Sunday, July 31, 2016

3 Reasons People Are Not Involved in Your Church

Not everyone avoids serving the church for the same reason. |

Virtually every church faces the issue of members who are perpetually uninvolved. They are the spectators in the congregation. Many are faithful enough attendees but never move beyond that to be actively involved in the ministry of the church and mission of God. They go for the show, but not to serve.
Why is that? The immediate assumption by many pastors and leaders is that all of the uninvolved attendees are simply lazy. They know they should serve, but they just don't see the need or have the desire. This can be a dangerous attitude to have. Not everyone is inactive for the same reasons.
Virtually every church faces the issue of members who are perpetually uninvolved.
I believe there are three basic reasons people stay comfortably seated in their pews instead of serving. Once we know why, then we can go about helping them to move into service.

1. Some People Feel Useless

These individuals feel as if they do not have anything significant to offer in ministry. They may believe that they personally are not qualified to serve in a ministry capacity or they might think that only special "clergy" can truly be involved in God's work. What really needs to be corrected here is ignorance.
Those who feel useless simply may not know that they have been called and gifted by God for ministry. They need to learn what Peter wrote in his first epistle: "Based on the gift they received, everyone should use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God" (4:10 HCSB).
Those commonly referred to as "clergy" and "laity" are both called to ministry—the only question is the kind of ministry they do. My fear is that we have created a class system in the body of Christ comprised of the "called" and the "not so much called." Nothing could be further from the truth. All are called to the ministry—pastors have a different role, but it's a common call.
People are called to ministry at conversion, not at some subsequent event. It is the ordinary who are called to ministry, not the extraordinary. Those who feel useless have to be patiently taught that God has gifted them for service within the body. Once they grasp this as fact, they can become some of the best ministers in the congregation.
People are called to ministry at conversion, not at some subsequent event.

2. Some People Are Hurting

It is a simple fact that our church contains those who have been hurt and are still hurting. Some of them have even been hurt by church and church leaders. They left a bad situation at a previous church. They were serving in an unhealthy situation. Because of their past, they are hesitant to get involved again. Healing and help should be our goal for these members.
For those who have been severely wronged, the first priority must be to love them. Church leadership should be gracious and provide the help needed to bring that person into a place of healing. The time to serve will come, but they need to be served first.
For others, they may have experienced some of the frequent pains that come with service. Often times those who are hurting feel as if they are alone. They don't realize everyone who has served in church for any period of time has been hurt by someone or something. That's ministry. It's messy.
These people need encouragement to become involved again. We should come alongside them and motivate them to "love and good works," as Hebrews 10:24 commands us to do.

3. Some People Are Lazy

Let's be honest. Some people simply do not want to serve. They want others to do all the work, while they enjoy the benefits. People would rather be an object of the church's ministry than a partner in it. Too many church members maintain this me-first attitude.
Let's be honest. Some people simply do not want to serve.
This is part of human nature. It's easier to be a consumer than a colaborer. But that does not mean it is biblical. Churches must make it much more difficult for those who want to come and be lazy. They need to be challenged.
The thing about laziness is that it's contagious. Serving is hard enough. No one wants to work while dozens of other people sit around and watch. It causes those who are working to reconsider actually working. If it's not corrected, you go from a church with only a few working to a church with no one involved in the ministry.
All God's people are called to the ministry, all God's people are sent on mission. The only questions are "Where?" and "Among whom?"
As Charles Spurgeon said, "Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter."

Moving Everyone Toward Involvement

All God's people are called to the ministry, all God's people are sent on mission.
Every church has those who are not actively involved in the ministry of the local body, but not everyone is uninvolved for the same reason. It is up to the leadership of the church to determine who feels useless and needs encouragement, who is hurting and needs help, and who is lazy and needs correcting.
The church has been commissioned by Jesus to make disciples. The only way you can accomplish that task beyond the walls of your church is by having engaged, involved and active disciples within the walls.
This blog originally ran as an article in Outreach Magazine.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Preparing for Worship

A couple weeks ago, my wife and I went out to eat on a date. 
On a whim, we decided to go see a movie as well. Just like that. 
No preparation, we just decided and went. 

