30 May, 2024 The unity GOAL we overlook (The article to end all articles)

The unity article to end all unity articles

Here is a bubble popping / very simple definition related pastors groups and unity.

  • I would love to hear any thoughts.

I pray many find this intriguing in its simplicity.

If the end-goal is recognised (and is correct) – logically we then work this backwards to consider the discipleship process toward achieving it amongst church leaders in each place and  nationally. This could be an intriguing thought.

With humour – to quote some movie lines – this article is…

  • One ring to rule them all (Lord of the Rings)
  • There can only be one (The Highlander)
  • None shall pass (Monty Python)


Story: Unity in our city of Tauranga is intriguing to me at the moment

I think many of us here in Tauranga do understand the importance of unity. Some still meet to pray weekly too. But we have no regular pastors gathering currently – other than a quarterly topical one with a speaker on some area of Christian leadership – and I think this is ok with God.

Regarding filling what might otherwise seem a clear gap – none of us have risen to take the lead. In considering why I haven’t done this, while current health would be a factor, the reason for me is that I don’t feel prompted by the Spirit or personal circumstances I would expect to see before doing this, despite a vision for it and willingness.

What is intriguing is that I would be one of a number of pastors who can ‘see’ the city, who believe in unity, and who likewise have not each felt prompted to do something. A number are capable of facilitating a group very well. Each will be ‘leaving this gap unfilled’ for their own reasons.

  • This is an interesting ‘case study’, because the question has to be asked whether or not we are outside of God’s plan or ideal by not having a functional central regular gathering point.


As noted in another article on ‘how we might measure unity’, I would maintain that the visible unity of a regular meeting is not the measure of unity.

  • Our ability to work together when needed is a better measure.
  • An environment within which people can innovate for the city, and quickly find support for a united endeavor would be another measure.
  • …And the support of any Spirit-initiated endeavour is NOT measured by it receiving support from every church too. Each thing instead only needs enough support to thrive for the city (or nation if it’s a national innovation). This might be 2 churches, 5, 10 or 20 – and the Holy Spirit is capable of choreographing this, bringing enough leaders / churches to support each thing!

So, the visible unity of a central group really isn’t very significant to this picture – even though it is valuable.

At this starting point – here are two challenging perspectives:

If the above is correct, a first caution would be that we do not make regular pastors’ group meetings an end in themselves – as if there existence were the goal or measure. Something else is actually the ‘key’ we should be aiming for – which the gathering of pastors is one possible conduit toward.

As a follow-on statement, functional unity doesn’t therefore even necessitate relationship. I’d suggest it DOES, however, need communication-lines. This is a significant thought to reflect on. While relationship amongst church leaders in a location is a good goal it therefore isn’t the primary or more important goal or factor. So, what is?

(To vocalise the side-point here, trust is more important than relationship – even though relationship is often the pathway toward trust. And trust can be chosen! It’s even possible to have a trusting culture. Trust is what is needed for united action – not relationship).

But there is something else.


Submission to the Holy Spirit is the true need, along with a discerning heart, and a Kingdom perspective!

These are the actual keys.

> There might be significant  value in recognising and defining this – because if we pursue anything and/or everything else WITHOUT SUCCESSFULLY FOSTERING THIS we WILL miss the mark!

To articulate some of the connected values and ideas:

  • The true leader of the pastors group / churches of each city is the Holy Spirit – not any human structure, as useful as that structure might be. I’m sure we are agreed on this.
  • So – to articulate the Biblical leadership paradigm of the united Church, when something needs doing, God’s Spirit works through individuals whom he calls to a given task.
  • …which means the pastors’ group convenor doesn’t LEAD unity.
  • That they ideally do do (if the above is a primary end-goal) is facilitate / disciple a CULTURE (or platform) that could become conducive to unity.
  • The test is what happens when God raises up an individual to initiate something necessitating some unity.
    • Can the wider body of Christ recognise and supporting someone raised up by God – whether their name be Gideon, Deborah, Sampson – or whatever it is?
    • …while – to remind of the boundary –  not everyone has to recognise or support any individual or initiative. (God may not call all to support or see every venture – and some individuals proposing things might actually be doing so from their own enthusiasm rather than God’s leading!)


Toward application: What if the discipleship of leaders’ hearts is therefore the key goal?

What if a culture that is conducive to unity is the goal.

If true, and if this goal is seen (and if this goal is God’s goal also) , ‘intentionally’ would then be a primary word deserving attention by those facilitating ‘unity groups’.

And what are hearts to be discipled in or toward? To articulate a possibility, how about  humble discerning hearts – with a Kingdom perspective. These two things are noted in view of key hindrances to unity – and key dynamics within a healthy ‘unity culture’.

If how we think is discipled in this way as leaders, we’d naturally have Kingdom vision and value. Then, with or without any unity meetings, the ENVIRONMENT would exist amongst us for any united endeavour purposed by God to be recognised, and the person initiating it to be supported – enabling the necessary united FUNCTION, in service to the wellbeing of the people in the city and nation.


