Congregational Harmony

A Manual for Deacons and Church Workers

Introduction

The purpose of this booklet is to focus on ways that Bible-believing congregations can work in harmony and avoid much of the destructive strife that plagues churches.

Knowledge of the strife in churches seems so universal and accepted that it almost would lead us to believe that it is a necessary part of church life, but this is not true. Both the Bible conservatives and the liberals have church problems, but their solutions may be different, depending on the structure of their church government. Many of the Bible conservative congregations are organized into independent churches. They survived the trend toward liberalism in large part by virtue of the fact that they were independent and not subject to outside management. It is very important that locally governed churches make a special effort to avoid needless strife and be prepared to handle it locally when it comes with a minimum of damage. The other churches can frequently handle their problems best bypassing them on to some non-local authority to which they are in submission.

For Christians to live in harmony is very important. The Bible is explicit about the purpose of and the advantages in doing things via the local church. The local Bible church is the channel for our efforts, in order to receive a maximum multiplying effect in the service of our Lord and Savior and Creator, in evangelism, in spiritual maturing of Christians, and in missionary outreach. This rightly receives the attention of much of our Christian literature.

This booklet has been compiled largely from experiences of an independent fundamental Baptist deacon board. Some of the lessons learned were learned the hard way. The purpose of this booklet is to share with others ways to promote harmony and to avoid divisive contentions that can swell up from minor issues and impair the important God-given ministry of the church. There are, of course, many problems that leaders within the church will encounter for which the only guideline is a cautious search of the Scriptures, prayer, and waiting upon wisdom and direction from the Lord. With reference to the subject generally, there seems to be very little reading material for deacons or a similarly designated group of leaders within the church, who are the human keys to a harmonious, spiritually prosperous, and growing church. For this reason the deacon board functions elaborated on in this booklet are directed to a rather narrowness of purpose: promoting harmony in the church.

This manual is addressed mainly to Christians—those who have already acknowledged that they are sinners (Eccls. 7:20; Rom. 3:10, 23), have recognized that they cannot save themselves (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8,9) and, in true repentance, have asked Christ to be their Savior from sin (John1:12; 3:16; 5:24).

If you have not received Christ as your Savior, you are not “at peace” with God. You are (Rom. 5:6,10) in need of being reconciled to Him (II Cor. 5:20b). You need to acknowledge your sin and trust Christ as your Savior. You need to come to Jesus Christ, the only true Source of lasting peace (Eph. 2:14).

But the Bible indicates that Christians, even though they have believed in and received Christ for salvation, still sin (I John: 8-10). Many Christians hold hatred, fear, resentment, jealousy, and malice toward others. As a result, fellowship with these persons and the Lord is broken, joy is lost, and God’s peace is not enjoyed. Confession of sin (I John 1:9) and forsaking of one’s sinful ways in obedience to the Lord and His Word (Prov. 28:13) are necessary if the Christian is to enjoy God’s peace (Gal.5:22, Rom. 15:33).