The lack of preparation had absolutely no bearing on how much we enjoyed the movie. After all, we just wanted to be entertained.

Unfortunately, we can often approach the Sunday meeting in a similar way.

How do you prepare to gather with your church family? Is your preparation limited to the frenetic collecting of your children, snacks, and diapers? Do you spend your time trying to convince yourself that going is better than sleeping in? Or maybe you don’t even think to prepare, because it’s just another routine that you’ve developed?

How we prepare for our Sunday gatherings is directly related to how much we benefit from our time together.

Two Common Mistakes

Here are two common errors we can make.

At times, we can prepare as spectators. We come mainly to watch, not participate. It’s like how I prepare to go see a sporting event. Besides making sure I’m not wearing the opposing teams colors,       I don’t prepare much. I anticipate it, but my general attitude in going to a sporting event is, “Entertain me! Move me! Show me something amazing!” Or if you’re a loyal fan of a lousy team like I am, “Make me suffer!”

We can have the same attitude as we come to our Sunday gatherings. We come with the expectation, spoken or assumed, that everyone else needs to make sure we have a good time. I need my kids to be taken care of. I need people to seek me out. I need the music to sound a certain way. I need the preacher to stop speaking on time so that I can get on with my life. 

As for Jesus? Hopefully he shows up by his Spirit so I can have a spiritual, emotional experience that carries me through my week.   We come as spectators, expecting to be served.

For some of us, we prepare for our Sunday gathering as workers. This is what I typically face as a vocational pastor. But it’s not limited to being a pastor. You might serve in your church as a children’s ministry worker, usher, setup team person, greeter, or hospitality person. We prepare much like we prepare for work (and for some, it really is work). We make a list of all the things we need to do. We make sure we leave on time. Our mind is filled with logistics and details. We remind ourselves how important our role is.

Preparing to meet with our church becomes an assessment of what we need to do rather than an excitement for how God might meet us. Maybe our gatherings even become a place where we derive our significance and self worth because of all the ways we serve, rather than a privileged opportunity to be with our family. Ever been there?   I have.

So how should we prepare?

Prepare to Receive

Every time we gather as a church, God will speak to us as his word is preached, sung, read, and studied. Hearing from God is a weighty and glorious thing. Just read Exodus 19–20. To see God for who he is, to be overwhelmed by his greatness and holiness, to experience his presence, to see his boundless love and mercy, to encounter what should make our hearts tremble. Through Jesus, we can boldly come and receive (Hebrews 10:19–22), but confidence does not equal casualness. Prepare by asking God to help you receive his revelation with gratefulness and humility.

Prepare to Respond

When God reveals himself to us, things happen. Experiencing God leads us to respond (Isaiah 6:8). Rather than being a spectator or a passive participant, our hearts are moved to worship because we have once again seen the beauty, greatness, holiness, mercy, and love of our God. We sing to him, confess our sins, receive his word preached, take communion, and give our finances, all in grateful response to seeing who God is and what he has done for us in Jesus.

Prepare for this Sunday by asking that God would help you rightly respond to him.

Prepare to Edify Others

Our worship doesn’t stop when the singing ends, or the preacher says, “Amen.” It continues as we greet, encourage, serve, pray for, exhort, and care for one another. God chooses to use people to edify his body (1 Corinthians 14:26). You and me. Isn’t that amazing?
Do you come to church expecting that God will use you? It might be as you serve practically, it might be as you take two minutes to pray for a friend, or greet a new person, or encourage a child. You have a part to play. 

This Sunday, prepare for gathering with your church family by asking God how he might use you to edify his church.

So how do you prepare to go to church? This Sunday, come ready to encounter God and respond to him in glad and grateful worship with your heart and life.

Come join us tomorrow morning at First Wesleyan Church in Gastonia for a time with God! It is always worth the drive and we begin at 11:00am. 

