Since the early days of the local church, there have been many instances of contention. For example, in I Corinthians 3, the apostle Paul addressed the strife in the Corinthian church. The cause of the strife was division on who was the right person to follow for spiritual leadership. Some church members considered Paul the right person to follow, while others deferred to Apollos. The record of Paul’s work was reported in Acts 18, and it seems that he was the first apostle who took the gospel there. Later, Apollos found himself in the church and built upon what Paul had done.
Sadly, members of the Corinthian church no longer see christ but the men whom Christ used. This is a sign of immaturity among them. Your local church and mine have many divisions, contentions, squabbles, and fights. Unfortunately, disputes reduce the effectiveness and efficiency of a local church. Physics teaches us that the if there were no friction, machines would have 100% efficiency. Before the machines started working, they used some effort to overcome friction within themselves. A device is considered efficient when it expends lesser effort on friction and more on the load it is meant to carry.
Similarly, church squabbles are like friction that reduces the efficiency of the local churches. The church cannot carry the load it is meant to carry. Suppose a church has the capacity to destroy 5000 worth of the works of the devil in a particular territory. In that case, church squabbles take away 4500, and they will struggle to destroy 500. The awareness of our collective responsibility is critical if we want a squabble-free local church.
And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
When the early church was of one heart and soul, great power followed the apostles as they witnessed. A squabble-free local church is attainable if all members follow God’s word and spirit. The scriptures above provided a picture of such a church. Squabble takes away power from the church.
In reality, the spirit of God connects all believers to one another and Jesus Christ, which is why we have a commonwealth (Ephesians 2:11-13). However, the fact that we have one spirit does not protect us from differences and clashes. Even Siamese twins have differences and flaws that make them clash. Therefore, I will categorize the type of dispute based on what causes it.
Types of Dispute
- Squabbles between two members for issues related to the church. Causes for the brouhaha include business, taking loans and contributions, children of different parents in the same church picking up a fight and parents aligning to fight, members who are neighbors, and issues of neighborhood causing a conflict.
- Squabbles among leadership on issues directly related to the church. For example, if the headquarters wants a pastor transferred and the assembly members think otherwise. In other cases, a pastor already transferred holds on to members’ loyalty, and the new pastor is stranded.
- Squabbles between members of units on the administration of the units. This is very common in service units like choir and ushering. Issues with choice of uniform, choice of song, convenient time of rehearsals, discipline e
- Squabbles related to doctrinal issues like the case of the Corinthian church.
Easy way to end and quench the fire of any struggle
- Pursue spiritual growth more than anything. The matured believer operates in better wisdom and grace.
- Spend quality praying over issues raised, and do not take sides
- Develop the attitude of embracing people irrespective of their flaws
- Remember, your perspective is not the only correct one in the room. I minister and serve the Lord in a Yoruba-speaking church. I was once challenged on why I usually use the pronoun E for God and not O. In Yoruba language, E is used for elders as a sign of honour. In contrast, O is used for your peers and younger ones. Trivial issues like this must not lead to disputes
- God does not want us to be distracted; hence anytime a story is reported to you, make sure you pray. Do not be a talebearer but a man who stands in the gap.