Lack of unity is one of the Enemy’s great schemes and plans to destroy the church. If he can get us fighting against each other, we become neutralized and of little threat.
Your church will not move forward without unity in direction (purpose), culture, and spirit.
Because we are human, it doesn’t take much to break down unity:
- One group likes a contemporary worship style and another group prefers traditional.
- One department got a smaller budget than the others.
- One segment of the congregation thinks there should be more emphasis on foreign missions than the church board has decided.
- One ministry received more platform announcement time than the others.
And on it goes…
This seems minor, even petty when we read it, but when you are in the middle of it the passion runs high and the emotions can get hot.
Pray that God would empower these words of Paul within your church.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 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.
In addition to continued prayer, lead these practical principles in your church.
Talk about the spiritual realities.
Division is nothing new for the local church. Paul openly addressed this issue in the New Testament. In fact, divisiveness is amongst the devil’s top tactics to distract and derail church leaders from what is really important. If the enemy can get us bickering, at odds or even against each other, the church is effectively neutralized. A spiritual attack is not something to hide behind as an excuse, it’s a reality to acknowledge and fight against. Click & Tweet! Prayer is your greatest offensive weapon, followed by great expressions of faith in what God can and will do!
Unity is not uniformity or conformity. It’s not about everyone agreeing with everything. The sake of biblical unity should never be leveraged as a way for a leader to get his or her own way. Unity is a solidarity among believers focused on the mission of the church, in order to advance God’s Kingdom purposes for the good of the people.
Division is focused on self and unity is focused on God. We divide, separate and go to battle when we lift up our own agenda over the greater good. It’s easy to cloak selfishness under the guise of righteous passion Click & Tweet! , but God designed the church to operate as a community moving in the same direction, not a bunch of lone rangers, each doing what is right in their own eyes.
Present clear communication of your vision.
We all talk a lot about a clear vision, and the reason is twofold. First, a significant percentage of churches still do not have a crystal clear vision for the future. Second, just because you have a vision doesn’t mean your people know it and have embraced it.
Here is a simple vision test:
- Does your vision inspire the congregation to invite new people?
- Do the new people return?
People don’t attend churches because of perfect programs, they attend because of compelling vision. Click & Tweet! They attend because they feel cared for and like they are part of something that matters.
Create a M.V.S. environment.
M.V.S. stands for Mutual Voluntary Submission. When the body of Christ willingly submits to one another, for the good of others, the grace and power of God seems to be unleashed in a powerful way. At the core of this is a servant heart and humility.
Ephesians 4:2 says: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
I’m not sure what “completely” humble means exactly, I may need to leave that to the scholars, but my strong hunch is that it would be difficult to overdo humility. I’m also confident that it must start with the leaders of the church. When we willingly bow to each other, great Kingdom power is released for your church!
Confront church bullies.
Extending grace to others is the right thing to do, but that doesn’t mean to let a church bully get his way. God calls us to be humble and submit to each other by serving one another, but sometimes confronting a troublemaker is necessary. Taking a stand in order to fight for unity is part of the responsibility of a leader. Click & Tweet! The body of Christ is counting on us as leaders to stand up.
Start with generous amounts of prayer, and give the benefit of the doubt. But over time, if it becomes clear that an individual does not have the church’s best interest at heart, and in fact favors their own agenda, it’s time to confront that person. Take a church leader with you and first ask questions. Seek to understand why they feel the way they do. But in the end, if they refuse to be reasonable, and act in the best interest of the church, it’s time to have them step down from leadership. If it persists, and they threaten to leave, don’t be afraid to let them go.
The devil loves gossip and hates faith. One sure way to improve unity is to reduce gossip and increase faith! Gossip is simple to fight, just refuse to listen when someone offers it. However, it’s not easy to fight because human nature feeds on it. So it’s important to agree together to be a no gossip church.
Try this, when someone is talking negatively about someone, say to them, “Hey, I think you should tell “Bob” what you are saying about him in person. I don’t agree with you on this, but I’ll go with you if you like.” That shuts it down about 100% of the time.
As for faith, remembering what God has done, and believing for things yet unseen will substantially build your faith. If you struggle with faith, get around people of great faith and ask God to increase your faith! He will!