Praying the Mission (1): Knowing the Father Page 2
Church Power + Church Politics + Church Money = A Nasty Underbelly of Division
The nasty underbelly I’ve come to see more clearly is that so much
of the church today is runlike a business. That means many churches are too often about money, namely making it andspending it. While I agree that certain business principles can be brought into the church tomake things run smoother and more efficiently, essentially helping us work smarter and notharder, I also deeply feel the inward tug of desiring worldly gain like any other American
breathing the air of the “American Dream.” Too many churches, at least in America, have
breathed this air deeply and find themselves drifting into an atmosphere of biblical unreality,
totally blinded to the black and white teachings of Jesus regarding money. So I’ve seen several
churches split in my lifetime over money.And with the urge to make and spend money, to bu
ild a big and “successful” organization, alsocomes politics. Where there’s power to be had and money to give and spend, there are people
wanting a piece of it, many of them vying for the biggest piece so they can have the biggest say.This is another part of the nasty underbelly of church, and Jesus hates it, frankly. Those
churches whom I’ve been a part of who have also had a “healthy” or even enormous amount of
money in the bank have been those where the most politicking has occurred. Decisions arem
ade based on pragmatics and human reasoning all of which are called “wisdom” by manyleaders, but foolishness to God. And so I’ve seen several churches split in my lifetime over
power and control in the local church.
Reading Between the Denominational and Doctrinal Lines That Cause Division
Then we have those who have attempted to draw some pretty bold and dogmatic lines forchurches and denominations in the past. Those lines
things like “inerrancy of Scripture”and “sound doctrine.” But no matte
r how boldly you draw those lines and writes those words,
there’s a very deep chasm of inconsistency between those lines into which many fall into whocannot “tow the line” or are not “on the same page.” So I’ve also seen churches split becauseof “doctrinal disagreements,” which of which, I’m convinced, were not entirely untainted by
struggles over money, control or power.
It’s hard to imagine it, but according to the
World Christian Encylopedia
, “Christianity consists
of 6 major ecclesiastico-cultural blocs, divided into 300 major ecclesiastical traditions,
composed of over 33,000 distinct denominations in 238 countries.”
Within Christianity, theauthor of this article in the
counts 33,820 denominations. And his article waswritten in the 2001 edition, some nine years ago. At the risk of sounding a little juvenile, I just
think that’s the most retarded thing I can possibly imagine. But it’s true.
David B. Barrett, George T. Kurian, and Todd M. Johnson.
The World Christian Encyclopedia: AComparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the Modern World
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2001),1:16, Table 1-5.