By: Dhati Lewis– Rallying people around Christ’s mission can seem daunting. One of the reasons is that most believers have no desire to be on mission for Christ. Second, the ones who do want to be on mission often have their own agenda. So if you have any experience trying to rally people around a specific vision in regards to mission, you have realized this task is like trying to herd cats! Many denominations have been birthed from the belief that we can do more together than apart. The question for this generation is, do we still believe that? “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.” (Matt. 16:19–20) All authority is given to we, not me! Christ, understanding this hardship, gives a unique authority to the gathered church. This authority to bind and loose is not given to an individual; it is given to the local church.
I understand we face a complexity of problems due to the density and diversity of our cities. I also understand that there is not one church or one mission that will accomplish all the needs of a particular neighborhood or city. However, I do believe we need to provide more unity, not uniformity, in our mission.
Uniformity is a group of people pursuing a common purpose with only one strategy. This is when a person thinks that unity is assimilation, where the goal is to make look-a-likes of whomever the strongest or most prominent person in the room is. Uniformity kills true diversity in the body because it reinforces parroting, inauthenticity, and outward conformity.
Unity, on the other hand, is a group of people banding together for a common purpose, in their own unique strategies. Unity looks like a football team. You have a group of people with different positions and different responsibilities, but they are all trying to achieve the same goal. And that goal is what drives them. In unity, there is dignity, empowerment, and trust.
The key difference between the two is that uniformity shrinks the beauty of our complexities, and shrinks it to simple outward conformity. Unity reinforces mutual solidarity—rallying us around a common vision and goal.
Remember, God has gifted us uniquely for the common good. But oftentimes, like the world, we are unable to work together for God’s common vision. We must ask ourselves, especially in the urban context, is our mission ultimately to fulfill God’s purpose or to get our fame within God’s purposes?
I have firsthand experience when it comes to this hardship. I am part of a band of brothers with a unique burden to be the last generation of minorities to leave the urban context in search of sound discipleship. What started off as a clear vision to bring the message of the person and work of Christ into every neighborhood, what started as an attempt to establish a tangible presence of that message in our cities, has turned into a quest for comfort and a desire to grab bigger platforms of greater influence. This shift tears at the fabric of corporate unity, hindered our ability to be God’s gathered people locally.
The ability to stay together in unity is not an easy task. If you don’t believe me, ask Kobe and Shaq, the former big three in Miami (LeBron, Wade, and Bosh), or any other great sports dynasty. There are always things pulling at the fabric of unity, whether it’s ambition, pride, or a lack of contentment. Our ability to stay together as a picture of reconciliation in the church is a demonstration of the power of God. Therefore we must fight for unity, as God’s people.We must fight for unity as God's people. Click To Tweet
As we enter God’s mission, God allows trials and spiritual warfare to serve as diagnostic checks in our souls to question the authenticity of our calls and the integrity of our hearts. Welcome these and evaluate your heart carefully; welcome others to join you in this as you enter the mission. This will lead to being an authentic leader, one who can be trusted, one without the hidden agendas or the skeletons in the closet or the sketchy bank account.
I truly believe that authenticity is the apologetic of our day. People are not impressed with our ability to teach or preach or write. People watch and listen when they know you are real and authentic, and when they know you are being shaped and molded by the Maker. I see this in parenting very clearly. My children are not impressed that I can tell them what to do. They are not impressed because I teach them right and wrong. No, they are impressed when they see me growing up with them, when they see me clinging to the Lord for guidance and answers, and when they see me repentant for my harsh tone or my forgetfulness. This is true of the church. You can teach what you know, but you only reproduce who you are.I truly believe that authenticity is the apologetic of our day. Click To Tweet
You may be asking why this is important in our mission, and I would argue that it’s important for a couple of reasons. The first reason authenticity is important is because people want to know if there is a God, and if you believe in that God, does He grip every aspect of your life? Or is He just something you do as an add-on to other things? I am consistently telling people that the world is not impressed when you get the same thing they get and you put a “Thank You, Jesus” at the end. They get a car and they say it was because of hard work; you get a car, and say it was God’s grace—they are not impressed. People are looking for something real, something genuine; not an add-on to what naturally happens. They are looking for a faith that makes you reorient your life and shift your priorities, a faith that makes you stand with integrity and lead out in boldness. Another reason it’s important in mission is because trials and temptations often reveal our authentic selves. We must be honest with ourselves and be willing to assess our hearts so we can stay aligned with the Father. Self-assessment is a helpful “check-up” as we enter the mission and as we continue to engage in mission. This is why, when I consider my five circles, I am intentionally asking the question on every one of those circles:
Am I the type of person I want to see reproduced? Do I have the type of marriage I want to see in my neighborhood? Do I have the type of nuclear family I want to see? Do we have the type of missional community we want to see reproduced? Do we have the type of church we want to see reproduced?
And in each one of these rings, I put in intentional reminders, disciplines to cultivate the integrity and authenticity of being those things before trying to reproduce those realities.
Dhati Lewis is the Lead Pastor at Blueprint Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He is most passionate about church-planting and making disciples and is passionate about living out biblical truths in every aspect of life. He is currently working toward a D.Min from SEBTS in Great Commission Mobilization with a focus on planting multi-ethnic churches in the urban context. He is author of Among Wolves: Disciple Making in the City
This article is an excerpt from Among Wolves: Disciple Making in the City. Used by permission.