15 Jul A Vision for CommUNITY
The Bible casts a vision for the church that I call CommUNITY. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; ‘ one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.’” (Ephesians 4:4-6 NIV). Oneness and unity should characterize the church because we have the one and same Lord, the same one faith, and the same Father. Then why is unity in the church so difficult and rarely found? We want to briefly explore this problem and how CommUNITY might be developed more effectively in your local church.
If you have participated in church life, you know how difficult church unity can be. I have moderated many church conflicts where members were yelling at each other and their leaders because they had very different perspectives on how the church should be run. These different perspectives don’t always get voiced in public meetings, however. Often, they do their damage as they are shared as prayer requests, conversations in the parking lot, or comments made over a breakfast meeting. Rather than CommUNITY, our churches are often characterized by CommDISUNITY.
A pastor posted on his Facebook page this week the following quote, “Why do so many people in the church know more about how to run the church than the pastor?” I personally question the wisdom of posting such a statement as I doubt this will encourage further unity, but it has a ring of truth as it gained many “likes” almost instantaneously. Whether we like it or not, the truth is that unity in the church is difficult to achieve.
Jesus elevated unity in the church as something that would enable the world to recognize that God was present in the church when he said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35). Love and unity are supernatural evidence of God’s presence in the church. It isn’t found in the world. But Jesus expected it to be found in the church. It is part of God’s divine plan to make God visible in our world. Is CommUNITY possible today in the church?
I believe that CommUNITY is not only possible today in the church, but it is essential to the mission of the church. The lack of unity tears apart the witness of the church in the community. Rather than the church becoming a visual representation of the love of Christ in the world, it has the opposite effect. Without unity, we will find it difficult to carry out the ministry of the church in the world.
Disunity in the church is nothing new. It was a problem in the early church. The book of Acts doesn’t hide these problems but highlights the problems and how they were handled. The book of 1 Corinthians has at its focus the problem of disunity in one local church. The source of the problem is our sinful nature. We take what God has given us by his Spirit for blessing and make it a weakness. The Spirit of God distributes to the body various gifts and ministries each according to the will of God. We are not each given the same gifts. God created diversity. His diversity includes race, personality, gifts, motivations, strengths, etc. This was done for the accomplishment of God’s purposes in the church and then to the world.
Have you ever noticed that rather than appreciating each other’s spiritual gifts, we tend to let those gifts divide us? If I have the gift of mercy, I criticize those who don’t seem to care for those who are hurting. If I have the gift of administration, I see others as disorganized and are critical of them. Our own strengths become priorities and we want others to embrace what we believe is most important. If I have the gift of faith, I may be critical of those who are timid and fearful about taking risk.
SDI can help us develop more unity in the church. The reason it is helpful is that people are not always aware of why they are feeling a certain way about other people. When they learn about motivations and behaviors and how they are expressed by others in their MVS, they gain greater understanding of themselves and others. They grow in empathy and learn how to work with other people who are wired differently from them. They increase in their appreciation of their differences and don’t see others as a threat to themselves. In essence, they learn to act more loving toward each other.
We also know that many of the gifts of the Spirit correlate with different MVS’s. For instance, those with the gift of mercy are almost always strong in the BLUE MVS. Those who are strong in the gift of faith are most often RED. Those who are great at organization and administration are usually strong in the GREEN MVS. I have found that those who have grown in self-awareness through SDI training are able to transfer that learning quite effectively to the context of the church and become facilitators of unity.
I have trained many boards that were divided and had trouble working together. We implemented SDI training and experienced CommUNITY as a result. I am convinced that a church that incorporated emotional intelligence training of the SDI into their discipleship training for members, will also increase the unity of their church. Understanding that God created each of us with his personalized design of not just gifts and talents, but also personalities and motivations and strengths, will facilitate a healthier unified congregation. We will be challenged to love each other if we don’t understand each other!
What if we added to the discipleship of our members training to help people understand that God made each of us uniquely with his personal design? What if people better understood why they prefer one thing over another and appreciate the viewpoint of others because of their design?
What is your plan to develop unity in your congregation? I am convinced that disunity is the greatest killer of church/Gospel advancement in today’s world. Disunity destroys trust. Without trust we have to slow everything down to make sure everyone stays together.
You have experienced SDI training through Consentia Group, so you have had your eyes open to God’s design in other people. Perhaps God will use you to make that wisdom available to the greater church body. Let us pray together for true CommUNITY.
Would you post your experience of growing in unity as a result of your SDI training? How have you better understood others and learned how to communicate more effectively? How have you equipped others and what was the result? Post and share your experiences to encourage others…