How to Recover from the Heartbreak of a Church Split

Pastors –

Have people left your church to start “their own”?

Have people tried to or accomplished removing you from being the pastor?

Maybe you have experienced people gathering around the opinion that you don’t have “enough” of something – anointing, worship, Holy Spirit, power, or wisdom, and they demonstrate their spirituality by gathering some people and moving on.

Church members –

Have people turned against the pastor or leadership for one reason or another and left the church you attend?

Have you lost friends in a church conflict?

Has your pastor been involved in a personal failure that broke your heart?

It stinks – doesn’t it?          

It’s impossible to address every situation in a blog. There is no ‘one-way’ to handle every situation and no singular way to view every circumstance. But I urge you to be protective of the local church. Protect the unity of the church as a whole. Be mindful of the long-term impact on people.

I want to present some important thoughts to consider. Whether a church split is about vision, leadership, immorality, disagreements, or gossip, here are some important thoughts to consider:

1.  Church splits are painful and leave lifelong wounds.

It is the work of demonic forces that divides, especially when it comes to the local church. Division happens through misunderstanding, gossip, dissatisfaction, dishonor, confusion, and/or pride. It may start in the minds of men and women, but the situation quickly gets energized by our spiritual enemy.

Jesus loves the church. Jesus loves the local church.

The real issue is larger than the perceived disagreement. There are people’s lives at stake. There are relationships that will be broken apart. There are people who will carry this hurtful experience with them for the rest of their lives. There are people who will stop going to church forever. And there are those who will eventually leave their faith.

Do you really want to be a part of that?

Do not deceive yourself. Your actions matter more than you realize.

Collateral damage occurs when “something secondary to the intended issue is damaged during an encounter.”

People are not ‘collateral.’ People are not secondary. People are what church is all about.

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Philip Wagner
Philip Wagner is Lead Pastor of Oasis Church in Los Angeles and founder of Generositywater.org. Oasis is an innovative and racially diverse church, largely comprised of people in their 20’s & 30’s. Oasis is known for its local and global outreach to the impoverished; especially orphans and widows, and funding clean water projects. Philip and his wife, Holly, started Oasis in 1984, in Beverly Hills with10 people. Today they’ve grown to 3000+ members.