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Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. Luke 11:17

Unity in the church is essential, but it is rarely achieved. We can easily get caught up in denominations, styles of music, theological intricacies or personal preferences rather than uniting around the mission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). Here are three practical steps towards church unity:

 

1. Determine that the mission truly is more important than your preference.

 

 

If we’re really going to be united, we have to be united around something and someone. We need to be united around Jesus and the mission he gave us: make disciples in all nations. That’s it. That’s the mission. 

At the end of our lives, when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ and have to give an account with how we utilized the vast wealth, time, knowledge, resources and energy he gave us, what kind of questions do we expect him to ask? When he asks us to give an account for our lives, do we really think he’ll ask:

    Were you able to go to church at least once a month as long as your weekends were free?

    Were you comfortable in church? Did you have all the programs you wanted? Did you get the parking space you wanted? Did you sing the songs that you wanted to sing?

No! He’s not going to hold us accountable for our preferences. He’s going to hold us accountable for the mission. Did you make disciples? “Well, I attended over 1000 hours of Bible study, can name the books of the Bible in order and even memorized an entire chapter!”

Did you make disciples?

That’s the mission. We have to decide that the mission truly is more important than our preference, and then we have to act like it. That’s how we become united.

 

2. Have skin in the game.

Shared sacrifice creates a powerful bond of unity. When you felt the most united with your coworkers wasn’t when you had an easy week, no major projects and everyone got to go home early. You felt the most united with your coworkers when you had to come together, there was a major project, something changed last minute, you had to pull an all-nighter or work through the weekend, but you made the deadline, got the contract, made the sell, whatever.

When you sacrifice, you become united. How do you have skin in the game at church? Volunteer at your church, don’t just attend. Give generously to fund the mission and ministries of the church. When you bring someone with you to church, you have skin in the game. I guarantee you’ll see church completely different when you’re sitting next to an unchurched person you’ve brought for the first time.

 

 

3. Instead of criticizing, be curious.

This is key. We can hope for pie in the sky unity, but sooner or later, we’re going to disagree on something. You may not like how someone else dresses, how someone else sings, what they sing. You may take it upon yourself to start handing out breath mints to certain people as a public service. We’ll disagree. It’s going to happen. But instead of criticizing, if we can be curious, it will go a long way towards unity.

Be curious. Assume the other person isn’t a complete idiot. They probably have a really good reason to believe what they believe, even if you don’t agree with it. If we put more of our energy on being curious about what drives the other side of the argument than automatically criticizing it, we’ll see our unity strengthened to new heights.

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