SALT LAKE CITY — In order to accomplish great things, all people and perspectives are needed, a visiting pastor told local evangelical leaders.
"Unity does not mean uniformity. It does not mean that we all have to be the same. It does mean that we all need to be headed in the same direction," said the Rev. John Jenkins of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Maryland.
Nearly 30 pastors from an estimated 15 to 20 local evangelical congregations gathered Wednesday for the eighth annual Christmas Gift Luncheon. The event was sponsored by Standing Together, a group working to bring Christians in the state together.
“The work that Standing Together is doing is very significant, in pulling churches together to work to better our community. That’s such a critical thing that we not operate in silos and operate independently, but we can get so much more done if we can work cooperatively, collaboratively,” Jenkins said in an interview.
The event was held as an effort to let evangelical workers in the state "know that their work is not in vain," and "to try to maybe inspire or encourage or bless or reward those who labor in a place where we don’t have churches on every corner," said the Rev. Greg Johnson, founder of Standing Together.
Since assuming his post in 1988, Jenkins has grown church membership from 500 to more than 10,000. On average, 11,000 people come to Sunday services held on two campuses.
Jenkins is vice chairman of the National Association of Evangelicals, and Johnson sits on the board. Both spoke of the need for church leaders to work cooperatively.
“I do see the economics of the day pressing us to have to work together. Whereas churches may have been able to do some things by themselves economically, the dynamics of the economy presses people to have to try to work together,” Jenkins said in an interview.
The key to successfully working together lies in humility, he said.
“People have to come to the table with the sense that, ‘I’m not the big dog. It’s not about me. It’s not about my church. It’s not about my organization.' Humility is the key, and God loves humility as well,” Jenkins said.
Lift, thrust, weight and drag are the basic components of a successful flight, he told the pastors, punctuating each component with a corresponding arm motion. Lift and thrust get the plane off the ground, and weight and drag help the plane land safely.
Jenkins compared these cooperative elements to the work the pastors are doing in their ministries.
“Some of you will be lift, some of you will be weight. Some of you will be thrust, some of you will be drag. But if you work all together, you will be able to accomplish great things in the kingdom of God,” he said.
Jenkins quoted the last verse of Psalm 133 that talks about God commanding a blessing when there is unity.
"When the blessing is commanded, no devil in hell, no demon in hell can stop you from accomplishing significant things, because God loves unity," he said.
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