Tag Archives: unity

The Principle of Perceptions

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:17-18

The Principle of Perceptions: I have responsibility for how others perceive me.

I consulted with a traditional, small town First Baptist Church who was in severe conflict.  There was a variety of issues, but the primary problem was broken relationships.  So we spent some time addressing those relationships.  One of the personalities involved was a young, dynamic high school teacher who had a fantastic presence with the teenagers.  He truly loved the Lord and brought teenagers to the Lord (and to the church) by the busloads.  Literally hundreds of them.  He was a bit eccentric, which is why the teenagers were so attracted to him.  He shaved his head, wore old blue jeans and a “Jesus Freak” tee-shirt to church, even on Sunday mornings.  His theology was solid, his teaching was wonderful, he loved his family (wife and three kids), and they loved him.  As I met with him, I remember thinking to myself, “I wish my own teenagers could meet this guy.”

But as wonderful as he was, the jeans and tee-shirt were a bit of a problem in the eyes of some of the older folks in the church.  Actually, as things got increasingly tense, it became a problem with quite a few of them.  But in his mind, that was their problem, not his.  He told me, “When I come to worship, God isn’t concerned with what’s on the outside, He’s concerned with my heart.”  True enough.  And you certainly couldn’t argue with the results of his ministry.  Obviously, God was using him powerfully in the lives of the youth.…

Worldwide Takeover: Are You In?

Tuesday Re-mix – Here is an early post from last year, updated and rerun for your consideration.

There are some things about the “culture” of the church today that, in my humble opinion, need changing. There are some things we do very well, but there are some disciplines we tend to ignore and some attitudes we display that do not honor Christ. Obviously, there are some individual churches who are getting it mostly right and to whom these opinions probably don’t apply (it’s difficult talking about “the church” in broad strokes since there is such extraordinary diversity among us), but looking across the landscape of the Christian church in the Western world, there are some glaring deficiencies. And these are not simple behavioral issues that can be changed easily. They are cultural–i.e., they are deeply rooted and ingrained in the very “DNA” of today’s church. The change that is needed, therefore, is likewise a pretty profound, invasive shift at a cultural level. I won’t take the space here to begin listing the symptoms of what is wrong (if you have been drawn to this blog, you probably already have some ideas about that). Rather, I will jump right to the solution…or at least a part of the solution.

revolutionMy good friend, Dr. Ann Farris taught me something important about change. If you want to change the results you are getting, you have to change your behavior (that’s not the part she taught me–everybody already knows this part). It’s that old definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. But often times, no matter how hard we try to change our behavior (be honest, how many of your new year’s resolutions have you already blown?) we do not. Paul talked about this is Romans …

The Value of Relationships

Tuesday Remix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and re-run.

I wish I had a dollar for every time a pastor or church leader has commented to me, “I’m all for unity, but at what cost?” It always makes me smile. I know what he or she means—that agreement with each other is a good thing, but not the most important thing. I can’t argue with that. But agreement and unity are not the same thing.

Unity is not about agreeing all the time, it is a state of the relationships among a group of people. Biblical unity is a right state of relationships among Christians. And this, I believe, is the highest priority in the church. I believe it is more important than any of the issues which divide us. I’ll explain below why I believe that.

relationshipsWhat is at stake in this discussion is the value of Christian relationships. For most of the conflicts I see in the church today, the real heart of the matter is the relationships among the players. How much do these parties really value their on-going relationship? How interested are they in healing the broken relationship and what are they willing to sacrifice in order to do so? If you have ever been involved in marriage counseling, even informally, you have seen this at play. People talk about wanting reconciliation, but when it comes to making that happen, they often are not willing to do the things it requires, because (the truth is) they don’t really value that relationship that much. They would rather be right than be married. Or they would rather be free, or be any of a number of other good things, than be married. Unfortunately, that happens with relationships in the church as well. Lofty