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How do you heal a split church?

Sometimes issues that divide must be addressed as a group and resolved before any healing can take place. A meeting with all sides present may be helpful. The focus should be to discuss and understand why the split has occurred. It should be made clear that everyone should speak respectfully and honestly evaluate the other sides views. Asking the Lord for guidance on how to move forward is important, knowing that His will should be followed with the Scriptures providing the guiding principles.

Dr. Gary Chapman was once discussing how to heal a friendship. He said that when people disagree, they tend to build walls that keep them apart. As long as the walls exist, the friendship will never be restored. Each side will usually build a wall. They build it believing they are right and the other side is wrong. The wall is made more impenetrable by feelings of resentment, anger and hurt feelings.

Before there can be any healing, the wall that each person put up must be taken down. If you have built a wall on your side, then you can only remove the wall you built. That means that the initial feelings that put up the wall must be overcome. One scripture that has helped me when I feel angry or bitter is Hebrews 12:15 from the Phillips Modern English translation:

“Be careful that none of you fails to respond to the grace which God gives, for if he does there can very easily spring up in him a bitter spirit which is not only bad in itself but can also poison the lives of many others.”

Hebrews 12:15

What this says is that if I fail to appreciate the forgiveness I have received from God, then a root of bitterness can lodge in my heart and poison those around me.  To get rid of the anger then means to focus on my own forgiveness. This will make me more forgiving of the shortcoming of others.  That is one tool to “take down my wall.”

You cannot take down the other side’s wall. But you can do and say things that may help them. Acts of kindness and expressions of love can help the other side want to remove their wall. Proverbs 15:1 is good advice. If we control our words, it may be like applying a healing ointment. It says, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”

Ephesians 4:31, 32 is also great advice:  “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

For more on forgiveness listen to, “Did I Really Forgive Them?”

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