I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me “Good luck getting the churches to work together”. We’d be completely funded!! I’ve had pastors/ministry leaders say to me that they’ve spent a major part of their careers trying to get the churches to work together and they are done trying. They’ve tried events, breakfasts and gatherings without much traction. They are tired of the jealousy and the haters. It’s just easier to do my own thing. They’re right it is; but is it kingdom?
Before Jesus left this Earth, He gave us a mandate in Matt 28:19 “Go into all the world and make disciples…”. This was not a suggestion. Instead it was an order or action, but Jesus doesn’t stop there. He even tells us how. In John 17: 21 Jesus says “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one–as you are in me, Father, and I am in you.” Why? Jesus knew that we cannot do it alone and he also knew how we would be most attractive and effective to our broken world. He even gives us a clue as to why this is so important in the last sentence of that verse, …”And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” This verse tells us that the world will KNOW Jesus by our ability to be ONE. Not just by our weekend expressions. What He is mandating and praying over us, His Bride, is that we BE ONE every day. In Act 2 we see that the early church had the greatest momentum when they were one. Why do we think we don’t need to be one?
My husband and I have been married for 19 years this year and the key to any good marriage relationship is the constant on-going work of “being one”. This can be so exhausting at times and so amazingly life giving. When either one of us decides to stop trying and stop sacrificing, the entire beauty of being one becomes fractured or if let go long enough, broken. When either one of us remains in that broken place, we run the risk of permanent damage or divorce. When we don’t say sorry and forgive and when we don’t listen and serve we are saying I matter more than us. It’s not that we don’t have issues or conflict, it’s more that neither one of us is willing to walk away. We keep showing up every day saying how can I serve you or what do you need today? It’s cheering one another on and holding each other close. In essence we are saying, how can I truly be one with you again today?
Jesus refers to His Church as the Bride of Christ. The marriage relationship is reflected in His Church. It didn’t say the main line, non-denominational, multi-ethnic, southern, northern, rural or urban part of Christ. Those contexts absolutely matter but they are not our corporate identity as His Bride. There are so many expressions of His church. There are as many “types” as there are kinds of people. That’s a good thing! Jesus just says we are The Bride of Christ. We are to be in RELATIONSHIP with one another. Relationships are complex and at times hard but they are also very good. Everything we do or don’t do is based on a relationship with someone or something. They are the vehicles that brings about undeniable impact, for better or worse. Ministry leaders, you cannot say you are a kingdom builder and never build the kingdom with another ministry. I didn’t say do an event but build something with.
Here are some questions I ask myself when I get off track as a kingdom builder.
When in the last 30 days have you had breakfast with another pastor or ministry leader and heard where God is at work in their expression of The Bride?
How many local pastors can you call friend? (you call them for fun because that’s a friend)
(For Pastors) When was the last time you share the pulpit of another “type”of church that’s different from your “type”?
Where else besides your church, do you serve or give? (if as a pastor you just freaked out, you are not a kingdom builder)
Does your church constantly start new things or can they lay down their power and join in with existing things to help multiply the impact?
What would it look like for us to champion the kingdom, at a sacrificial level in our communities?
Let’s all pray Ephesian 2:10 over our communities and be surprised by where God is already at work with His Bride.