Turf Wars

June 13, 2005
by John Stuart

Ephesians 4:3 – Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (NIV)

When I was a seminary student, I was assigned to various churches throughout the year. This was to give me hands-on experience in pastoral ministry, effectiveness, and leadership. I can remember being attached to a highly successful church, whose minister was a great communicator and whose loving ways inspired the congregation.

One winter's evening, we all gathered together for the monthly Session meeting. We were in a round room with a round table, so everyone was treated equally. The organized agenda and the efficiency of the moderator impressed me, but just when things appeared to be going so well, the bottom fell out of the boat.

It all had to do with a cupboard. Someone wanted to remove it to another room, for a different group and a new purpose. The trouble was that the cupboard happened to be a gift given by a distant relative of one of the elders. Before long, a heated discussion arose and, for a full hour, the fate of the cupboard was fiercely debated. It was an eye-opener for me and, towards the end of the fracas, I humbly suggested purchasing a new cupboard. Things quietened down and, within a couple of weeks, a brand new cupboard was placed in the other room.

It's amazing how preoccupied we can become with trivial pursuits in churches and how small matters can escalate into serious conflicts. Perhaps if we made "every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" in our congregations, we might win the entire world within a couple of generations. If only we would stop fretting over the small stuff!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You have placed us in church because there are ministries and missions that require our focus, support, and gifts. You have called us to be disciples so that the world might know of Your kingdom. Enable us to overcome the temporary, unimportant stuff, so that we can get on with serving You in the eternal, meaningful purposes of Your Church. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.

About the author:

John Stuart <traqair@aol.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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