Summary: Unity is a vital part of the local church, a church plagued by division will not be effective in her mission or purpose.
• SLIDE #1
• You have heard the phrase, “WE NEED TO DEAL WITH THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM?”
• The elephant in the room is that Christianity has an image problem, according to many of its adherents and detractors alike.
• What do you do when you have an image problem with a business? Re-Brand themselves or repackage their product!
• In 2007, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons published unChristian, a book that examines many of the negative perceptions of Christianity that plague the church, particularly in Europe and North America.
• They used Barna research that found 38% of Americans between ages 16 and 29 had a "bad impression" of Christianity (David Van Biema, “Christianity’s Image Problem,” TIME, October 2, 2007, http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1667639,00.html).
• Barna’s research in 2016 mirrors this same sentiment: “Americans are attending church less, and more people are experiencing and practicing their faith outside of its four walls. … Add to this the broader secularizing trend in American culture, and a growing antagonism toward faith claims” (“The State of the Church 2016,” Barna, September 15, 2016, https://www.barna.com/research/state-church-2016/)
• In light of all these image problems, does the church need a “rebranding”?
• While we have embraced it and technology has altered it, the concept of “branding” is not a modern-day invention.
• In 1 Corinthians 1:10–17, Paul addresses divisions in the church at Corinth, divisions caused mainly by people identifying with a particular teacher above Christ.
• Verse 12 shows the divisions that were built around these allegiances.
• The problems the Corinthian Church was facing were problems that left unchecked, would damage their ability to carry our mission and purpose.
• Not only did the church at Corinth have a branding problem, but they also had the same problem that has mostly caused our current "image problem": division, pride, and dissension over nonessentials.
• While we may look to “branding” to solve our problem, the church at Corinth teaches us a powerful lesson: the solution we think may help our image will often ultimately only re-inscribe the same problems and pitfalls.
• Sticking a new catchy name on the Church sign or coming up with some catchy program (by the way I am not against any of those ideas) will not fix the image problems of a church unless something deeper happens within each local church.
• Over the next four weeks, we will examine the concept of ReBranding as we look at refocusing our mission and purpose in some areas within the church that we need to make sure are strong so that we do not inhibit the mission we are called to carry out.
• We will examine four areas of focus that will help turn to revitalize the image of the local church, the areas of unity, evangelism, Mission, as well as our commitment to the ministry of reconciliation.
• Today we will examine the potential image problem the Corinthian church was going to face unless they dug deep to correct the problem.
• One thing we will see is that division in the church prevents its faithful witness in the world.
• Let’s start with 1 Corinthians 1:10
• SLIDE #2
• 1 Corinthians 1:10 (CSB) — 10 Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction.
• SLIDE #3
I. The plea for unity.
• Paul begins this letter to the Corinthian Church with thanksgiving, but in verse 10, we see a shift of thought with the little word NOW.
• He is shifting thought from the Brightside of things to a problem that needed to be addressed!
• The problem was a clear and present danger for this young church, so Paul uses the strongest possible language when he says, I URGE you.
• Paul, being an Apostle could be gone down the command route; however, he wanted the folks to do what he was about to ask them to do from the heart, but under compulsion.
• Then he deepens the plea by asking them to do this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
• This shows you the urgency of the appeal.
• Paul is offering a plea for unity.
• A lack of unity within the church can be damaging to the image and mission of the church.
• We see what a lack of unity has done to government.
• Paul is asking the church to do three things.
• That they agree with another in what we say.
• That there be no divisions among them.
• That they are united in the same understanding (or mind) and the same conviction (or thought).