Tarnishing The Word ‘Unity’
Nobody sat me down and told me, “Make sure you have more kids or better events than the churches around us.” But man, I still felt the pressure.
Unity is defined as “a state of being united or joined as a whole.” This idea of wholeness can become blurred when it comes to ministry. Unless intentionally pursued, it is rare to see wholeness through an event or in a community of youth workers. What would it look like if creating wholeness was our intentional pursuit?
When I was first introduced into the youth ministry, I felt a lack of wholeness. Instead, I felt an inherent competition based on events and numbers. What is weird is that no one told me to be competitive. But I felt the pressure.
This tension took me as far from wholeness as I could be. Competition breeds superiority, superiority feeds pride, and pride insulates us from being encouraged by what God is doing through other ministries. Now, working for unity and longevity by creating communities of youth workers through NNYM, I have a whole new idea of the word.
The word unity is now about intentional relationships with people who are not tied down by competition. When youth workers join a conversation for God and students, real progress can be made.
Invite or Include
I have noticed that leaders attempt to achieve unity by creating an event and then extending an “invite” to other churches for these events. The problem lies in the difference between the words “invite” and “include.” Anyone can invite churches to an event, but real effort toward unity is shown when leaders include other churches in planning the event. Just understand, not every church in a community is going to rally around one event or project. If we are attempting to create wholeness, we need to include other leaders around the table as a project is being developed.
Find the Need
Jason Law from Unity my City in Tulsa, Okla. says, “Not everyone will unite around the same thing, but they will unite around something.” Leaders need to work to find the “THING” that our communities will work to rally around. This work and effort only comes from building relationships with people outside the walls of our buildings, organizations, and denominations. Through these collaborative relationships, a passion for the need will create momentum and wholeness among other ministries in our cities. That shared passion brings communities closer to Kingdom goals.
What could our communities look like if we really left our logos and egos at the door? I don’t know, but I’m working to find out! One senior pastor put it like this, “Unity, for just unity’s sake, will not attract people to come together. There has to be something more.” That “something” this senior leader is looking for is unconditional love. More than an event, more than an invitation, more than a purpose statement, unity is produced by the overflow of our unconditional love for one another. Maybe that’s why Paul highlights love in 1 Corinthians 13.
Let’s start being intentional about the way we connect with those in our community. Let’s leave behind the things that have kept us apart for decades. Let wholeness be our aim.
Because no matter how hard we try, we can not spell UNITY without U and I.
This post originally was shared on The National Network For Youth Ministries (www.youthworkers.net). For fantastic ideas, networking, and encouragement, check out their website to learn how youth workers are BETTER TOGETHER!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.