In John 17 Jesus prayed for himself, for his disciples, and for all believers. One of the things he prayed for all believers was that "they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one." Jesus understood that if the church was to accomplish its mission it had to be united.
Divisions within the church will always cause the church to be ineffective. A divided church cannot enjoy any kind of meaningful ministry to its community because it is too focused on itself. Warring parties in a divided church are working hard to protect their turf and their private interests. They have little to no interest in anyone outside their little group.
A church without a unifying vision that the congregation owns will be a divided church. A church without such a vision will go nowhere and accomplish nothing. Even if they wanted to move forward, they wouldn't know where to go without a common vision. Some would want to go in one direction; others would want to go in a different direction, and there is where the division begins. Too often, both sides believe they are following the will of God so they are unwilling to compromise so the division leads to conflict.
BTW - the same is true of any organization. A family that cannot agree on finances will find itself in debt with no savings and in constant turmoil due to finances. A business that isn't certain what business it is in will struggle to find a loyal customer base. Soon they are trying to be all things to all people and end up seeing their competitors taking all their customers.
This week Congress returned to work and the childish behavior has already begun. The Republicans want one thing; the Democrats want something else, and both sides spin and lie trying to convince the American public they are fighting for them. It's no wonder that the approval rating for Congress remains in the low teens and that people are sick of both the Republican and Democrat parties. We have a divided, dysfunctional political system that cares only for its lobbyists and large donors, and as a result our nation is going down the tubes. I wrote before the election that few incumbents in Congress should be returned to office. Most were, and this first week back has proven that I was right. Maybe one day, if there is anything left of this country, voters will decide to vote for people who truly love this country and want the best for it more than they want to protect a political party that long ago became irrelevant.
Of course, this is true as well in the church. Until the church becomes more committed to the mission God gave it than it is to its controllers and unites around a common vision it will remain irrelevant to the Kingdom of God and to the community it has been called to serve.
Most of the things that divide the church today are minor compared to the task God has given us. It's time we determine what's really important and focus on those things and let the other things slide. Once we do, we'll find God's blessings again and begin to experience His blessings on our ministries.