War extracts a heavy toll on a nation and its citizens. Injury, loss of life, and the amount of resources required to sustain the fight is incredible. The ones most directly affected, however, are those who engage in the battles. Those warriors must bear the psychological, emotional, and physical burden of the conflict to a degree most of us will never be able to fully appreciate. Another group of warriors, though, are more common in our culture today. These are the veterans of the Church Wars.
These veterans are found in the subsidiaries of Church, Inc. scattered throughout the nation. They engage in a brutal warfare–not the spiritual warfare necessarily–that encompasses several fronts, and the battlefields are the local churches themselves. Here’s a sampling of those fronts of the Church Wars:
- The Worship Style Front How many have fought and died on this hill! The issue of “contemporary versus traditional” was a major front nationally a few years ago, and remains highly active in some areas still today. The battles on this front come down to preferences in music. If you examine church history, this front has always been a part of the fabric of American church life.
- The Power Struggle The fight for control in a local church can be pretty bloody. The person who gives the most sometimes feels he’s earned the right to call the shots. Sometimes it’s a family who has charter members in their lineage. It might be the pastor versus the deacons. It could even be one generation trying to gain an upper hand over another.
- The Change Resistance Churches have those in their number who see any change as negative. Bringing people to an understanding of the value or the necessity of change can exhaust the most fervent leader, and even then, he may lose the battle.
- The Bible Version Battle Which version of English did Jesus speak, or which version of the Old Testament did Paul preach from? Ridiculous questions, I know. But in my opinion, no more ridiculous than the arguments some give for their preferred English verison of the Bible.
- The Culture Conflict Church, Inc. looks very suspiciously on any attempt to identify with the culture. They brandish the word “compromise” to reel in anyone of their number who may try to reach the unreached by unconventional methodology, such as, I don’t know, hanging out with lost people? They fail to see their own stance as compromising the Great Commission for their Great Comfort.
Church, Inc. subsidiaries bemoan the attack of Satan as the culprit for the damage inflicted on the church’s testimony. Oh, I think we’re doing just fine on our own destroying the church’s impact and influence on society without the devil having to lift a finger! As one of my ministry mentors said, “We have to choose our battles carefully. You have to ask yourself if it’s a hill you’re ready to die on.” Can we find a way to turn the guns on the enemy and not on each other? Only as we move away from “doing business as usual” in church can we engage the real enemy and unite as a true coalition of Kingdom Warriors battling for the souls of people and not for our preferences and petty concerns.