On Sunday, I challenged our church family to protect the church. I read several statements from The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.
Warren begins, “It is your job to protect the unity of your church.” He notes …
Unity is the soul of fellowship. Destroy it, and you rip the heart out of Christ’s Body. It is the essence, the core, of how God intends for us to experience life together in his church. (161)
Unity in the Body of Christ matters. Warren contends …
Nothing on earth is more valuable to God than his church. He paid the highest price for it, and he wants it protected, especially from the devastating damage that is caused by division, conflict, and disharmony. If you are part of God’s family, it is your responsibility to protect the unity where you fellowship. (162)
Warren offers six pieces of practical advice …
- Focus on what we have in common, not our differences.
- Be realistic in your expectations.
- Choose to encourage rather than criticize.
- Refuse to listen to gossip.
- Practice God’s method for conflict resolution. (Matthew 18.15-17)
- Support your pastor and leaders.
On criticism, Warren suggests, “It is always easier to stand on the sidelines and take shots at those who are serving than it is to get involved and make a contribution” (164). He writes …
The Bible calls Satan “the accuser of our brothers.” It’s the Devil’s job to blame, complain, and criticize members of God’s family. Anytime we do the same, we’re being duped into doing Satan’s work for him. (165)
Warren defines gossip as “passing on information when you are neither part of the problem nor part of the solution.” He warns, “Listening to gossip is like accepting stolen property, and it make you just as guilty of the crime” (165).
Warren concludes the chapter with the challenge, “What are you doing personally to make your church family more warm and loving?” He states …
There are many people in your community who are looking for love and a place to belong. The truth is, everyone needs and wants to be loved, and when people find a church where members genuinely love and care for one another, you would have to lock the doors to keep them away. (168)
How strong would the church be if we all took our responsibility of protecting it seriously?