Jesus once told the Pharisees that “every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matt. 12.25). I have seen more churches and ministries fail due to disunity more than anything else. For every venture to extend the kingdom of God on earth – a new church, a new evangelistic crusade, a new ministry, a new media to share the Word – there has to be unity. That unity should be this: we all want the same goal, and we will work together, loving each other, following one commander, walking in step.
Any army that is not in unity will never win a battle. Every church where the assistant pastor is trying to get his agenda sneaked in, and the congregation are pulling in ten different ways will never work successfully. The unity of the team and the loyalty of the church are essential for us to win battles.
One of the strongest armies in the world in terms of raw force was the Wehrmacht, but thank God they did not understand unity, and that helped the Allies win WWII. Jesus knows about unity too and prayed for it – “I pray for everyone who shall believe on me through their word (that’s you and me) that they all may be one as you, the Father are in me, and I am in you, that they may be one in us” (John 17.20). Jesus prayed for unity – so it must be important.
Every church needs to be in unity, the battle is too hard out there, the opposition to our faith, our hopes, our dreams is too big for us to have a church with infighting in it. You need unity because we are just one body – and our hearts should be as inseperable as one body. People do not act like they believe the church is a body, they leave offended, they leave upset, they walk off in the middle of something – with no revelation they are tearing a body apart. Separation from a local church is ripping a part of a body off – it is something that should never ever be done lightly. The casualness with which some people change churches is beyond me.
How easy would it be for you to walk out your church? As easy as someone removing your kidney? I am not saying it couldn’t be done, just that it should be done very very slowly, carefully, with a lot of planning. It is a difficult and complicated process. We have had pastors leave by email, elders just disappear and stop coming – and it has impacted the entire body of Christ. And heaven knows how it has affected and injured their souls. We must stay connected! We must develop connections with the essential people that God has given us – the kindred spirits we need to fulfil our ministry – and to enjoy our life. That is unity.
We all know Hitler started the Second World War, but if you look at the disunity in his army it was huge. His own people tried to assassinate him 42 times. I think they might be a record! That meant Hitler needed thousands of soldiers just to protect him, while Winston only had 2 bodyguards. Think about the wasted resources dealing with the disunity. The most famous plot against Hitler was in 1944, where they got a bomb and set it off. Hitler’s field marshal following the unsuccessful attempt committed suicide. The disunity impacted the armies ability to fight. Now when it is Nazis, we are glad they only managed to war for six years, but when we realize most new church plants do not last more than five years, that is a tragedy. Do you want to last six years or sixty years? Then learn to build unity into your church!
I don’t really want to teach on unity, just provoke you to believe for it and seek it and go and learn it, but I will give you two keys:
- If you want faithful people in your church, you have to be faithful to the people in the church. Unity starts at the head, with you being faithful to the church. Pastors suddenly feel called to the US of A, when they realize how much more money there is in the ministry there, and when the people think their pastor has itchy feet, it affects the whole body. You commit to your people, let them know you are here until death do you part or until Gabriel himself turns up with new orders, and that seed of unity will reap a harvest. In some denominational churches, people who have been in the church even just ten years have had 6 or 7 pastors, they don’t need to be told be faithful, they need to know that you are faithful to them.
- Be like Paul told the Philippians in 2.4, do not just look to your own interests, but the interests of others. This also starts with the head, don’t be like Saul and keep those marching for you from the honey. Learn to share the honey, learn to promote those working for you!