Unity … in Christ

A shared unity in Christ is the starting point for staff and leadership health and commitment.  Jesus is our common ground.  We may disagree on any number of things, but we must be able to agree that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord, and the head of His church.  Is this enough to resolve every conflict?  No, of course not … but it is always the correct starting point.

Make no mistake, the only “unity” that really matters is the unity we share in Christ. Unity for the sake of unity is incomplete, and often leads to unholy alliances. In fact, it’s not at all uncommon for people on church leadership and staff teams to be united for all the wrong reasons – a common dislike of a staff member or leader, a stance against the current worship style, a clamoring to go back to how things used to be, or opposition to a planning process and all that it entails.  The only form of unity that advances the cause of Christ is unity in Christ.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is a stunning pronouncement of the importance of unity in Christ. Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus to strengthen them in the face of growing opposition, both from within and outside the church. Paul immediately set a tone in the letter by using the phrase “In Christ,” or some variation thereof, no fewer than ten times in the space of a mere thirteen verses of Ephesians chapter 1:

“The faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:1)
“Every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Eph. 1:3)
“Chose us in him” (Eph. 1:4)
“Freely given in the One he loves” (Eph. 1:6)
In him we have redemption” (Eph. 1:7)
“Which he purposed in Christ” (Eph. 1:9)
In him we were also chosen” (Eph. 1:11)
“The first to hope in Christ” (Eph. 1:12)
“Included in Christ” (Eph. 1:13a)
“Marked in him with a seal” (Eph. 1:13b)

Paul wanted the Ephesian Christians to understand clearly that whatever differences existed among them were insignificant in comparison to the unity they shared in Jesus Christ.

As a pastor, as a leader, are you instilling this same understanding in your leadership team and staff?  Does your team function according to the truth that the One who unites us is more powerful than anything, or anyone, who might try to divide us?

The F.A.I.T.H. Filter

faith filter

The F.A.I.T.H. Filter is one of twelve key tools included in Faith-Based: A Biblical, Practical Guide to Strategic Planning in the Church, by Michael Gafa. The filter encapsulates five critical aspects that plans must pass through before finalizing. The filter helps ensure that our plans are:

Flexible … held loosely; able to change as the Holy Spirit leads us.
Aligned … with the Great Commission, and with our mission, vision and values.
Intertwined … synergized and cohesive so that all of our plans represent a plan.
Transformational … so that lives are changed by the grace and truth of Christ.
Holy … set apart to God; consecrated to God; fully surrendered to God.

Allow me to elaborate a bit on each of the five aspects:

Our plans need to be Flexible – held loosely. Why? Because we need to allow space for God to change our plans, and to accept that even if our plans are on the mark, God’s timing likely won’t match ours.

And our plans need to be Aligned – with Scripture, with the Great Commission, and with our mission, vision, and values.

Our plans need to be Intertwined – synergized and cohesive to the point where our plans become a plan – a single plan, one that is comprehensive and cohesive.

Our plans need to be Transformational – they need to help bring people to Christ, and grow people in Christ – in our church, community, and beyond.

Finally, our plans must be Holy – set apart to God.  Granted, unlike scripture our plans aren’t God-breathed, but they should be divinely inspired, prayed up, and fully surrendered to God.