 Provided by: Jordan Kauflin serves Redeemer Church of Arlington through overseeing the music ministry and leading worship. He and his wife, Tali, have three sons and one daughter.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Your money is a statement of faith!

I was stewing over a financial concern recently, when a sales clerk recently handed me a dollar in change. I happened to notice the little inspiring message on the back: “In God We Trust.” It's exactly what I needed to remember!

Do you realize your money is a statement of faith? There it is in plain sight -- stamped on George Washington's backside --  this inspiring declaration --  in God we trust! 

Using money is like passing out little gospel pamphlets:

In God We Trust!
In God We Trust!
In God We Trust!
Your wallet’s full of ‘em!

Even atheists don't refuse them.

Buy a Big Mac at McDonald's or a Dilly Bar at Dairy Queen, and you’re telling the clerk to trust the Lord!

How ironic! We have such a hard time trusting God with our money, when all along our money is telling us that’s exactly what we should do!

It is far better to trust in God than in possessions. Jesus said you cannot serve both God and mammon. If we look to money for security, significance and survival, we will be sadly disappointed.  We get far too uptight over little pieces of green paper with pictures of dead presidents on them.

Money doesn't buy happiness.  The most precious things in life are free.

If we don’t have enough money, we’re afraid we won’t survive. That’s simply not true. We will survive somehow – regardless of our financial situation. I don’t know anybody who stopped surviving due to a lack of cash.

In the poorest places I’ve been in my life (Nicaragua, Egypt and Ethiopia ) people still figure out a way to survive. So, it proves to me that, in the big picture, financial troubles won't do us in.

We may need to cut back a little – but we’re going to survive just fine!   With some adjustments, we’ll make it!

My father had a sign hanging in his office: “The Lord Never Panics.” We should take our money at face value and trust in God! If we do so, we won’t cave in to panic.

Instead of tossing and turning in bed, give your problems to God. He will be up all night anyway!

Thanks to my friend Mark Wilson for this post. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Five Things I Pray I Will Not Do as a Senior Adult in the Church

I received my first AARP material in the mail six years ago.

I turned 61 years old two days ago. One of my sons says I am fossilized.

I am a senior adult.

Have I noticed any differences in my life at this age? Certainly. I move more slowly. My idea of a mini-marathon is running to the kitchen from the family room. I see things differently. I don’t know if I am wiser, but I certainly have different perspectives.

And I have to admit I view church life differently. In fact, I sometimes scare myself with my rigid attitude. I need to write these words quickly lest I become too comfortable or too complacent.

I have five specific prayers. They are for me. They are for my attitude about my church. They are reminders I will need to review constantly.

  1. I pray I will not feel entitled because I am a key financial supporter in the church. This attitude means I consider the money my money rather than God’s money. That means I am giving with a begrudging heart.
  2. I pray I will not say “I’ve done my time” in the church. Ministry through the local church is not doing your time, like serving a prison sentence. It is an outpouring of joy and thanksgiving to God. I love those churches where senior adults are the most represented among the nursery workers. I need to be among them.
  3. I pray I will not be more enthused about recreational trips than ministry and service. There is nothing wrong about me getting on a bus and going to Branson, Missouri, or Gatlinburg, Tennessee. But there is something wrong when that is my dominant involvement in ministry in the church.
  4. I pray I will not be more concerned about my preferences than serving others. I’ve already blown it on this one. I did not like the volume of the music in the service at my church a few weeks ago. I complained about it to my wife. And then I was reminded of all the young people in the church that Sunday worshipping and praising God during the music. I was more concerned about my preference than seeing others worship God.
  5. I pray I will not have a critical spirit. I attended a business meeting of a large church some time ago. The total attendance at the meeting represented fewer than five percent of the worship attendance. One of the men who recognized me approached me before the meeting, “We come together at these business meetings to keep the pastor straight,” he told me. In reality, they came together to criticize the pastor and staff. I pray I will not become a perpetual critic. I don’t want to grow old and cranky; I want to grow old and more sanctified.
Now that I am a senior adult in my own right, I need to make certain I am not a stumbling block or a hindrance to health and growth in my church. I pray my attitude will be like that of Caleb:

“Here I am today, 85 years old . . . Now give me the hill country the Lord promised me on that day . . . Perhaps the Lord will be with me and I will drive them out as the Lord promised” (Joshua 14:10-12, HCSB).

