The Cracks Begin at the Bottom

Great ruptures in the church often begin with just one member gossiping about another

“Lately I’ve found myself pondering unity in the local church and considering that cracks in the unity of a church often begin at the bottom. They often begin at the foundation and work their way up to the roof. What I mean is that disunity often begins with the membership and spreads toward the leadership rather than beginning with the leadership and spreading toward the membership.”

 

San Francisco’s Millennium Tower is in trouble. The 58-story tower is home to some of the city’s wealthiest people, its apartments among the most expensive and desirable in the city. But recently its residents have begun to notice some troubling issues. Engineers who studied the building have been alarmed to find it has sunk 16 inches in the 7 years since it was built. Not only that, but it has developed a 2-inch lean at the bottom which translates to a 6-inch lean at the top. Not surprisingly, the tower’s residents are more than a little concerned.

The problems with Millennium Tower begin at the bottom, all the way at the foundation. The first warning of the tower’s problems came when residents noticed floor-to-ceiling cracks running along the walls of the underground parking garage. These were new. These were alarming. Engineers installed stress gauges in some of the cracks and found they are slowly growing. They expect the tower will settle before it leans far enough to pose any great danger, but they can’t guarantee it. The tower isn’t necessarily doomed, but it is in considerable trouble.

Lately I’ve found myself pondering unity in the local church and considering that cracks in the unity of a church often begin at the bottom. They often begin at the foundation and work their way up to the roof. What I mean is that disunity often begins with the membership and spreads toward the leadership rather than beginning with the leadership and spreading toward the membership. This is not always the case, of course, but often it is.

Great ruptures in the church often begin with just one member gossiping about another or just two quarreling members who have no desire to pursue reconciliation. Great division often begins with a clique that refuses to integrate with the rest of the congregation or with a small group of people who make a disputable matter into a matter of spiritual life and death. Sometimes it’s one person who asks questions meant to cause others to doubt the good intentions of the pastors. The greatest rifts can have their genesis in even the most innocuous words or actions.

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