The Church in Visible Unity

Last night, I was chatting to a friend of mine who is part of the worship ministry of a young thriving church.  He told me how he took a phone call from the worship coordinator of a small church who had a heart for worship ministry, but struggled with manpower and resources.

We were actually talking in the context of how excellence inspires growth in our teams.  The problem for this small church was:  how do we grow a team when you have very few people, let alone those who are skilled.

There’s obviously no easy answer for a small church, and I don’t think we could have solved the problem talking theoretics around the dinner table, no matter how good the wine was!

But it got me thinking:  what if larger churches shared their resources with smaller churches as a show of unity?

What I’ve found (and I could be wrong on this) is that most churches “hoard” their resources.  I don’t mean that in a mean or critical way.  But that’s just the way it happens.  Team leaders have to look after their members first.  Further, their members have signed up to serve God through their local church, and local churches have already set programs in line with the commitments of their personnel (or at the very least what they think is in accordance with their congregation’s volunteer capacity).  So for people to look beyond their own local congregation is difficult.

But I said to my friend that if I had a team say of three bands, I might free up one band to be a resource to smaller churches in need of help.

Have you ever been on a mission trip?  I’ve been on three now (not a massive record) but I’ve found that each time, it’s helped me to know the people on my team a lot better and also exposed my weaknesses a lot more.  Inevitably, you become vulnerable and authentic.  Being on a mission trip grows your character.

I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that those on the mission team are brought into focus around a particular purpose.  Contrast this to serving regularly week in, week out during Sunday services.  People begin to coast and start taking things for granted, including the need for personal growth.

What if every now and then, you send one of your bands out on a project to help another church build its worship team and gain some traction in its worship services?

It would help the smaller church to be sure, but ultimately, it also brings growth to your team in terms of character, attitude and skill.  As they say, the best way to learn sometimes is to teach.

Today at Faith Community Church, Pastor Benny smashed another sermon out of the ballpark.  It made me laugh and (nearly) cry all at once.  But one thing he shared at the beginning brought me back to my conversation with my friend last night.  For God to bring transformation; for Christ to reconcile all things to himself (in terms of spiritual, ethnic, gender, marital, family and marketplace reconcilation), the church must stand together in visible unity.  This is more than Christians saying they are united in spirit.   It’s more than just sharing the same beliefs and ethos.  I think it means Christians joyfully and practically working together to bring transformation in our communities.

I just think about worship and liturgy.  How many churches and denominations have split over things like infant baptism, communion, worship styles?  In the context of worship, what if instead of being divided, we started to unite and heal?  What if we overlooked differences in style (and dare I say even theology) and start working practically together towards the common cause of Christ’s glory?  And not just once a year towards one big event, but regularly?

If we had that mindset, my friend might have been able to say something like this to the small church worship coordinator:  “well, I don’t know how you will solve your problem in the long term, but what if I helped kick start the solution and send a team to help you, and in turn, inspire your church members to serve?”

That would be a show of visible unity.  Even if it’s doing it in only a small way.  Imagine if that happened all over the city of Perth – churches sharing resources with each other across different ministry areas, until one day, we all come to the realisation that there really is only one church in the city consisting of many congregations.