May the Lord grant me wisdom and service all the days of my life, including my senior years.

Let me hear from you. I bet I will.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Real Friends Show up in a Crisis

“A friend should treat a troubled person kindly, even if he abandons the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14 GW).
Real friends show up when you’re in a crisis.

 Real friends walk into your life when everybody else walks out. It is in a crisis that you learn pretty quickly the difference between acquaintances and friends. You have a lot of acquaintances. Who is the friend that is going to show up in the crisis in your life?
Did you know that the Bible says that even when people turn their back on God, they still deserve to have friends? Job 6:14 says, “A friend should treat a troubled person kindly, even if he abandons the fear of the Almighty” (GW).
The first thing everybody needs in a crisis is other people. You need a support group — some mature Christian brothers and sisters who will love you, who will care for you, who will comfort you, who will encourage you, who will support you, who will meet your needs, who will counsel you.
That’s why I never stop talking about the importance of being in a small group. Build a safety network in your life so when the rogue winds come you have genuine friends who will be there for you.
You say, “But wait a minute! Don’t you need to pray first in a crisis?” Well yeah, if you can. But the truth is, in a crisis we’re often in so much stress and shock that we don’t even know what to pray. It’s at that point that you need other people praying for you.
You need other people to say, “It’s OK. We’ll pray for you. We’ll believe for you. We’ll be there for you.”

This post was written by Rick Warren and first appeared on Pastor Rick's Daily Hope website.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Read this on a recent Facebook post and felt trustworthy for my blog:

IS THIS THE WORST IT'S EVER BEEN?              by Greg Fishel 

I must have had a very short memory for most of my adult life. For months now, I've been thinking that this country and this world is as divided as it's ever been. And who could blame me or anyone who agrees with me having witnessed the events in Orlando, Dallas, France, and now Turkey.

But as bad as things are, it's been bad before. I'm old enough to remember a young and energetic President gunned down in Dallas, and ironically he died at the same hospital that others in Dallas did just days ago.

I remember a peaceful and energetic black leader, gunned down at a motel in Memphis one night after delivering one of the greatest speeches in American history.

I remember a youthful Presidential candidate celebrating his victory in the California primary, gunned down minutes after speaking to supporters. I remember a political convention in Chicago where a power hungry mayor ordered that war protestors be beaten. I remember innocent students being shot and killed on the campus of Kent State University.

Oh, yes, the United States has been this divided before. But what about the world? Well, I'm not old enough to remember this, but I know of a time when millions of Jews were incinerated by a man who had his heart set on world domination. And were it not for incredibly brave men crashing the beaches of Normandy in June of 1944, that man may have just gotten his wish.

Oh, the world has been divided before. So how did we eliminate those divisions? To be honest, we never did. We shoved them to the side for a time, but they were still lurking in the background. And for others, it never really went away. So we in this world don't really solve problems, we postpone them, only to see them rear their ugly heads in another generation.

Oh we can pass laws, drop bombs, give emotional speeches, and even post on Facebook and Twitter, but until our collective hearts change, division will continue to rule this world. Whether you believe the story of Adam and Eve is a literal account, or one of symbolism, the message is clear. Inherent human nature is to fight. The first time God said "don't do that", our answer was "Who are you?". Maybe the reason countries on the other side of the world don't like us is that they don't see Christ in Christians. 

Oh we're usually the first to help everyone out when a natural disaster strikes, but do we really care about our own? I have money drafted each month to support various charities. Aren't I wonderful? Well ya know what? Its way easier to sign up for an automatic checking account draft then it is to reach out directly to those who drew the short straw in the game of life.

