We spent some time in the desert as elders and wives a couple of weeks ago. We found ourselves wrestling with the call to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit both in our team and our community. We are working towards some sort of 'unity charter' for our team and church. Still a work in progress.
1)Because we believe that Christ reconciled us firstly to God, but secondly to one another in his body the church, we will make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit both between churches and within our local church. Unity does not mean complete agreement or conformity. Through the cross we can be united in diversity and as we attain to the unity of the faith. (Acts 2, Eph 4)
2)We maintain unity primarily by speaking the truth in love to our neighbor, rather than about them, recognizing that the tongue has the power of life and death, and acknowledging that the sinful nature has a tendency to avoid face to face communication and pursue gossip, malice and slander, which grieves the Spirit.(Eph 4)
3)We acknowledge that whether offense is taken or caused, the initiative remains with us to go and seek peace. (Matt 18:15-19, Matt 5:24) Forgiveness means that we send our debtor away debt free, because we have been sent away debt free at the cross.
4) We see that it is a persons glory to overlook an offense, and that one who covers over an offense promotes love. (Prov 19:11) Maturity means at times that we deal with an offense internally, without bringing it up with the person at all. Overlooking an offense includes forgiveness, and also resisting the urge to share the offense with others.
5) We also recognize that the gospel includes both pardon and reconciliation. While forgiveness does not ensure a restoration of a broken relationship to it's original state, we heed the scriptural encouragement to 'be reconciled to our brother.(Matt 5:19)
6) We believe that a church united in diversity reflects and glorifies the Tri-Une God, and brings his commanded blessing.(Ps 133) We also see that a united community is good for the gospel. "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another."(Jn 13:35)
7)While we embrace social networking in the building of community, we will not use email, texting, facebook or twitter to resolve conflict, but will endeavor to communicate face to face or by phone.