Monday, July 31, 2006

"Unity among the churches"

That certainly sounds like a right, proper and good goal. But hearing it phrased that way really made me ponder.

I've been praying about and desiring to pursue "the unity of the Body of Christ." That is something quite different from "unity among the churches." I am envisioning a unity that transcends our local congregational affiliations. See, I don't really care to see a unification effort that keeps tabs on which churches and which denominations are represented and which ones are not. I want to see a unity among individual believers that goes beyond our church walls and definitions. I would like to see us come together without even thinking about who goes to which church!

This is not to say that a unity effort would, should or even could supersede, replace or take precedence over local congregations. I am not advocating an overthrow or disposal of local denominational representation. I think there will probably always be various reasons for "local churches" to exist - e.g., doctrine, culture, personality, "liturgical preferences," etc etc etc.

However, I will also hasten to state unequivocally that I believe IDEALLY the Body of Christ in any given location ought to be aware of who else in their local area are followers of Jesus. I believe strongly that there ought to be frequent PUBLIC DISPLAYS of UNITY among a local area's followers of Jesus.

Jesus said, "By this shall the whole world know that you are my disciples; if you have love one for another." (John 13:35) He was not just talking about having love for (and showing love to) our own preferred set of believers.

The unity of the Body of Christ is paramount. The most profound effect on our communities will come when the world can see that we love each other. Right now most communities see multiple small groups of exclusive practitioners of religion ("churchgoers") meeting for a few minutes (OK, an hour or two, but in the context of a whole week of living, it may as well be just a few minutes) once or maybe twice a week.

Wow. There is just so much to say, to think about, to pray about, to act upon regarding the subject of the unity of the Body of Christ.

Let me repeat the key verse upon which this blog is based, Ephesians 4:13:

"...until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

The fullness of Christ is what I long for. How 'bout you?

Church visit # 1 took place on 30 July 2006.

For lack of a better term, at least for the time being, I am going to call what we are doing on Sunday mornings "church visits." It is an accurate enough term, after all. We are visiting churches. I guess I wish I could think of some other, more exciting term for it... like, oh, I don't know... "congregational observation episode" or "local Christian gathering assessment" or "diagnostic body life immersion." See what I mean? "Church visit" sounds simple and non-threatening; sweetly unpretentious.

So, yesterday we had our first foray into this new endeavour. It was a good visit. A special musical guest was bringing a "worship concert," so we actually did not witness this congregation in its "normal" behaviour. Nevertheless, I think we got a pretty clear picture of the overall personality of the congregation and its leadership.

I'd say the atmosphere was warm, but not vibrant or inspirational. The folks were not really UNfriendly, but only the intern pastor and his mother (who happened to be an acquaintance of mine who I did not know attended this church) spoke to us.

If we were "looking for a church," we would not put this one high on our list of candidates for a repeat visit, let's put it that way.

Now, it may seem like I am being very clinical about this assessment. I am just trying to be honest.

In terms of discovering how this church "fits" into its neighborhood and into any kind of "external" mission endeavours, we noted a finely appointed bulletin board that seems to be kept up to date showing pictures and maps of missionaries who are directly sponsored by this church. That is a good thing. Also, the church runs a school or day-care facility, and their building hosts several "ethnic" worship services; e.g., Tongan, Arab, Messianic Jewish.

When I brought up the subject of unity, someone said they knew of some other local churches that were interested in unity among the churches. This caused me to think about that phrase......

Friday, July 28, 2006


Opening this blog to serve as a repository and discussion board (of sorts) for our observations and reports and thoughts and ideas and discoveries as we conduct a "survey" of local congregations by visiting each of them, then writing a "report" of what we experienced.

The blog title "UNITY413" is based on Ephesians 4:13.

More to come, I just want to activate the blog address by entering a post.