Thursday, September 29, 2011

Unity, Unanimity, and Uniformity

Sunday night I preached from Ephesians chapter 4 on the subject What Does a Healthy Church Look Like? We saw that there are four essentials to a healthy church:

•ministry, and

I talked about the difference between unity, uniformity, and unanimity.

Uniformity is when everyone looks alike.

Unanimity is when everyone agrees and shares the same opinions and convictions.

Unity, however, is a blessing that God gives internally when believers are walking in grace, truth, and love.

As The Steering Team met Monday night, we prayed for God to build us a church marked by much unity of the Lord. When Jesus prayed for His disciples and His church in John 17, He prayed again and again for the Lord to grant them unity.

Don Wilton, pastor of First Baptist Spartanburg, has shared for years the three critical issues facing every church: the issue of absolute truth, the issues of personal convictions, and the issue of personal preferences. Elsewhere, I wrote about this subject . . . .

A congregation is wise to heed the advice of Don Wilton in what he calls the three most critical issues at the heart of the church. First is the issue of absolute truth, the most critical issue in the church today: “Absolutes are the governing principles of Christian conduct. . . . Without it the church is in deep trouble because it is left to the opinions of man, and that is a dangerous place to be!”[1] Churches must decide to be governed by the absolute truths in the Bible. Behavior, theology, ministries, programs, and church governance must be submitted to the authority of the Word of God. The second critical issue facing the church is that of personal conviction. These convictions are needed and must find their root in absolute truth. However personal conviction must never take the place of absolute truth. Wilton writes, “Many congregations are smitten with strong personalities who have strong convictions about a great number of issues and things that are important, but if they are not absolute according to the Word of God, they cannot become the foundation upon which the believer stands.”[2] Substituting personal convictions for absolute truths often occurs in spiritual abuse. The third issue of critical importance facing the church is that of person preference. Some churches are built on personal preference, leading to weak theology, poor discipleship, and layers of dysfunction.[3] In dysfunctional religious systems marked by cultic and spiritual abuse, these groups often confuse the place of absolute truth, personal conviction, and personal preference. The wise congregation and leader will agree to stand together on absolute truth and not impose their personal convictions and personal preferences on other people.

A while back, I posted my notes from a sermon I preached on this subject, Preferences, Convictions, and Absolutes.

May we at The Spring stand firm on absolute truth together to bulid a strong and healthy church!

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