Wherever Two or Three Are Gathered…
Wherever there are two or three gathered, there is Christ…and there is conflict!
Prior to the 5th and 6th chapters of Acts, the opposition against the Christian movement was largely from the outside. It’s easy for us to idealize the early church, thinking that it was free of significant internal disagreement and conflict. But people are people in the first and the 21st century and not only is Christ present when two or three of us get together, but there’s also disagreement! That’s what happened when the church began to grow and included a diversity of people. People gathered in Christian community from different ethnic-racial groups, languages and from a lower socio-economic condition and conflict erupted!
While we are aware of the role of decline in a local church that causes conflict, having significantly grown church in my ministry, I’m aware that conflict results when a church grows, too!
“Who are these people and why are they here?”
“I don’t know everyone anymore!”
“Things just aren’t the same here anymore!”
As a church that was growing, we had problems; we called them “good problems,” like not enough parking, seating, coat space, Sunday School rooms, etc. As the church grew, it also attracted a diversity of people with different theological perspectives, racial-ethnic backgrounds, religious traditions, socio-economic conditions. These differences created challenges for the church to include all who needed community and their spiritual needs met. A clear focus on the purpose of the Christian movement as well as the distinct leadership gifts was essential in order to deal with their good problems.
One way or the other, differences and conflict occur when two or three of us get together, even in Christ’s name. We need to stop beating each other up for that reality. Keeping our focus, recognizing each other’s gifts, and including all into our midst of Christian community transcend time, people and context.
Please don’t give us the gory details about the conflict, but what do you see has important in moving a community of faith through the inevitable differences and disagreements that occur when two or three of us get together?