Too many of us who call ourselves Christians don't act very much like Jesus. And we say we seek to understand first, and to be understood second. Really? I don't think so. We don't listen, we talk, and the talk gets louder as we enjoy hearing ourselves proclaim our high moral standards. The truth is-we're Pharisees-we have invented our own religions, and have given them flowery and noble names, but we don't follow, not even close. 

Democrats and Republicans, Whites and Blacks, Christians and Muslims can all get along if we just listen to our respective hearts, the hearts that are driven by a greater Power, who doesn't like what He sees down here anymore than the rest of us do. Until our collective hearts are healed, don't look for any dramatic improvements anytime soon. I pray that this time we don't just postpone our divisions, but rather attack them head on, so that we can show the world that there still is a model for decency and morality in this country, and around the world.

Yes, it's been this bad before, and to be clear, Trump won't solve it, Hillary won't solve it, a Democratic congress won't solve it, and a Republican congress won't solve it. We, both as individuals, and as collective members of this great society must realize that only through a change of heart do we solve our problems. Let's look at each other and observe that we both have heads and arms and legs, and the ability to listen as well as talk. Yes, it's been this bad before.

Let's come together and think of ways to insure that this is the true low point on the graph, and that it's all uphill from here, Let's show the world that we just don't talk a good game, we actually live it!

Monday, July 25, 2016

A church Where I Belong

Yesterday at Gastonia First Wesleyan Church was awesome!  I had the opportunity to welcome six new families and several joined us for the carry in meal to welcome Sharron and me. As the meal was being served I enjoyed walking around the room and meeting new people and expressing my appreciation for them being in church.  When I finally walked down the food line and filled my plate with delicious food I was so thankful for those who served us to prepare the tables with an abundance of food.  I am confident everyone there enjoyed the time together.

I raised my hand in worship as we sang one of my favorite songs: Mighty to Save.  
Thought I would post it again:

I was so thankful for the group of children and adult sponsors who shared a song this morning in church to provide for all of us a taste of VBS.  It was great and I was so happy for the applause that encouraged the children.  

Many of them have left or will be leaving for the Kid's Camps this week.

I shared a clip this morning to help us dismiss the reasons people give for not coming to church.

Think about who you plan to invite this week and be sure to make that call, send that email or better yet - personally invite them to church and to sit with you this week.  Now is the time to seize the moment to come meet the NEW PASTOR.  Soon I will not be that new anymore....

Here is the clip I promised:

As I stood at the front following the dismissal and the prayer for the meal to follow, I watched people head for the food line with great anticipation. Several people came to front to speak to me. A man came with his outline and had missed a point on the screen.  I gave him the answer for the blank on his outline and he shared how much he appreciated the message and loved the "teaching" outlines I provide each week.  Then a lady shared with me that she had visited the church before, but had decided to go to another church. She then began to share, with tears in her eyes, that she did not feel like she belonged there.  No one spoke to her - she was just one of regular attenders. Then she smiled at me and said, "God spoke to me this morning and told me this is my new church home.  I want to be a part, I want to find a place to serve, I sense God is here and I want to make this my new church home."  I prayed with her and took her first time guest card and promised to call her this week!  I believe God has brought her to our church - the church where she belongs! 

God is at work at Gastonia First Wesleyan Church! 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A great day to be in church!

This morning at Gastonia First Wesleyan Church is going to be a great day to be in church!

Here are some of the announcements we will highlight during our time together:

 It doesn't matter who you are, what you believe, or what you've done, ”there's a place for you in the local church. Because this thing called church? It's not a building. It's a movement of people following a loving God and serving each other. Come see the spot carved out just for you. Join us as we discover A Place for Everyone.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Preparing for our 2nd Sunday at Gastonia First Wesleyan!

Tomorrow is going to be an awesome day at Gastonia First Wesleyan Church for my second Sunday as Lead Pastor.

I was thrilled last week with the outpouring of love and support by family and friends who sacrificed to join us last Sunday to encourage me on my first Sunday.

 In addition to these special people in my life I was so happy to see two new families from the local area who came to check us out!  My interaction with them this week was encouraging and I hope to see them return tomorrow to church.

