Paul said to the church in the city of Ephesus that there is only One Body. He said nothing of multiple unrelated congregations in the city. John Stott the well known British theologian commented on this passage in Ephesians 4, “to say there are many churches is to say that there are many gods.” A huge contradiction!
Like all biblical truth, the unity of the church in a city is a revelation of Jesus through His word. Lord, “Open our eyes to see the beauty of the Body of Christ in our city.”
Then we can add a prayer, “Father give us the heart of wisdom and love to play our part in the Body being healed and unified.”
The practical outworking of unity is experienced by constantly coming to the foot of the cross together as the Fathers family in the city. It must begin with the leaders of the church.
The church in the city stands in need of a deeper sense of the reconciling work of the cross. Col 1:20. How reconciled are we as leaders in our respective cities? How deep is the love and trust between us? The humility of the cross calls us to recognise when we need to repent and ask forgiveness of one another. The ministry of reconciliation is our greatest and first ministry. 2 Cor 5:17-21.
The greatest hindrance to unity is selfishness. That is to say we put ourselves, our ministries, our churches, our programs etc., before the importance of giving time and energy to the unity of the Body. The work of the cross is a constant denial of self and selfishness. Luke 9:23.
A heart of servanthood builds unity because like Jesus it “washes feet,” put others first, sees what has to be done and does it without complaint, joyfully sacrifices, rejoices in others success, and stands with others in their pain even if it is self inflicted. A servant takes the lowly road and ensures others are encouraged, protected and blessed as a matter of course. Imagine if the leaders of the church of the city had this heart.
The church of the city is build relationally. Leaders are genuine mates together. The older leaders are seen as the spiritual fathers and mother’s and the younger leaders joy in being the spiritual sons and daughters. But as leaders they are peers and like any good team support and release each other in their respective gifting.
The primary responsibility of the pastoral gift, after the preaching of the word, is to equip the people of God in their gifts and passions to enable them to function effectively in the “market place” of the city. We must release and encourage our people in their vocations and be careful about tying they down in endless Church programs, events and meetings.
As the above comments become reality in a city there is a foundation for the developing a strategy and releasing mission into the city.
Finally the church of the city finds great joy in worship and prayer together.
Our unity is our greatest witness to the watching world of our city and therefore the greatest act of evangelism to those needing to know and to follow Jesus. (John 17:20-23.)
CEO of One Heart Australia