Real unity in the gospel

Real unity in the gospel

A couple of weeks ago I spent two days at a conference with 170 or so other gospel workers. It was the Perth Gospel Partnership annual pastor’s conference. The PGP is an association between those who affirm a reformed and evangelical view of the Scriptures.  (You can find out more about PGP here).

Good conferences are always encouraging, and the speakers on preaching and sexuality issues were helpful and thought-provoking. Yet I don’t go to these events for the speakers. I would attend this conference whoever happens to be speaking. I am always encouraged by the people.

Perth is a small place in terms of gospel ministry. Although the city has almost three million people, there are relatively few churches. This has led, over time, to an ecosystem where people know one another across denominational boundaries. The reformed churches in Perth tend to send their ministry candidates to the same interdenominational theological college (Trinity Theological College) and support the same Christian university ministries. So, although I pastor a Presbyterian Church, I spent time speaking with those from Christian Reformed churches, Anglican churches, and Baptist churches. We are on the same team. We agree on all kinds of important things, and the things we differ on are not as important as the things we agree on.

I think this kind of unity is incredibly important. It is so easy to fall back into your own denomination or ministry culture and criticize those who do things differently. Yet we need to show a watching world that we are as united as we can be. I also learn a lot from those in other traditions. It would be arrogance in the extreme to think that the way we are used to doing things is the only good way to do them!

Realistically, with the state of the church in Western Australia, we cannot afford to rely only on our own denominations to reach everyone with the gospel. If a church member of mine moved to Port Hedland, I would recommend them to go to the Anglican church there where I went to university with the current pastor. If they were to move to Albany, I would recommend them to the Baptist church there where the pastor and I have known one another for many years.

Christians should make every effort at unity. Other Christians who take the Bible seriously and yet are in other traditions are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are on the same team. Let’s act like we are.