08 May, 2024 Attitudes that sustain unity

ATTITUDES without which unity WON’T be sustained

(…without which we can undermine our unity)

1.  Pride – causing God’s favour to withdraw

To quote Marcus Aurelius from the movie ‘The Gladiator’, “There was once a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish.”

  • Unity is exactly like this.
  • Human pride offends God.
  • With even a whisper of personal ambition it can sometimes vanish.
  • There can be ambition in a pastors’ group no different to in an individual congregation.
  • Leadership / facilitation in the unity space is therefore a most sacred trust.

2.  Speaking well of one another

The key challenge relates to denominational and theological differences – and we can all easily and unknowingly become guilty of words unwisely spoken.
  • Illustration – church structures: The Pentecostal might criticise the seemingly inflexible power structures of the traditional churches – while the traditional churches criticises the seeming concentration of power in one man or woman in the Pentecostal churches.
  • Illustration – spiritual gifts: The theological conservative might perceive those valuing outwardly expressed spiritual gifts as being deceived or overly emotional – while the reverse perception is of a congregation lacking life, joy and vitality.
  • Illustration – style: The person in the traditional church might looks at the Pentecostal and wonder why there is so much emotion and hype – while the reverse view perceives an absence of the Holy Spirit’s presence (while we all hopefully agree the Spirit’s primary work is in the refining of our character, the revealing of Word of God, the leading of our prayer life and the directing of our daily activities to serve God well).
  • Illustration – gospel approach: The church with the ‘evangelistic crusade’ is perceived to be too direct – while the one criticising is perceived as too quiet, as if too ashamed of the gospel to share it with those who have never heard.

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)

We must speak well of each other!

3.  A scepticism of the idea of functional unity

“Once bitten, twice shy.”
  • Sometimes hidden behind the absent attendance of pastor in a city pastors group is a deep-rooted scepticism of the idea that functional unity is even possible – because ‘they tried that’ and ‘it didn’t work’!

4.  An unbalanced identity in denomination

This has already been addressed.

Where mindsets are too strongly ‘married’ to a denomination, it’s easy to neglect of the wider work of God’s Church across then city so much so that we cannot even see it.

  • If one part of the body doesn’t play its part, other parts are affected. (1 Corinthians 12:12-31)

As stated above:
Denomination and Church do not have to be in conflict or tension.
The solution is in understanding the unique roles and
function of Church vs denomination.
We can then pursue health in both!

5.  An inadequate recognition of the need for Church work vs only having church work

This is difficult to write briefly. As a simple picture, our funding structures are anchored to local congregations and denominations – not the united Church.

We therefore employ maybe 3000 pastors and staff across a plausible 4000 churches – in comparison to what might exist to see Christ represented in the public square across our cities and nation as a whole.

To affirm the good: Many do already recognise the validity of (united) Church ministry leadership and function.

  • Consider, Cru /Tandem and TSCF who serve wider Church purposes in university campus’ in ways individual churches have been unable to sustain.
  • Consider Rhema Media’s work.
  • Consider NZCN / Shining Lights Trust / Wilberforce Foundation in networking across NZ churches, Church ministries (‘parachurch’) and city/town pastors’ groups.
  • …and many more ‘unity space’ initiates.

To name the pitfall:  If our ‘lens’ is ‘denomination’ and ‘congregation’ we might struggle to recognise and empower someone called to (united) Church work.

  • For a Biblical analogy – we’re unable to recognise the leadership of Gideon, Ehud, Jephthah, Deborah and Sampson. They don’t ‘fit the mold of what we are expecting’.
  • We therefore fail to support, encourage or help them – which undermines needed united endeavour.
  • United space work – which is primarily outwardly-focused – while weakly supported.
  • Local church work – which is primarily inwardly-focused – while spending the vast majority of available funds.
This is about a mindset – and is a very real dynamic, inhibiting what might otherwise be accomplished in our nation through our unity.


DAVE MANN. Dave is a networker and creative communicator with a vision to see an understanding of the Christian faith continuing and also being valued in the public square in Aotearoa-New Zealand. He has innovated numerous conversational resources for churches, and has coordinated various national nationwide multimedia Easter efforts purposed to open up conversations between church and non-church people about the Christian faith and its significance to our nation’s history and values. Dave is the Producer of the ‘Chronicles of Paki’ illustrated NZ history series created for educational purposes, and the author of various other books and booklets including “Because we care”, “That Leaders might last” and “The Elephant in the Room”. Married to Heather, they have four boys and reside in Tauranga, New Zealand.

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