This has been a BIG week with Vacation Bible School each night.  Each night we took the 2 hour drive to Gastonia during rush hour traffic for VBS. Kudos to Pastor Kelsey for her leadership and the phenomenal response of workers to provide a family supper each evening of this event. It was a great week as we welcomed many new families walking through the front door of our church.

Tomorrow is National Parents Day and we plan to seize the moment to welcome these parents to our church!

This coming week we continue in the transition. The projects for this coming week are to complete the work on my desk and begin the moving process to set up the office. Another major project is to begin the process to interviewing for the Office Manager position at the church.  We are developing the job description for the position and my goal is to have a recommendation for the church board within the next 14 days.

I appreciate those who have volunteered to help out and we will need help on a short term basis until an Office Manager begins their ministry with us.

Tomorrow I continue in the Teaching Series - A Church for Everyone with a foundational message on A Church for YOU. I am trusting the Lord for an anointing of the Holy Spirit upon the words God has given to me to share.

Also tomorrow, the church is planning a welcome for Sharron and I including a carry in meal. I look forward to the time of fellowship and interaction with more people from our church family.

God is moving in our midst. I am excited about the days ahead.  Sharron and I are longing to be in our new home in Gastonia.  The days of commuting are taking their toll on us. We love being with our family but it is time for us to settle a house into a home and establish a regular routine of office hours and ministry where God has led us!

Thank you for your continuing prayers.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Funny: Get ready to laugh.....

Tim's marriage tip of the day + a look at the differences in the way men and women text. Brand new from Tim's concert DVD "That's the Worst", available now at

Did you really enjoy that?

Thursday, July 21, 2016


By Thom Rainer

“I don’t want you take this personally, pastor, but we are leaving the church.”

Yeah. Right.

The church member might as well have stabbed the pastor with a knife while noting it was not personal.

One of the most painful and personal aspects of a pastor’s ministry is the departure of church members. Of course, I am referring to church members who stay in the community, not those who move out of town.

Those who choose to leave a church, no matter the reason, need to understand that your pastor will likely be hurt. Sometimes deeply hurt. 

Instead of rationalizing all the reasons why a pastor should not be hurt, allow me to let you see inside the mind and heart of a pastor.

 Here are five reasons why many pastors are hurt so deeply when members leave the church.

1.   It feels like personal rejection. One pastor articulated this pain to me well: “What did I do to cause them to leave? They were some of my biggest supporters. What don’t they like about me anymore?”

2.   Relationships have developed. Most pastors have developed a deep love for their church members. They care for them. They defend them. They are there for them. The members’ departures are often abrupt, leaving the pastor with a type of grief and questioning.

3.   There has been much time invested. “I discipled him, and my wife discipled his wife,” the pastor told me. “We invested so much in that family. It feels like we have been betrayed.”

4.   There is concern for the overall morale of the church. Other church members are often hurt when a fellow church member departs. The pastor is thus hurting because of the departure, and because of a concern for the morale of the remaining church members.

5.   There is a fear others will follow. We often say that relationships are the best way to get people in the church. Unfortunately, relationships are often the most common reason people will leave a church. The pastor thus is hurt and concerned that other members will follow the departing members.

This issue is largely an unspoken issue among pastors to one another, and among pastors to church members. The departure of a church member is no small thing to a pastor. It is personal, painful, and can even lead to depression.

Let me hear from you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Freedom for All!

On this blog, I try not to be too political.  The goal of this blog is TRUSTWORTHY  Statements and I try to give Glory to God, provide encouraging truths for the Church, bring a little laughter and share what God is doing in and through my life. 

Today, I have decided to make a political statement.  For the first time I am declaring my political affiliation.  I am a member of the Republican Party.  This decision came a number of years ago and I lean toward a Conservative slant in my political thinking. 

I think it incumbent upon every American to vote their conscience in the election process which men and women have given their life for in the preservation of freedom. 

An influence to become Republican came when I lived in Michigan.

Freedom for All — On July 6,1854 a political party was formed in Jackson, MI for one reason and one reason only: to end slavery.

