Last week I participated in a peer learning community that discussed an ARTICLE written by a pastor who had experienced a tragic illness. He was misdiagnosed which led to even further health decline. At his lowest moment, he contemplated how he would spend his remaining days. One of the conclusions he came to was that the local church would no longer be a part of his remaining days. Not as a pastor. Not as a member. Not at all. The reason? He couldn’t tolerate the interpersonal conflict within the church.
The conversation caused me to dig a little deeper on a topic we are all too familiar with. What I learned was amazing. For example, 25% of churches reported some form of serious conflict in the past five years. Another source cited that 19,000 churches every year have some form of internal strife. It probably comes as no surprise that 98% of those conflicts were due to interpersonal divides. Only 2% were attributed to some form of theological disagreement.
Like any war, church conflict leaves collateral damage. 50% of people who enter vocational ministry don’t last in ministry beyond five years. 1,300 pastors are terminated every month in America. And it gets worse. Every day, 3,500 people make the conscious decision to leave the local church, never to return.
So what’s the answer? John appeals to his readership to recall Jesus’ command to love one another. That’s the hardest part of Christianity. This week I’m posting from John’s words about what that love looks like and why its important.