Five Intentional Ways to Promote Unity and Community at Grace Life Church
As we continue looking at the Biblical description of a healthy church, there’s no better example to turn to than the early church. The premier passage to life in the early church is seen in Acts 2:42-47, the text of Scripture we looked at this last Sunday.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42–47)
How the early church lived in Christian unity within Christian community should be important to us. While the modern culture we live in is vastly different than the ancient culture they lived in, the importance of Christian unity within Christian community remains the same.
I want to give you five intentional ways you can promote unity and Christian community within our church. (Note: there are obviously more than five ways, these five are more applicable to our context.)
Agree to disagree on matters of second and third-order theological differences.
The early church devoted themselves to the Apostles’ Teaching or the teaching of the character and work of a Triune God.
We all have differing opinions and beliefs and those differing opinions and beliefs are often the source of conflict in our relationships. Within a church family, it is important to understand what is my opinion or personal belief and what is a matter of Theological importance. There are theological matters that we believe must be held for someone to be a Christian. As Dr. Al Mohler states,
“First-level theological issues would include those doctrines most central and essential to the Christian faith. Included among these most crucial doctrines would be doctrines such as the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith alone, and the authority of Scripture. These first-order doctrines represent the most fundamental truths of the Christian faith, and a denial of these doctrines represents nothing less than an eventual denial of Christianity itself. First-order issues determine Christian identity and integrity. Second-order issues determine ecclesiology. Third-order issues are doctrines over which Christians may disagree and remain in close fellowship, even within local congregations.”
We agree that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (first-order example) and we believe that baptism is the immersion of a new believer (second-order example), but the enemy will use the difference in those third-order matters (end times timeline, what day Jesus died, etc) to divide even the most doctrinally sound of churches. In those times of good nature discussion on third-order matters where a conclusion is not reached, agree to disagree with your brother or sister.
It should also be stated that beliefs on matters outside of the teachings of the Bible should not be the cause of disunity within the church.
Join a LifeGroup
We see the early church gathering together in homes to enjoy one another’s company and to grow in their faith. This is the goal of our LifeGroups. We want to gather throughout the week in homes (and the church building) for mutual encouragement and to study Scripture together.
Our Sunday morning gatherings serve an important purpose in our lives, but there is not enough time to build meaningful relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ. LifeGroups provide this opportunity.
This semester of LifeGroups begins the week of September 11th. To join a group, click here.
Invite someone to do something with you.
As you go about life throughout the week, ask yourself this question: “Is what I plan to do something I can do with someone in the church”?
Are you planning on going to the beach? Invite someone from church. Going to a movie? Invite someone from church. Taking your kids – or dog – to the park? You got it. Invite someone from church to go with you.
Get together for a meal.
The early church appeared to enjoy food in the presence of good company. Despite the change in cultures, we still do the same. We have to eat, so be intentional about inviting someone over for dinner or going out for a meal. You don’t have to pay for their meal, though you could. Just a simple invite to go eat some Chick-fil-a or enjoy a cup of coffee fosters Christian community.
Watch out for brothers and sisters by themselves.
I want to encourage us as we approach our Sunday morning gatherings. I want us to look for other people. Look for someone you don’t know and sit with them. Look for someone by themselves and sit with them.
Let’s be more about the people of the church than the preferences we love. This is what fosters unity in the local church and by God’s grace, we will continue to gather and connect with one another, knowing it is Jesus alone who brings us together.
By His Grace,