Over the past few weeks I have had numerous conversations with numerous pastors of churches in numerous different stages of life and ministry. Among some of the conversations that I was having, the idea of having a united leadership team kept coming up. Because of that, along with a few personal reasons, I wanted to share this.
The number one priority of the enemy is to bring division. Since he cannot bring division between God's people and God himself, the next best thing is to bring division among the bride of Christ, more specifically its leadership. This can be created in numerous ways. Sexual sin, financial scandals, pride, etc…. But in my experience, this disunity starts in very subtle ways and eventually snowballs out of control. Because of that, I feel this is important for all of our partners / leaders to wrestle with this.
It is vital that we continue to fight for unity among ourselves. With the nature of how our culture typically communicates through occasional meetings and email we will have to work extra hard to fight for this. To add to the chaos, we have an incredible church, full of very gifted people with strong leadership capabilities. And, many of us are wired very different. If we are not careful, the strong personalities we have and our unique individual wiring will cause us to see our differences as hindrances rather than strengths. This is the first tactic the enemy uses in bring division. For the sake of the gospel, we have to remember how the enemy attacks and fight together for purity, humility and love of one another.
Here are 6 guidelines for us to think through as a church. I didn't come up with these, but am using them to guide my thoughts.
1. Let’s avoid gossiping.
The New Testament warns against gossiping. Gossiping is anytime we talk about one another to someone other than that person. Gossip is talking without the motive of seeking to be corrected ourselves and united to the person we are talking about. Among us, there should never be any gossip. Never!! The mission is too big and a local church is to fragile. All of us should search our hearts and repent of this sin immediately if necessary. If your brother has sinned against you, annoys you, bothers you, frustrates you, etc…Go directly to him / her and nobody else.
2. Let’s identify evidences of grace in each other and speak them to each other and about each other.
This is such a powerful opportunity for encouragement. It is so easy to get frustrated in church world. The bible calls us family, and we all know that families fight. However, for every negative thing we see in one anothers lives there should be 10 things that we see that is evidence of God's grace in their life. We have got to check our hearts and ask the question “why is it so easy to see the negatives yet so difficult to see God's grace.” Fight to see the evidence of Gods grace in our lives. Beg God to show you that in one another and pray fervently for a deep love for one another. Outside of God's miraculous grace, this cannot be obtained.
3. Let’s speak criticism directly to each other if we feel the need to speak to others about it.
Criticism is necessary. We all must get better at what we do. Whether it is parenting, the way we speak to one another, spiritual disciplines, our commitment levels, gifts and talents, etc...we should all desire to get better at what we do. And, the primary way we get better is when we can lovingly come along side of one another and offer helpful critique. Lets always fight for unity by speaking critique to one another as a means of encouragement. Hold one another accountable to this. Go directly to one another, and don't wait to do this. Do this personally and never offer criticism through email or text. Unity is to valuable and fragile, therefore we must handle it with care.
4. Let’s look for, and assume, the best motive in the others viewpoint, especially when we disagree.
In such a technological world, most of us are typically behind a computer when conversing. The downfall with that is it's nearly impossible to know a persons motive since you can't see body language or hear tone. Especially when we disagree. We have always got to assume the best of one another. This is not an option, this is the only option. Every great relationship is built on trust. Not just trust that we will do what we say, but trust even when we don't come through for one another. Here are some questions to ponder...How have we lacked trust lately? Who do I not trust and do they know that I don't trust them? Is my lack of trust, my issue or theirs? How have I assumed the worse?
5. Let's think often of the magnificent things we hold in common.
For every difference we have, we have 100 things in common. We all love Jesus. We all love the bride of Christ. We all love Netcast and want to see this local body flourish. We all love one another. We all are committed to a vision and mission....and the list can go on. Always remember that there is much more commonality to celebrate than there is differences to point out. How often do you just praise Jesus for how He has unified our church? I pray that we grow in this area.
6. Let’s be more amazed that we are forgiven than that we are right.
Let’s shape our relationships by the gospel. I want to fight for righteousness rather than fight to be right. In church world, this may be our biggest temptation. There are seldom times where there will be one “right” way to do something. In actuality, there are multiple of ways to do the things that we do together as a team. As Netcast grows and our influence grows, our tendency will be to fight to be right, and in the process neglect our desire for righteousness. Because of that, I am calling us to out-do one another with honor. As we fight to out-do one another in honor, our pride is crushed, humility is birthed and Jesus can continue to anoint and bless our lives and ministries.
All of you are like family to me. I pray that God gives us a special unity. Join me in fighting for this through prayer and dedication. It is our spiritual act of worship. Worship well Netcast!!
- Pastor Matt