To explain the nuances of ‘unity things’ in a long sentence…

(Warning : Some words are direct, for clarity and brevity).

While there are always be…

(1) personalities that are understandably difficult to engage with,

(2) young pastors understandably consumed in working out how to run a local church,

(3) some (unknowingly) selfish pastors who don’t actually care about everybody else in the city who can be damned as far as they are concerned (‘not their responsibility’) because they have been taught that there role and responsibility is only to grow their own local church with its ministries,

(4) pastors with fast growing churches understandably consumed trying to keep up with the ‘fires’,

(5) and large churches understandably capable of and busied with much, who are therefore without capacity or emotional capacity to pursue unity merely for unity’s sake… Etc.

…my experience in Tauranga is that – without the rest having regular meetings –  we are able to work together easily when necessary, with SUFFICIENT support coming for endeavors in the unity space (even if not with full rooms of pastors – which isn’t necessary if we are honest, yet which would feel good).

I.e. There is a sufficient group who genuinely have a united perspective of the Church for things to arise and thrive – and this is as true of many church members as of church leaders.


Conclusion: Might the discipleship of leaders thinking, perspectives and values be the needed #1 goal for unity facilitators?

If so, the application point would be as follows: 

It’s culture first; programme second!

We would programme with the end (goal) in mind.

We would therefore lead INTENTIONALLY, to disciple a mindset within local church leaders – and with the hope of (and plans to aid) this spreading wider to their congregational members. 

> Were a manual to be put together for the facilitation of a pastors’ group, might this be the actual priority – with various other things we do as ‘tools’ for that discipleship, just as Jesus taught his disciples, role modelled, walked with them and sent them on mission trips (the 12 and the 72)?

> If so, how might that affect facilitation roles you have in the unity space?


I’d be keen to hear any thoughts any have in response to this.


The local next question is, exactly what needs discipling / imparting? (aka, a ‘curriculum’ – as defined by our current unity culture in NZ, with a vision for what might need to change (to then enact a long-term intelligent and Spirit-aided plan to see it changed).


Any thoughts?

Does this change anything for anyone? I’d love to hear.


For other articles by Dave on the same topic of – CHURCH UNITY

2024 – The LID of our unity is in what we can SEE

2024 – To further unity there is a needed context

2024 – SLT Leadership statement – Nest areas we intend to innovate within

2024 – Attitudes that sustain unity

2024 – How is the strength of unity to be measured?

2024 – Application from the Bible Society’s new data

2023 – A unity reflection: What if we were more strategic in our PRAYER

2023 – Roy Crowne – A voice for unity – Unity finding its voice in the CITY

2023 – Fresh vision for local Church unity

2023 – Invercargill’s Community Service Day – a unity story

2023 – Family relationships – an under-utilised gateway

2023 – The election is over – so WHAT NOW? (A specific strategic proposal)

2023 – For a united Church – there are leaders we cannot see

2023 – “Mistaken” – An offensive comical parable? Why?

2023 – “Mistaken” – A comical parable about unity

2023 – Four characteristics of leaders who take city-wide unity from talk to action

2023 – The quiet before the storm (Perspectives that shape how we lead)

2023 – STORY: How Gisborne churches united to serve their flood-affected region

2023 – STORY: NZ churches can shine when it counts (Napier flood report)

2023 – To think differently in times of crisis – like during the floods (How to ‘let our light shine’)

2022 – One Church? FIVE factors that enable pastors’ groups to turn theory into practice

2022 – A SWOT Analysis of the NZ Church in relation to its outreach

2022 – Four national goals that can be easy ‘wins’ together

2022 – A vocabulary we can agree on (This one is a particularly important FOUNDATION if coherent national discussions on unity are to one day take place)

2022 – Principles for managing necessary agenda in pastors’ groups

2022 – Introducing ‘HeLP Project’ (for pastors’ groups) – the what and the why

2022 – Key pulpit themes in view of the global reset (Finding direction in changing times)

2020 – It’s time to take responsibility to educate our own children and youth again (On united direction and strategy – for city change)

2020 – Kingdom minded  – It’s more radical than many think

2020 – STORY – The Auckland delivery

2020 – STORY – Miracle delivery where pastors declined (raises an intriguing question about boundaries)

2020 – A need for new media platforms – not more voices (How do we address the increasingly left-leaning and also anti-faith bias of public media?)

2020 – A vision for national Church unity (What might REALISTICALLY be within our reach to achiEve – if we merely thought differently?)

2019 – ‘In One Spirit’ – The purpose of the book (Written at the time of the book launch and press release)

2019 ‘In One Spirit’ – full book FREE online

2019 – United we stand (A blog just prior to the release of the above book, ‘In One Spirit’)

2017 – Pastors’ groups – a home visitation idea (best suiting smaller towns)

2017 – The call to influence culture (It’s about the way we think)


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”, “The Elephant in the Room”, “In One Spirit” and “The Art of Storytelling – and of becoming an intriguing person”. Married to Heather, they have four boys and reside in Tauranga, New Zealand.

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