Summary: In this sermon I talk about the importance of maintaining unity in the church and give practical ways a church can protect against disunity.
How To Protect Our Church
MESSAGE DISCLAIMER: Most of this message material was taken from a sermon Rick Warren (Saddleback Church) preached to his core leadership. This sermon fit right in with what our church is (was) going through at the time. I used the manuscript from his "Leadership Lifter" series.
I want to get very practical with all of you tonight. I want to talk about something that is very important to the heart of God and that is unity. Unity is absolutely essential to reach any kind of achievement. It’s needed in families. To have a happy family, you have to have unity there. It’s needed in business. Employees must learn to get along. It’s needed in government in order for the government to get anything done. Our government can be brought to a standstill whenever the different parties cannot get along. On a football team, players have to be unified in order to win and just putting guys in the same jersey doesn’t automatically make them a team as you very well know.
But especially in the church, there must be unity for God to be able to work and for the church to become all that God wants it to be.
When you join NCC (some of you will be doing that next week) you signed or will sign a membership covenant. One of the things you agree to is that you will protect your church by promoting unity. Unity is a key theme in the Bible. The Bible talks more about unity than it does heaven and hell. It is up to EVERY member to help protect the church’s unity. Churches are made up of people and believe it or not there are no perfect people. So people get into conflict with each other so we need to learn how to deal with it.
First of all let me talk to you about the importance of unity in the church.
1. Jesus prayed for it. John 17:20-26
The world will be won to Christ when the church is one. It is key to reaching the unchurched.
2. Remember, the church is a fellowship. Fellowship is not something we do but something we are. Acts 2:42 (PH) “They continued steadily learning the teachings of the apostles and joined in the fellowship.” Since the church is a fellowship if you destroy the unity and harmony of the church you destroy the church.
3. We are commanded to make unity the top priority. Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bonds of peace.” One of your primary jobs as a member of this church is not only to be involved in ministry but also promote peace. Whatever it takes!
4. Any attitude that causes disunity is sin. We need to make sure we are regularly checking our attitudes.
5. Unity is a witness to the world. John 13:34-35 “Jesus said, ‘By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you love one another.” When a church loves each other there is unity and harmony. Visitors will walk into the service and say “There’s something going on in here that I want.”
Bill Hybels, the pastor of Willow Creek Community Church just outside of Chicago makes this statement. “If you create a loving community, first time seekers will sniff it and say “I want in.” (www.sermoncentral.com)
The neat thing is that we don’t all have to be alike to maintain unity. We can be from different backgrounds ethnically, vocationally, and still walk arm and arm. We don’t have to all come out of the same mold. What draws us together is our common love for Jesus Christ. I thought it was so cool when months ago we had someone visit our church with spiked purple hair! We want people to come tattoos and all!
6. God blesses the unified church. Acts 2:46-47 “They had all things in common..they were all of one heart…one accord..And so the Lord added daily to the church.” God can help but bless a unified church. God is looking for warm fellowships to place new Christians where they can be nurtured. I am glad God has chosen NCC to be one of those places. I want to continue to see that happen. You cannot stop a unified church. God will be able to do so much with us.
I’ve gone through that fairly quickly because that doesn’t apply to you. It applies to me and the other elders and staff. We need you to pray for us.
Now I want to spend most of the time on what YOU are supposed to do.
First of all Scripture identifies at least 7 reasons why people leave the church.
1. Some people leave because of illness. In a church of any size there will be people who will get sick and will not be able to come to church. We need to be ready as a church to take the church to them. Matthew 25 Jesus says, “I was sick and you visited me.” We need to be ready to do that.