U·ni·ty (n) – the state of being one; oneness; a whole or totality as combining all its parts into one; the state or fact of being united or combined into one, as of the parts of a whole; unification; oneness of mind, feeling, etc., as among a number of persons; concord, harmony, or agreement.
Those are some of the definitions regarding unity that I found on dictionary.com. However, the Bible describes it this way…
John 17:11 – “Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life that you conferred as a gift through me, so they can be one heart and mind as we are one heart and mind.” (Message)
Imagine if we as a church (The River Church) and as the Church (the universal church) could be as one like the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one? What would that look like?
I think that at The River Church we are really beginning to see the start of that. I know that in the past it has been rocky, but I really believe that we are in a time where we are beginning to see God unify us in some pretty awesome ways!
One way that I have seen this has been with the pastoral search team. From my understanding, this is the first time in the church’s history that a search team has had such peace and unity amongst its members. We as a team have seen God do some really cool things and it is all because we came to the table broken and desiring to see God move through us.
Our process as a team has been that we would all receive a copy of the email with the cover letter, resume and picture of the candidates for a lead pastor to review on our own. After reviewing it we would come together on Monday as a team and bring the resumes of candidates that we thought would be the best fit for our church. When we received the resume for Brad, who will be coming on June 20th to speak to the congregation and whom the members will vote whether or not to extend an offer to, every member of the team brought his name to the table. This did not happen for any of the other candidates. After sending follow-up questionnaires to a select few candidates we were all once again blown away by the responses by Brad and felt that he still was the top guy. As a team, we spent some serious time praying before we decided which three of the six candidates that would be sent onto the elders and Brad received everyone’s number one vote. There was complete unity in this every step of the way.
When we sent the names onto the elders we did not reveal to them the order in which we had placed the top three. We gave them the names in alphabetical order. After each elder received an email with the candidates cover letter, resume, picture, questionnaire, and link to a message for them to listen to, they met and all three of the elders had separately chosen Brad as the top candidate. (Bill Gregory did not vote since he was a part of the search team and didn’t want to reveal how we had voted.) Having that unity amongst them and Bill informing them how we as the search team had the same unity, the elders then decided that they would only focus on Brad.
The elders had the opportunity to meet with Brad and his family for dinner as they were passing through town on a Friday to attend his oldest son’s graduation from Taylor University. The elders and some of their wives, who were there, were impressed with how well it went and how there seemed to be a real sense of community there. The next Monday, the elders had an almost 4 hour Skype chat with Brad where they asked him lots of very tough questions and gave Brad the same opportunity to do the same. From what I understand there was a lot of honesty shared back and forth along with unity about the direction they were headed. However, they decided to spend some more time in prayer to make sure that this was indeed the direction God was leading them.
After that time of prayer, all parties decided to continue moving forward and Brad provided names and numbers of people to contact to check work references and accountability partners. The elders spent a considerable amount of time talking with several people and everyone they spoke with highly recommended Brad. Once again, we were seeing unity in all of this.
The decision was made to bring Brad and his wife, Heidi, out to speak with us, share their story, give the church an opportunity to ask questions and then allow the members an opportunity to vote as to whether or not we want to extend an offer to Brad to become the next lead pastor here at The River. Our hope and prayer is that the church will see the unity of the search team and the unity of the elders along with the time and effort put into the process and that we as a church will have the same type of unity when we meet on June 20th. I know that there have been lots of questions about this feeling rushed, but the process has been anything but rushed. We have taken our time and done our due diligence to completely check this man out and spend a considerable amount of time in prayer over this. We trust and hope that you as members and attenders of The River have been doing the same thing and will continue to do so. How else can we have unity unless we draw close to the One who is true unity?
So join us in prayer over this next week to pray for God’s direction and unity. Then come on June 20th with an expectant heart to hear from the Father and to sense the unity that He truly desires for the people at The River.