When I was in high school back in the day, it always seemed that every student knew of a fight about 5 minutes before any responsible adults could intervene. This meant there was always time to witness the circling, the cussing, the few thrown punches of a fight between boys, or the rolling around the floor, hair-pulling, eye-gouging action of a girl fight, all without being late to class. Personally, I always found these things part of the entertainment provided free while I served out my 12 year public school sentence.
Now that I am a grown man, my prospects for viewing really good hand-to-hand combat have shifted to other venues like Sunday night football and the occasional household spat between my children. Oh, and occasionally within the Church, as part of my pastoral calling, like my calling as a father, has involved maturing beyond being a side-picking spectator and becoming the neutral, responsible adult.
Not that there is any hair-pulling or punches thrown in church, of course, though that would certainly be cleaner. Church fights take the form of offense deliberately (and sometimes accidentally) given which turn into grudges lovingly nursed, negative votes cast, and angry words spoken and written. A disagreement hardens into a fractured relationship, which grows into a faction as sides are chosen, which then metastasizes into a split, a new church, a new denomination, or even "a new way of doing church" (Rob Bell, call your office!).
All this is hardly new, as even people promising "new ways of doing church" have a long pedigree. Because no matter what happens when a new church starts (for whatever reason), eventually the sinners make it through the filters and take up residence there, just like they were present in the old place. And yet, hope springs eternal for some way of "doing church" in which all the sinners will somehow always get along and never have to swallow their pride, confess their sins to one another, and be reconciled. We think, naively, "Well, if we just had more people like me, then things would be perfect." Which are the thoughts of prideful fools. The only way the Church becomes the Church in the way it should be is as it grows to be more like Jesus. And the only way that happens is if we learn to humble ourselves and "agree with each other in the Lord" (Phil. 4:2).