Can a little chaos be a good thing for your church? This provocative question is another asked by the Imagine Summit 2016, an upcoming online conference you can be a part of by clicking here.
Is a little heresy good for the church? I would definitively argue ‘yes,’ as long as the heresy is a sign of growth and outreach. The truth is, whenever you reach new people through your church, you’re going to invite a little heresy into your fellowship. The perfectly aligned (doctrinally and theologically) believers out there are most likely already content in their own churches. Everyone that’s left to reach are heretics. If you’re attempting to reach lost people, you’re attempting to bring a little heresy into your church.
Some purists out there may object, “We want no heresy! It’s not biblical!” I would then point you to the church in Corinth and our biblical book of 1 Corinthians. Especially read chapter 5:1, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife.” You’ll find that it’s very ‘biblical’ to experience a little heresy in your church.
The key is the source of heresy. If the heresy coming into your church accompanies the droves of new people, that’s a good thing. That means you’re reaching heretics. But if your church is not growing and experiencing heresy, that’s a sign of inner stagnation, a dangerous development that could turn into a cancer if not cut out.
I would argue that a little heresy is a sign of growth, because growth is messy. By bringing unsaved heretics into your church, you’re inviting their unsaved heresies too. As a church we don’t have to fear that because of the saving work of Christ and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. That’s why we have leaders in the church, to guard the flock. A little heresy can be a good thing in that it keeps you on your toes, it keeps you focused, it keeps you battle-ready and non-complacent. A little heresy can keep you in fighting shape.
If the enemy leaves your church completely alone, that’s actually not a good thing! It’s a sign that your church isn’t threatening his kingdom. Jesus tells us in John 16:33 that in this world we will have trouble. If we want complete peace, we’ll have to wait. We’ll fully experience peace in the next world, but not this one.
If a little heresy is a sign that you’re reaching heretics, then wear that as a badge of honor. Do the hard work not only of loving them, but gently teaching and rebuking them with the truth of God’s word. But don’t be scared by a little heresy. Roll up your sleeves, jump into the mess, and do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5).
For this innovative question and many more, join us online at the Imagine Summit 2016.