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top 3 church-destroyers

January 19, 2010

What do you think are the top 3 things that can destroy a church?

I got coffee with someone this week who asked me a question I’ve thought about all week. “What do you think are the top 3 things that can destroy a church?”  Since I’m studying to preach the “Following Jesus in a Jacked Up Church” series through 1 Corinthians starting next month, this question had me thinking for the next couple of days.  After a while to think about it, here’s my best shot…

#1 – False teaching.  It’s rampant right now, the New Testament warns against it dozens of times, it keeps thousands of people thinking they’re saved who aren’t, and people usually love false teaching because it’s always more culturally acceptable than Truth.  But the real reason that false teaching is my #1 is that false teaching always exults Man and lowers God.  If the purpose of the church is to glorify God – and it is – then false teaching is almost always a subversive, frontal attack on the main goal of the church: God’s glory.

I’m defining false teaching as a perversion of a doctrine that is central to Christianity such as the gospel, justification by faith apart from works, the Trinity, doctrine of Scripture, etc.

#2 – Disunity/gossip.
I lumped these two together because they ALWAYS go hand-in-hand.  “Gossip” is negativity passed laterally (to someone who’s on your level, like another church member) or down (someone who’s under your leadership).  Not only does the New Testament put the sin of gossip in the same list as things like murder, homosexuality, and hating God but in 1 Corinthians Paul devotes no less than FOUR CHAPTERS to the issue of church unity.  The thing that’s so dangerous about gossip is that it feels so right but is so powerfully destructive. People will say things like…

  • “It’s not wrong for me to express my feelings!”
  • “If I don’t talk about it, no one else will and this needs to be talked about!”
  • “I’m just an independent, opinionated person – that’s just who I am!”

Or my personal favorite; the ever humble-sounding…

  • “I’m just talking about this for the good of our church.”

Church members of any church: if The Holy Spirit is convicting you right now that you’re contributing to disunity through gossip or allowing gossip to take place in your presence, worship Jesus by pursuing repentance or gently confronting people who are engaging in gossip. You may literally save a church.

#3 – Moral failures in church leadership. Sadly, it is almost impossible to talk to someone who’s grown up in the church who hasn’t seen a pastor they trusted and respected have an affair or divorce.  This is why The Bridge has taken 8 months to appoint two elders and it’s why Scripture sets such high, clear standards for church leadership.  Bridge family, please always pray for us as leaders.  We’re just as messed up as the next person and need protection against Satan’s attacks.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Brenton Hippler permalink
    January 19, 2010 10:31 pm

    Other gossip traps:

    As long as it’s prefaced with “Bless their heart” or presented as a prayer request, it’s not gossip.

  2. josh permalink
    January 19, 2010 10:34 pm

    lol. I overhead a conversation like that waiting in line literally just this week. So true… and sad.

  3. jeannie yacker permalink
    January 20, 2010 10:27 am

    When one reach’s out to pastor for help needed…always send a reply. Or have someone from the staff do it.
    So that the person reaching out, at least knows someone in the church cares.
    The hand that reaches out, is answered, can bring so many more.Jeannie Yacker

  4. January 20, 2010 3:23 pm

    So glad you put bad teaching/false theology as #1. We can’t relate properly to God or other believers if we don’t know Him through His only channel of revelation – the Bible.

  5. shelley permalink
    January 20, 2010 7:46 pm

    I thoroughly agree with your top 3. Number 4 might be “Busy-ness” — if a church keeps their folks busy enough (both leading & participating) as well as pulling family members apart on Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wed night…. then homes & relationships will start falling apart. And when homes are destroyed, of course churches will be too.

  6. josh permalink
    January 20, 2010 7:50 pm

    Boom! I love you, Stedmans.

  7. Andrea permalink
    January 21, 2010 10:28 am

    Lazy leadership unwilling or afraid to address sin problems within the church. This can lead to each of us growing prideful, having a sense of entitlement, cause dissention and disunity in the church, and can hamper the spread of the gospel in the workplaces and communities of these entitled, distracted members. It is so important that we gracefully love one another and desperately call each other to pursue God above all other gods.

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