Uniting People Begins with Relationships

The following is the column published in The Wylie News on March 7, 2012.

What do pastors talk about when they get together? You might think they compare attendance or offering numbers. Maybe you believe they discuss the problem people they encounter. “I’ll trade you a constant complainer who’s a good tither for a young family with wild children and a deacon to be named later.” The reality is most pastors don’t talk to other pastors within their community.

It goes beyond pastors. Many church members look at other churches as competition. There can be distrust between Christians because the church across town doesn’t use hymnals and ours does. One might question the devotion of another church because they aren’t as exciting as our church. This can result in churches and Christians who do their own thing often ignoring their brother and sister in Christ across the street.

Over two years ago a Wylie couple invited several pastors to get together. They even used the magic words, “We’ll buy your breakfast.” Some pastors showed up and ate breakfast together. True to their word, Bryan and Regina Rogers paid for breakfast and offered breakfast again if we wanted to keep meeting.

Each month we’d share a little more about our churches, lives, families, struggles and joys. It gradually transformed from a breakfast to a time of encouragement and prayer for one another. We moved from a restaurant to meeting in our churches, rotating each month to be able to pray at our different locations.

What developed wasn’t just another spiritual activity to fill our calendars, but real relationships between pastors and ministry leaders. When I had surgery, some of these pastors called or stopped by to pray with me. When our congregation was purchasing property in town, some of these pastors showed up to pray for God’s blessing on Waterbrook. Early on a recent Sunday one of these pastors texted that he’d been praying for me that morning. I was able to reply that I’d been praying for him. This is not competition. This is support of the best kind!

If someone visits our church and tells me it wasn’t quite the church they are looking for, I’ll ask a couple follow up questions to
determine exactly what kind of church they hope to find. They’re often surprised when I give a recommendation for them to visit another church in town I think might suit them better. It doesn’t bother me to send someone to another church in town because I know those pastors and want to see people fit into the right local church and see all of God’s family grow.

As the relationships among leaders have grown the last couple years, it seems natural that not just pastors should experience this unity in the Body of Christ. All followers of Christ should be experiencing the love and concern we share for one another and the work we’re each doing. So, it’s no surprise when Bryan and Regina approached some of us with an idea for something bigger to unite all the Christians in our community. God had already been working in each of our hearts individually in preparation for a unified event.

The discussion quickly developed into something amazing as God has opened doors of opportunity. We were able to stand before a group of local church, business and community leaders recently and announce a combined community Good Friday service called “1 Night To Unite” to be held Friday, April 6th at 7:00 pm. We quickly realized if we were to truly get all the Christians together we don’t have a church big enough to hold them all in Wylie. We’ve worked with Wylie ISD to secure the Wylie Stadium as the location for this unique celebration.

This special night of worship will include a band and choir made up of individuals from a variety of different churches in town. (In fact, there may still be room if you want to get into the choir. Go www.1NightToUnite.org for this and other volunteer opportunities.) Then, God went beyond our expectations in securing a first class speaker for the event, Tony Evans. Dr. Evans is a pastor, author and chaplain for both the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Mavericks.

We’ve all seen God transform lives through the work of local churches. You probably know of marriages that have been restored, families healed, and people made new. Imagine the impact on an entire community when many churches come together. Consider Psalm 133:1, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” (NIV)

Consider our mission statement as you think about joining us for 1 Night to Unite:

Valuing the diversity of Christ’s church within a community who proclaim the same Gospel of Jesus Christ, but approaching their walk of faith in different styles; and realizing churches who are different can be effective in reaching different audiences with the Gospel message – this is the Body of Christ.

God can work powerfully through united believers who join together in witness and purpose. We are that variety of believers who are united around God’s Word and Jesus Christ as the one way to a relationship with God. We are uniting to glorify God and make an impact in our community.

You’ll see and hear more in the coming weeks. On behalf of over twenty local churches and ministries already committed to participating in “1 Night to Unite” I hope you’ll consider joining us for this powerful night of worship.

Pastor Jeff Denton is lead pastor of Waterbrook Bible Fellowship, 507 Thomas Street in Wylie. He can be reached at Jeff.Denton@Waterbrook.org

Posted: March 9, 2012 
Filed under: Deep Thoughts with Pastor Jeff, Jeff, Leadership, Pastor Jeff, Spiritual, Texas, Waterbrook Bible Fellowship
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