Now 162 years later, there is still work to do!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

7 Thoughts on Creating Unity in a Church for a New Pastor

7 Thoughts on Creating Unity in a Church for a New Pastor

“Here are seven thoughts on creating unity in a church.”

I once consulted with a church struggling to move forward. The pastor had been there a couple of years, had a great vision and was supported by most everyone, there were adequate resources, the community needed a healthy church (as all do), but they never could get any traction.

In working with the church, I quickly assessed they had a unity problem. The church had two dominant factions—mostly split over a denominational issue. I felt like a genius consultant when I uncovered the root problem, but the truth is I only discovered what they already knew—yet never admitted.

The challenge wasn’t discovering the problem, however, it was in finding solutions. The church needed to come together if there was any hope to move forward and realize all the opportunities God was sending their way.

It should be noted—this church was united around the Gospel. They wanted to see people come to know Christ. They were divided by lesser issues. If a church can’t rally around making disciples of Jesus Christ—our core purpose—it will be near impossible to unite on anything else.

So how do you create unity in a church?

Here are seven thoughts on creating unity in a church:

Avoid the core DNA when making changes

There are some things which are not worth changing—especially until unity returns. It makes no sense to create further disunity in an area where the church is already unified. For example, if the church is overwhelmingly supportive of Sunday school, but you are a proponent of small groups, don’t try to make the change now (if ever) until unity is achieved. (If the core DNA is divisiveness, harder decisions regarding the vitality and future of the church should be made.)

Find common ground

What do people agree upon? As noted previously, this should be the Gospel, but what about its methodology is commonly embraced? Again, maybe it’s Sunday school, but perhaps it’s reaching the community’s lower income families. It could be a ministry of adoption or homelessness. There are probably numerous ministries or interests within the church about which everyone is passionate. Find some and pour energy into them. 

The more of these you can identify and rally people around, the more unified the church will become. The key is you must work toward a common mission if there is any hope of bringing unity.

Plan group activities

This can be an ice cream social or a ministry opportunity to one of the common issues, but it should be something which will involve people from both sides of the divide. It would be best if you could get someone from each faction to the planning table for these events. Most likely there are some who, though they have chosen a “side” to support, are mature enough they can work with someone of a different opinion to plan a function.

Celebrate success

There is something about celebrating which brings people together. Find small wins and celebrate them. Celebrate the things people can agree upon. Often this will be the history of the church or the heart the church has for missions or ministry.

Challenge the few objectors

There are usually a few people who are naturally divisive. This number is usually smaller than it appears, but these people are critical of everything and usually bring down the morale of others and the church. You may have to pull them aside, ask them to cooperate, and if they will not, work to remove them from power. 

(This could obviously be the subject of another blog post, but a necessary part of creating unity.) The unity and vision of the church is more important than appeasing those whose only mission is to disrupt.

Embrace the influencers

Just as there are a few who are negative, there are usually a few who are positive about unity and who have influence over others. I believe in the “each one reach one” practice. Spend time with these influencers, help them understand the importance of unity, then encourage and release them to help shape an atmosphere and culture of unity, one person at a time. Keep these natural influencers and encouragers close and informed and empower them to help create unity.

Communicate effectively

Communication is always important, but especially during times of disunity. Information must flow freely and often. When people don’t have information, they assume you are keeping it from them intentionally. Keep people informed and they feel more like they are part of the team and the vision.

Obviously every situation is unique. Don’t be ashamed to seek outside help. Creating unity takes time, prayer and hard work. It often involves repentance for things said and done which caused the disunity. Keep in mind the process involves relationships, so it can be messy. Unity will likely involve people granting forgiveness and releasing the right to have things their way. 

Depending on the severity of the division in the church, these issues should certainly be shaping your teaching during this time. It may be subtle or more direct, but certainly deliberate.

Finally, for an illustration purpose, you might treat the process as you would if you were counseling a couple, only on a larger scale, of course. Identifying the underlying problems and offering small, steady steps to improving the relationships before you address the issues of division will help create unity.  

Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.