When it comes to taking care of the city everybody agrees. Unity for the cause of Christ is the best course of action… in theory.
Sit down with a few pastors and each one of them will say something like, “I really want to figure out how to work together with the other church leaders in town” or “Jesus prayed for unity in the church and if we want to change the city with the Gospel, then we have to do it together.”
Everyone believes in cooperation for the gospel. But when you start talking about plans, strategy or details, you start hearing things like, “We have unity in love, but not in this work” or “Well, I can cheer for my brother in Christ, but my church can’t participate in this.”
Very quickly, you’ll begin to see that there are more lines drawn in the sand than we want to admit.
Right or wrong, we have to assess ourselves and consider whether our lines are valid or petty. Below are a list of common objections to unity in the work of caring for a city.
(This article is the negative – why we choose not to work together. For the positive – why we should be able to work together, check out another article.)
Competition and Arrogance
It’s patronizing, right? It makes you feel at least a little irritated, right?
What if someone approached you and mentioned that they found a way to do church that is different than yours and that it’s really working for them? And if you just got on board, then we could be much more productive.
You get that same slightly-irritated feeling, right? I mean, ultimately, they’re saying that the way that you’ve been doing things for years and have devoted your life to is wrong… or at least not as good.
Maybe the way they are speaking to you is very arrogant and patronizing. Granted. But according to Scripture, we are called to be slow to anger. Consider whether you are being quick to anger, and whether that anger is blinding you from quality ideas that would otherwise help the cause of Christ.
So-called theological differences
Say a project that someone is presenting to you sounds extremely exciting. Say that they have a strong organization and an easy way for your church to participate.
But they prescribe to Covenant Theology. Or maybe their flavor of dispensationalism rubs you the wrong way. Not to mention their views on Calvinism.
Sorry. We can’t participate, right?
Wrong. There is a good time to say no based on theology (such as someone denying the resurrection of Christ), but my observation is that most pastors are more quick to separate than they should be. St. Augustine once said, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” The non-essentials are often treated as essentials, and charity is forgotten altogether.
The “It’s not my mission” excuse
I get that every church is unique. I also get that every church will do things slightly different based on culture.
But those differences must be external only in order to relate to your people. In contrast, the church must be unified in function. The Great Commission was given to all of us. Therefore, our mission is the same. Check out this past article which explains what our mission is based on the Great Commission.
If our mission is the same, then taking care of cities is by definition part of all of our missions.
I once heard a pastor say, “I’m not interested in working together with other churches. I just want to be the largest mega-church in the city.”
It’s sad and wrong. I’ll leave it at that.
Not really caring for the poorPlease consider if your #church truly cares for the #poor and needy. Click To Tweet
These passages show us that if we do not care for the poor, then we deny our faith, the mission God gave us, and Christ Himself.
Please, ask yourself whether you are truly devoted to taking care of the poor. If someone approaches you and offers ways for your church to participate in caring for the poor in the city, is your answer something like this? –
- We don’t have the resources right now.
- Our church is focusing on other things right now.
- Our elders don’t agree that this is the right move.
- That is really great that you want to do this, but…
If so, please consider if your church truly cares for the poor and needy.
A New Way
The natural tendency is to hole up with our kind and stay away from dangerous things. At The Borough, we embrace risk.
When we open our minds and churches to new ideas for taking care of the cities, we open ourselves up to an amazing torrent of good that God will do through us.
Please, do not let these excuses get in the way of partnering with other brothers and sisters who are seeking the welfare of the city. Work side-by-side. As Hebrews 10 says, encourage each other on toward love and good deeds as we see the day approaching.