When A Church Fights

I saw this story today (you can read it here) and it’s a shame when this stuff hits the press. Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church has had at tremendous influence on the shaping of both church and culture in America over the past couple of decades. Any previous negative press focused disproportionately on the ministry’s conservative political positions. Up until now, I believe most evangelicals would have had a positive image of the church.

Unfortunately, the transition of “power” created a new story line, one that is much less positive. It’s unfortunate when these situations happen. I wish there was a way to let people peer into a “vision” of what the future holds when you walk down a road of dissention and quarreling. In conflict, an organization’s image and influence is greatly tarnished. There are costly casualties of war. People hurt for a lifetime and often never heal from the wounds inflicted during the battle. Conflict becomes the new branding for the organization. No longer can you sing, “We Are One in the Bond of Love!” Everyone knows it too, the church and the community. You are seen as hypocritical and less than authentic. Who wants your drama when they have enough of their own?

I’m not taking a position or choosing sides in this debate, I don’t know the pastor or the people involved in this conflict. What I do know is that every day this open conflict raises its ugly head is another day of irreparable damage that’s inflicted upon member’s lives and the organization’s good name. At minimum, it takes seven years of positive influence for a church to live down or overcome a fightin’ reputation.

To be honest, I’m not surprised. You could have predicted this would happen. Most would have expected it. Dr. Kennedy was Coral Ridge Church. His life and influence shaped Coral Ridge over his long exceptional tenure. A change in leadership following a legend is sure to raise a quarrel or two. My advice to Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church is to settle this dispute quickly, appropriately, and biblically. Learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before you. Don’t destroy an organization’s good name or impede its tremendous future. There’s too much at stake; this is about Kingdom stuff.