“Making Disciples” is the church’s number #1 assignment given directly from the lips of Jesus in Matthew 28:19. Aubrey Malphurs lists ten major barriers that churches are facing as they strive to make disciples. This series of blogs examines these ten components. Here’s the list again:
- Lack of vision;
- Lack of outreach and passion;
- Congregations not willing to change;
- Lack of leadership-intentional leader training;
- Lack of prayer;
- Lack of unity;
- Congregation too comfortable;
- Little ownership of mission/purpose;
- Resistant power structures;
- Church unwilling to adapt to a changing culture.
Last week we looked at lack of prayer. We now focus on lack of unity or disunity.
It is hard, even impossible, to carry out the mission of the church and the command to “make disciples” when congregations are at war with each other. Their energies are not focused on reaching and discipling people, but on their own personal agendas. Much of what breaks the fellowship and unity of a church is not great theologically issues, but our own preferences and selfish desires.
In serving churches for over 35 years I have observed that this factor of “unity” is central in church growth. A healthy church will grow and unity reflects a church’s true health. When the body is healthy all systems are working together. When a church is healthy all systems and groups of people are working together for the glory of Christ.
Unity happens when the members of a church allow the Holy Spirit to work in them and through them. As we grow in Christ, we mature and do not demand our own way but think of the overall good of the Body. The Bible is replete with references to this issue…
Psalms 133:1 reads, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!”
Romans 15:5-6 “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 4:3, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Colossians 3:14, “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Jesus said in John 17:23, “I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Jesus said that unity shows the world that He was sent by God and that He loves us. It is like a magnate that attracts people. Many organizations today are in turmoil and disarray, but the church should be a place of peace, love, and unity in Christ.
Jesus also said in John 17:11, “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name – the name you gave me – so that they may be one as we are one.”
A church’s unity reflects the unity in the holy Trinity. What would happen if churches had that quality of oneness and that unity of purpose and heart? It would get the world’s attention! When we don’t have that type of unity we also get the world’s attention, but it is negative, worldly, and hurts our efforts and witness in order to reach people for Christ.
Lead your church to pray and experience unity and oneness of spirit. Keep the mission of “make disciples” evident in all you do. Mature Christians (disciples) can disagree agreeably and still be brothers and sisters in God’s forever family. We can experience unity without uniformity.
So how would you rate your church in the area of “unity or oneness?” What will you do to move your church to be a place of unity?