Do not brag that you are better than those branches. But if you do brag--you do not sustain the root, but the root sustains you. Then you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." True enough; they were broken off by unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either. - Romans 11:18-21 HCSB

Sometimes, people will suggest that if they leave a church, that church will not function. They feel that theirs is the only way and are threatened by what they deem to be a loss of authority with the continuing growth of the church. They would rather be large fish in a small pond than small fish in a large one.

In fact, I’ve actually heard someone say, “I wish it could just go back to the way it was. It was simpler and easier before.” But how many souls would not have been saved were their wish granted? How many marriages would have been lost or lives destroyed? Is their personal comfort really worth that price?

If there is one thing that small congregations struggle with it is an “us…them” attitude that comes from many years of struggle to maintain the truth with few resources. A prevailing attitude of “we are the core and we’ve been faithful for years” and an innate distrust of the new people coming in develops.

But when the Bible says that we are to submit ourselves one to another out of reverence for Jesus Christ[1], does it mean only to the “core” group that has been there for years or to the entire body (including the “newbies”)? These same “old timers” often state that they believe in “congregational rule” but when the congregation decides to remove some of their authority, step back and watch the fireworks!

There is also a distrust of the authority of their pastor that may come from having poor pastors in the past. But when we are told to “obey our leaders and submit to them for they keep watch over your souls…and let them do it with joy and not with grief”[2], does this mean only when they do what we like or does it mean as long as they are teaching biblically sound doctrine?

Mankind’s prevailing sin has never been an overabundance of humility but of pride. It was Lucifer’s downfall and he tempted us with it too.[3] Even the great prophet Moses elevated himself and lost his temper.[4] Pride blinds us. Pride blinded both the Israelites[5] and the church of Laodicea.[6] Pride infested strife is abomination to Adonai.[7] The only way to have a right relationship with Him is to develop humility toward Him and toward our fellow man.[8]

We must be sure that we never feel that if we leave, God’s work will collapse. We must not fall into the trap of thinking that we are irreplaceable. If we do, we may very well wake up broken and Hashem’s opportunities for service removed from us and given to another.

[1] Ephesians 5:21

[2] Hebrews 13:17

[3] Isaiah 14:12-19 cp Genesis 3

[4] Numbers 20:10

[5] John 8:33

[6] Revelation 3:14-22

[7] Proverbs 6:16-19

[8] Ephesians 4:2; James 4:6,10; 1 Peter 3:8; 5:5