Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Pick a Church Any Church?
Here in Collinsville we just finished an interesting program started by the Collinsville Area Ministerial Alliance. It was called "Pick a Church, Any Church." It was a big marketing campaign designed to get people to church for Easter. Seventeen congregations (GLSC included) kicked in $$$ to buy signs, print fliers, pay for ads, billboards, an automated call from Mayor John Miller, and an automated call from Congressman John Shimkus. Some of our members wondered about this program. "Pick a Church, Any Church?" That didn't sound like GSLC. They thought it should be "Pick a Church, My Church!"
I told them that the way I looked at it these churches weren't unified, but at least anyone who attended one of them for Easter could discover something good about Jesus. This might be a first step toward salvation, and it was better than sitting at home and doing nothing for Easter. I was trying to put on the best construction. Sometimes non-participation in something like this can send a wrong signal. It drew a lot of interest... Articles in the Post Dispatch, national ministry magazines, etc. I'm usually attend most CAMA meetings. I like my brother pastors and feel liked by them. But I am always the "fly in the ointment" when it comes to unity. I won't participate in the unity services on Thanksgiving and Good Friday. Most think as long as you believe Jesus is Lord, then everything is okay. Well, as it turns out the brothers aren't so unified as we might think. When each church made phone calls (we tried to call every home in Collinsville with volunteers), one church decided to add something at the end of the generic script... If you don't have church home, come to our church (with specific info). The script said they were to visit the website and take a look at the 17 churches and choose. So let's all just be honest here... Deep down we all want people to come to our church!
What about disunity in the church? What should we do about it?
First, we have to remember that since faith itself is a gift of God (Ephesians 2.8-10), then unity in the faith must also be a gift of God!
Second, if Jesus was concerned about unity, that means He saw the problems of disunity among the disciples, and He foresaw the problems of unity in the church... Almost every letter the Apostle Paul wrote dealt with disunity in the faith. (Galatians - Huge disunity over Judaizing; Corinthians - Total disunity!; Ephesians-Colossians - Incipient Gnosticism (philosophy of the world); Thessalonians - End Times; Romans - Jew/Gentile Issues; Timothy-Titus-Philemon - Need for faithful workers to carry on with a church that will always default toward disunity! Philippians might be the only exception, but it does deal with individuals who needed unifying!)
Third, there are two types of disunity... The first is doctrinal. Usually the first half of Paul's letter is a big effort to maintain doctrinal unity. The second half is a focus on living out that doctrine. Look at Ephesians... It is almost exactly half doctrine (chapters 1-3) and half practical application (chapters 4-6). So the second half has to do with our personal disunity of not living the faith consistently.
Disunity is a fact as sure as sin is a fact. It's going to happen. The only question will be whether we will recognize and deal with it!
The question isn't "Is there disunity?" The question is always "What should we be doing about the disunity?" The answer is the same as in the New Testament. Meet, study the Scriptures, discuss/debate, and pray... See Acts 15 and the Council at Jerusalem! That is the great effort that the Lutheran church began with the publishing of the Augsburg Confession and later the Book of Concord. Here's what we believe. Let's work together for the truth of God's word... Look at the introductions to both, and you'll see it's all about continuing the age-old work of maintaining the "unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph 4.3).