splits are a common thing here in America, and we have all heard the stories. One of the common threads in all of them is the breakdown of church unity. In an article written by Thom Rainer he suggests fourteen key reasons for this phenomenon:

  1. Gossip – Church members talk about one another instead of talking to one another.
  2. Actions cloaked in darkness – Secret committees meeting at restaurants having “roast pastor”.
  3. Failure to confront church bullies – Some church members seek power in a church they can’t get elsewhere.
  4. Self-serving church members – Some insist on getting their way for everything from worship style to the order of the worship service.
  5. Lack of prayer – A church that does not pray together is likely to fragment into special interest groups.
  6. Fear of confrontation – Too many would rather sweep the problems under the rug than deal with them.
  7. Adopting the hypercritical spirit of culture – This reality is especially true in blogs and social media.
  8. Low expectations – There are no clear guidelines on what it means to be a part of the body of Christ. Some use their idle time to gossip, criticize and tear down.
  9. No church discipline – Because of the fear of lawsuits or things getting ugly, church leaders avoid church discipline.
  10. Churches known more for what they are against rather than what they are for – This negativity becomes pervasive in the congregation and destroys church unity.
  11. Fear of losing members – Many times the most out spoken are your biggest givers, and leadership is afraid to lose them.
  12. Failure to be evangelistic – When people are reaching their neighbors for Christ they are less concerned about the color of the carpet.
  13. Power groups – Sometimes the bullies coerce others to form power groups.
  14. The silent and fearful majority – Many just want to go to church in peace. They enjoy what the church has to offer, but are afraid to speak out against the bullies.
Unfortunately, I have witnessed all of these, and chances are so have you. One of the biggest culprits to the destruction of church unity is found in number 11: The “failure to be evangelistic.” When a church turns its eyes away from the community and begins to only look to their own needs or wants it starts to die. And when that happens, people start the blame game. In one of Thom Rainer’s books called I Will he shares a story about a church business meeting. “A pastor walked into the room where he knew a tense business meeting was waiting. He spoke right before the meeting was called to order. It is my understanding that he said something like this: ‘Welcome to our business meeting, folks! Before we get started, let’s have a time of sharing. Someone share with the group how you have shared the gospel of Christ this past month’. Silence. Not a person responded. The pastor did not have to say another word.” Maybe more churches should start their business meetings this way!
When it comes to who was right, Paul or Barnabas, it really doesn’t make much difference. Warren Wiersbe goes on to say, “Perhaps both men were right on some things and wrong on other things. We know that John Mark ultimately did succeed in the ministry and that Paul came to love and appreciate him (Col. 4:10; 2 Tim. 4:11; Phil. 23-24).” Good and godly people disagree; this is one of the painful facts of life.
Protecting church unity takes work and effort. It does not happen on its own. It takes people like you who care enough to stop the gossip; to put aside your own selfishness; and to start praying. Because in order to have a healthy church it takes more than just the pastor to make it happen. It takes all of us working together arm in arm, standing against the enemy, and refusing to let him get a foothold in our churches. So will you stand with me? Will you be a game changer? Together we can make our churches healthier and together we can build His kingdom!
Look back over the least of reasons there is not unity in a church. Are there any there that you need to confess? Spend some time reflecting and ask yourself where you can be a part of the solution and not the problem in your church.

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One Response to “Be a Game Changer”

  1. Christine Brann says:

    Great read. Makes a person think. Our God is worthy of Church unity.

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