Christians, let’s stop fighting each other and serve our neighbors in need instead

A few weeks ago, I invited an influential evangelical pastor in Northern California to tour a local Bethany Christian Services location and meet with our social workers. We talked about a variety of things, including care for parents facing an unintended pregnancy, children waiting for adoptive homes, the foster care crisis in America, and welcoming our neighbors who are refugees or unaccompanied children.

We discussed another interesting topic as well. I asked, “How can we help Christians move forward in unity for the sake of the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, despite our many differences?”

You don’t have to look far to see division within American Christianity. We’re still divided over the 2020 election, racial justice, even wearing face masks.

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According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, more than 200 Christian denominations operate in the United States. And there is talk of more denominational splits in the coming year.

Division is causing people to abandon Christian churches. Last year, Barna found that the share of practicing Christians has dropped nearly in half since 2000. Gallup recently reported that U.S. church membership fell below 50% for the first time in eight decades.

Pastor Andy Stanley recently cited the top five reasons that people leave the church. On the list was “they had a bad church experience,” where church members prioritized or defended viewpoints over people.

I can’t help thinking that there could be a correlation between our public infighting and the undeniable fact that fewer people want to be associated with us.

Young adults flee the church

In a 2017 Lifeway Research survey, a majority (66%) of Americans ages 23-30 said they stopped attending church on a regular basis for at least a year after turning 18. Among their top reasons was that church members seemed divisive, judgmental or hypocritical.

Pastor Andy Stanley of the Atlanta area recently cited the top five reasons that people leave the church. On the list was “they had a bad church experience,” where church members prioritized or defended viewpoints over people.

At this pivotal moment in American history, I present every Christian with the question I asked that day in California: How can Christians move forward in unity despite our doctrinal differences across denominations? Is that even possible?

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