6 Biblical Ways to Handle Disunity


There’s an unseen factor in Saddleback Church’s growth that most people overlook – church unity. God blesses a unified church. Many churches have tremendous potential, but they never achieve what God desires because the members spend all their time fighting with one another. All of the energy is focused inward.

DivisionThe Bible talks more about unity of the church than it does about either heaven or hell. It’s that important. Churches are made up of people, and there are no perfect people. So people get into conflict with each other. As pastors, we need to learn how to deal with those situations. Specifically, we’re called to do these six things when disunity threatens our church.

1. Avoid situations that cause arguments. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:23-24 (NIV): “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” Pastors should avoid causing arguments. As a leader you need to set the example for your whole church on this issue. When a minor argument comes along, refuse to get in the middle of it. You don’t need to have an opinion on everything. Some discussions don’t deserve your participation. Focus your conversation on topics that matter.

2. Teach troublemakers to repent. 2 Timothy 2:25-26 (NIV) says, “Those who oppose him [the pastor] he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” Most pastors don’t like confrontations. But we can’t run from them. As the pastor, you must gently instruct those creating dissention and opposing the teaching in the church.

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Rick Warren About Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

  • Standing Alone

    I left the church my husband joined 3 yrs ago. I was a new Christian and very excited to do the Lord’s will. Unfortunately, the pastor’s wife really didn’t jump head over heals when I joined. I was left on my own…she didn’t try to build a relationship with me at all..mind you it was only two other women in the church. I left the church and sat under a wonderful husband and wife pastoral team and even started a women’s group..but left due to lack of transportation. I was out of church for about a year…but, still stayed in the word. I was so hurt by my husband’s church and felt that he did not support me as he is still there to this day. He is now a minister with the church. I went back to the church I loved and again started to grow, but the Lord called me back to my husband’s church. I was fine and I decided to get into their deaconess program and that is when it went downhill. Anything I suggested was ignored. I had a concern that another new female member brought to my attention and as a leader wanted to bring the situation to the table and address it. Well….the pastor’s wife concluded that I was the one with the problem and just down right ignored me..never asked what the issue was. I discerned the spirit of jealousy on the head deaconess and talked to her about saying you love someone is Christ, but your actions says otherwise. I got absolutely no where. I tried to have a discussion with the pastor’s wife,but she just avoided me…but you could tell she felt ackward around me…to the point she would look straight at me as I enter the church and then would later say. “Oh, I didn’t see you!” I told my husband how I felt…I was in tears…he is still there and I am not. I don’t even know what to do anymore!!!

  • Becca

    God has ministered to my heart w/your words. We are new Pastors [1 year] I feel we’ve got “direction” now. Thank you for posting this!.

  • http://pastors.com elizabeth

    we have had this one person in our church for the last 2 years. she says she doesn’t like gossip thats the reason for not joining the womens group (but she gossips ‘very ugly). she sez in her previous church she worked closely with the pastors wife(so why did she leave)??? she caused a ruckus with one of our wayword women (she could have tried to help). she accused one of the women of not liking her and ignoring her. she also fussed at the same lady right after church in front of visitors (she also did this same thing to another women in the church and the other women just left. she has the pastor and her husband thinking all the women are against her. thats not true. she said she didn’t want to be with the women because all they do is gossip. she was a loose women before this man married her now no one is righteous but her. it hurts my heart and oh yes, she told the pastors wife she would teach her the bible (the gal) and told the pastors wife not to be intimidated by her… does she sound crazy (the devil is loose in her?)

    • tag116

      Same thing just happened to me in my women’s group. A women who is assisting the teacher went to her and told her I didn’t like her. I have spoken to her maybe a total of five times. Me and the teacher saw the spirit of dissension and jealously with her. To make a long story short. She manipulated the teacher. I chose to step aside and not entertain her actions. She is still assisting the teacher. Pastors and leaders are not holding these people accountable. They continue to cause problems and stir up strife.

  • Eric

    Wow and wow.  We currently have a huge group of people in prayer and fasting for God to stop the very beginnings of dissension in our church right now.  Someone is causing trouble, and right when our church is trying to move towards unity for the first time!  This article is so timely and encouraging for me.  Thank you. 

  • Steve Scott

    hey Brandon,
    I have always appreciated the Print View option, did I miss it?

    • http://brandonacox.com Brandon A. Cox

      Steve, you asked, we answered. Notice the “Printer Friendly” label below every post, leading to an editable and printable page. Thanks for keeping us sharp!

  • Anonymous

    Good article.  But was very surprised to see a picture of my home town of Salford in the UK and it’s most famous band – 80′s punk band “Joy Division” – accompanying it!  A picture search for “Division” I presume!!

    A very good band by the way!

    • http://brandonacox.com Brandon A. Cox

      That’s neat to know. Yes, it was a search for “division.” The image of the two guys kind of “facing off” captured the feeling of the article. Thanks for pointing out the connection!

  • deposed lead worshiper

    After seven years as a worship leader, and as one who was unfairly accused of being divisive and asked to leave the church, I can attest that this is not always done for encouragement, but can be used as a crutch for pastors who don’t want anyone around who simply disagrees with his dogma.  Still praying for healing and restoration, but will admit I am hesitant to become part of a traditional church again out of fear…

    • http://brandonacox.com Brandon A. Cox

      Man I’m sorry that happened. One thing we realize is that while many Pastors suffer from churches that have unfairly treated them, there are also churches that have suffered from Pastors who have not dealt with their own inner issues surrounding the need for control, unforgiveness, and secret sin.

      I do pray you’ll find your way into ministry in a situation that allows for healing. That’s what happened to me. After two extremely difficult situations in the earliest part of my ministry that resulted in short-term pastorates, I finally landed at a church for almost eight years of wonderful, healing ministry. I pray you’ll find the same!

    • Shanna Everson

      Us too. 17 years of ministry and have never seen such a severe case of aJezebel pastors wife who has run everyone off practicaly and then blames the people of being led away by the devil.

  • Brian Fitch

    Pastor Rick,

    Those points on disunity are excellent. We as pastors have to set the example. I’ve found not too many people open to being rebuked even though it’s Biblical.

    • Jeric85

      How pastors such as Rick Warren part of the Tony Blair Interfaith Movement… Which is bringing the coming, One World Religion….And speaking Muslim Conferences and refusing to talk about Jesus Christ to them.. What do we do with Pastors who compromise all the time and reject biblical correction from Godly Men.

  • http://www.CrazyAboutChurch.com Charles Specht

    A very good article!

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