christian-unityUnity between churches is challenging and time consuming but is also at the center of Jesus’ prayer in John 17.

As a general rule of thumb, if Jesus prayed for it, we want to be part of it.  Collaboration between churches is exciting and powerful, but if you’re not there yet, here are two easy-peasy steps any pastor can take toward true unity with other churches.

2 minute unity: Take 2 minutes in your church service to pray for other churches in your city by name.  We’ve been doing this for a few years now.  We invite people to pray for a local church they know and we offer a few suggestions if they don’t know of churches.   We pray for the mega church down the road, the smaller recovery church downtown and the lutheran church near us, among others.  Most of all, we mean it.  We sincerely pray for their blessing and well being.

25 Minute Unity:  Meet with other pastors and pray for each other, for each other’s churches, for each other’s people.  Because we’re wild and crazy, we pray once a month, 6:30am on Sunday mornings, but you might choose a less biblical more convenient time 🙂  As pastors, we pray and worship together on a Sunday before going separately to pray and worship in our churches.

Aside from moving toward true unity, there are many fringe benefits:

— These prayers gently remind our people that other churches are never our competition, but are our brothers and sisters.  Paul makes it clear in Ephesians who our competition really is.

— Allows us to bless people who leave our church for another.  Knowing other pastors in the area, I can recommend many other churches if we’re not a fit.

— conversely, if people come to us from another church, they can sometimes offer us a backhanded compliment by criticizing the church or pastor they came from.  I am less apt to receive that if I’ve been praying with their pastor and praying for their church by name during our worship gatherings.  (of course, we receive people with genuine concerns or wounds from a previous experience and we’re sensitive to that.  This isn’t one size fits all.)

— Puts a small dent in the overwhelming tide of church consumerism.  We’re on mission together, we’re not here to first meet your worship and teaching style preference.

— It reminds us that God works way beyond our little piece of the Kingdom.

— and of course, its a prayer that God loves to answer.  We have strong unity in our city, cross denominational and cross style and many leaders are friends and co-laborers.

Thoughts?  What practices can you share that encourage unity?