Divided We … Fail

August 3, 2023

If you go back to 2020, it’s like Satan called an all-staff meeting. He got everybody in the room and said, “All right. New strategy. We actually don’t have to defeat the church anymore. We’re just going to divide them. Because if we divide them, they’ll defeat themselves.”

We’re just going to divide them. Because if we divide them, they’ll defeat themselves.

Have you ever noticed how frequently the New Testament connects unforgiveness to division and demonic activity? In 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul commands us to forgive so “Satan might not outwit us.” James 3:15 says bitter people are “earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.” Ephesians 4:26-27: “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Why the huge connection between bitterness, division, and unforgiveness and demonic activity? If heaven is where everybody is forgiven and hell is where nobody is forgiven, then when we forgive we pull heaven down into our lives, but when we don’t forgive we pull hell up into our lives. We cannot expect the power of the Holy Spirit when we are inviting unholy spirits into our churches through bitterness and division.

Over the last few years, there are three movements of churches crystallizing. But they’re staying radically apart, and they have internal commitments that result in them being suspicious of each other. Here we go.

Doctrinal Churches

Category 1, I call these doctrinal churches. They have a high emphasis on the Word of God. They reverse engineer all their decisions from this primary commitment. They love theological precision and sound doctrine. They discern truth from error. These churches don’t teach messages; they exposit text. We’re kind of poking fun, but doctrine matters. We are called to contend for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. If the Church will not clearly teach the difference between truth and error, if the Church won’t disciple people, the world will. But we can end up teaching the doctrines of Christ with the spirit of the Pharisees. 

Attractional Churches

Category 2, let’s call these attractional churches. They have this really high commitment to the mission of God. They love reaching the lost. They love seeing churches grow. High emphasis on excellence, leadership, vision, strategic planning. They act like heaven and hell are real and like lost people matter. But sometimes you get so seeker sensitive that you downplay or deny the parts of the faith that are unpopular. So these churches are susceptible to compromise. 

Charismatic Churches

Category 3, charismatic churches. High emphasis on the Spirit of God. They use words like breakthrough and power encounter. These are big faith, prayer cultures. Huge focus on the reality of the angelic and the demonic. This is the fastest-growing movement in Church history. But these churches sometimes prioritize the gifts of the Spirit over the fruits of the Spirit.

So what was Paul’s evangelism strategy?…Word, deed, power of signs and wonders.

So what was Paul’s evangelism strategy? He spelled it out only once, in Romans 15:18-19: “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done—by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God.” Word, deed, power of signs and wonders. Doctrinal churches, that’s word ministry. They’re going to make sure you understand the gospel is clear. Attractional churches, that’s deed. These are the churches who came up with serving evangelism. Charismatic churches, all about the power of signs and wonders, an active supernatural expectation of the Holy Spirit. Put them together, and you’ve got New Testament evangelism

These are the churches Paul planted to take over the empire of Rome—and it worked! His churches were doctrinal. They were attractional. They were charismatic. They were empowered to accomplish this “lost cause,” and so are we.

R.T. Kendall says there has been a “silent divorce” in the Church between Word churches and Spirit churches. As in any divorce, some kids go with the mom, and some kids go with the dad. “But if these two would come together … the world will be turned upside down again.”

Father, would you do it? Multiply it over and over, and over and over again for the glory of the nations. Amen.

Josh Howerton

Josh Howerton

Josh Howerton is the Lead Pastor of Lakepointe Church, a church of over 15,000 in physical attendance with 7 locations in two languages in the US and Mexico. Lakepointe has also planted 56 churches in North American urban centers through the Strategic Launch Network.
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