Blog Entries

Reconciling a Church Split

From the series Peacemaking in China

A pastor and an elder of a local church in China had not spoken to each other for four months. My heart ached when I heard this news. In John 13:34–35 Jesus said to his followers, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” What would cause two leaders of a church, who believe this teaching, to not speak to one another for such a long time? Without consulting the pastor, the elder—a successful businessman in the community—had hired a seminary graduate and taken a group of believers from the church to start a new church in his company warehouse. As a result, the pastor and elder stopped speaking to one another, and the church split.

Regrettably, if you have been a Christian for a while, you most likely have either heard of a church split or experienced one. While many church splits do not have a happy ending relationally, I know of at least one that does—this one! Sometime after this split happened, a provincial church leader held a three-day training event for church leaders in that area and asked everyone present the question: What price are you paying spiritually, emotionally, physically, and relationally to continue hating your brother? The pastor in the conflict seriously reflected on this question, sought help from the trainer, and his relationship with the elder was restored. In 2024, let’s pray for the Holy Spirit’s reviving work among us so we may see relational restoration such as this take place in our ministry contexts as well!

Concluding Words

The book cover for Changing Normal: Break Through Barriers to Pursuing Peace in Relationships

Thank you for joining me on this “Peacemaking in China” blog journey throughout 2023. My hope is that this series has provided helpful insights as well as whetting your appetite for more. The blog posts in this series have consisted of excerpts from my new book, Changing Normal: Break Through Barriers to Pursuing Peace in Relationships which is now available on Amazon. This book provides a culturally sensitive guide to practically living out and obeying Christ’s command to love one another (John 13:34) in contexts of high face-sensitivity. The simplified and traditional Chinese versions of Changing Normal will be available later in the year. My dream of both English- and Chinese-speaking church leadership and family members being able to each read this book in their heart language and discuss the content together will finally be realized when that happens.

Lastly, I encourage you to add “sign up for a biblical peacemaking training” to your 2024 personal development list. Or perhaps arrange a peacemaking seminar for your church. Some practical in-person or online training may be just what you need to break through personal, spiritual, or cultural barriers currently keeping you, your family, team, or church from becoming peacemakers in everyday life situations.

While conflict is unavoidable and differences abound,
may these not be reasons to give up on our relationships,
rather may they provide motivation to abide in more fully Jesus
and learn how to love in expanded ways.  

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Image credit: Tengyart via UnSplash.
Jolene Kinser

Jolene Kinser

Having spent much of the time between 1997 and 2020 committed to working overseas in China, Jolene Kinser now lives in southern California. Jolene works as a global Chinese peacemaking ministry developer and educator and as a peacemaking specialist under the South Pacific District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Jolene …View Full Bio

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