To finish off our time together for the month, I am going to explore 3 key ingredients that I believe have to be in the mix if we are going to invest in unity. Now as we have said before, Unity represents the preferred future of people coming together across denominational lines, political lines, and socio-economic lines, to do what is best for our community.
The fist ingredient is trust! We have to believe that other people who think and do things different than us care just as much about our community. We have to be willing to listen to other people, hear their heart and build a bridge of common purpose. We have to build shared experiences and good memories of what happened when we worked together and no one took advantage of anyone else, people were kind, and refused to be selfish. Which means when we work together, we can’t blow it with bad attitudes, selfish motives, or hidden agendas.
The second ingredient is clear vision and leadership. I call this roles and goals. When we know where we are headed, we have a road to run on. Yogi Berra said “If you don’t know where you are going, you will never get there.” We have to identify and clearly define what our unity will produce and how that will benefit everyone involved.
When more than 10 local churches came together to put on Hope Over Heroin, we set a clear goal of bringing awareness to the addiction epidemic in our community, we set a clear goal to connect every organization and entity that could play a part in addressing these issues.
We also wanted our community to know that real hope, true hope can only be found in Jesus Christ and the church is not here to point fingers but to truly serve and help those in need. John Maxwell says “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”
If we are not able to identify who is leading, why they are qualified to lead, and how their role will create stability and forward motion, then we will always struggle to see progress in unity or any great venture.
Lastly, real unity requires sacrifice. Not just your everyday ordinary, give up your Starbucks so you can support your local charity kind of sacrifice. I am talking about a sacrifice that represents real long-term commitment. To be a primary leader and supporter of Hope over Heroin last fall, our church made this outreach our main priority. We rearranged our calendar.
We cancelled our annual Harvest Party because it was too close on the calendar and would require time, energy and resources that were needed to be effective in our unified efforts. We gave financially in a sacrificial way to make this huge community wide outreach possible. We mobilized our volunteer armies to serve and help make the event happen. We took time in our services to promote the event, give people an opportunity to be involved and give of their time and resources.
There was an upfront sacrifice, but there was also a backend sacrifice. Some who were heavily involved in leading the charge sacrificed time with family, spent long hours planning and preparing, and were taxed emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
When everyone else went home, many of these warriors made follow up calls, built relationships to help and serve families in need, and continued to meet and plan for how we create a rehab center that can combine the spiritual, emotional, and medical solutions so that families can become free of the addictions that torment them and their futures.
Real unity requires real sacrifice, but the payoff is changed lives and a community that is truly better together!
Shane Rhodehamel has been the lead pastor of Faith Family Church since 2006. He has been married to his wife Amie for 17 years and they have three kids who are involved in Wilmington Middle School. You can contact him at [email protected]