Will You Pray and Fast With Us?

Tomorrow (Wednesday, March 29th) has been designated as a day of fasting and prayer for unity by the brothers who drafted the unity proposal (PDF link). Here's a confession: Being the sinful, cynical, prideful soul I am, I had originally not given that much consideration. Shame on me. I think this is an important moment in our fellowship of churches. Not so much whether this document gets signed or not, but what happens after all the dust this settles. Signatures or not, will we move forward in greater unity or less? Will we let this divide us or determine to unite regardless of the number of signatures on the page at the end of the day?

That being said, I think that a bunch of prayer and fasting is in order. So, if you are so moved, would you pray and perhaps fast with us? Even if you find yourself here many days later, we could likely still use a prayer or two to be unified.

Pray that we might come through this more united than before.

Pray that God's desire for us to be one as he and Jesus were one would be realized.

Pray that Satan's desire to make this an opportunity for him to divide us would be thwarted.

Pray that I would be humble, trusting and gracious. (I really could use that.)

Thank you.

8 Comments

Doug,
Thanks for your desire to fast and pray for something with which you may not agree. It shows a heart which desires to inquire of God's will and not to be obsessed with being right or wrong in your position. It is a great example I will follow.

Sincerely,
Phil Spadaro
RestorationUnity.com

Phil- Thanks for the kind words. As I remember, the day of fasting and prayer was for unity, not for the proposal itself. At any rate, I hope that the discussion leads us to the place where we can achieve the unity God desires. If that happens through the proposal, in spite of the proposal or in the absense of the proposal matters little ultimately.

Unity I'm all for, the proposal, not so much. :-)

Sorta on topic but goin' in a different direction...

The leadership group in the Church in New Hampshire is actually going to all the midweek services in our area over a period of about a month to get everyone else's input and concerns about the proposal.

Last night was Nashua's time to pose questions and concerns. (I live in Nashua.)

There were some really great questions and some really great and comforting answers. I believe it put many concerns to rest. Some had concerns about the long-term effect of the UP. It was reasurring that the leadership group feels that if the 350(+-) churches start going in a direction that is not where we think we should go...then we'll just not be part of it.

I really appreciate the way Mike Fix (the full-time guy) is going about this. He has displayed over the last three years a desire to maintain his relationships with brothers around the globe who can help him be more effective. And we in NH have been joined pretty heavily with the European churches because of his efforts over the last three years.

I don't think anything will change as a result of NH signing onto the UP. We will just be part of something bigger than NH again...And I like that.

May God bring about a unity among the world-wide fellowship that is far beyond anything we have experienced in the past!

And Seriously: To God be the glory! AMEN?!

Jeff:

From what you wrote, your congregation never stopped being part of something bigger than NH. Ratifying the Plan has nothing to do with this. The hearts for unity in all of you have everything to do with it.

Mark

Mark, you are correct in reality. I would never deny that. Mike has led us in NH very well through the storm.

But emotionally, the movement was indeed fragmented. It was hard to know with whom you were unified without actually talking to someone.

At one time, weren't we able to just show up at a service in some other area of the world and know that we would be unified with those who worshipped there? that we would share a common bond? For a little while now, that has not been the case. I just think it'll be great to know that there are 350 some odd unified churches again.

It's not a "strength in numbers" thing. It's simply an encouragement to know.

Jeff:

Well, yes and no. I think folks told themselves that was true, but it was not. For example, after experiencing the unrighteousness of one of the ICOC's WSL's pre-HKL, I knew there was no way I could be a part of his congregation in good conscience. There was considerable disagreement all along. Much of this repressed disagreement was vented at the L.A. Unity Meeting a few months before HKL. It was repressed because people were afraid they'd be marked as disunified. We told ourselves we were unified, but we were not. No Association Agreement in the world actually made us unified.

Likewise, at that same time, I felt perfectly unified with disciples in some mainline CoC's and had no problems visiting with them, even supporting a mainline CoC missionary (arguably with money from ICOC members who paid my salary). All this while working for ACES and certainly Johnson and my boss knew, for example, that we visited mainline CoC's when traveling.

You cannot and will not have true unity based on this agreement. You can have unity based on an agreement, but only one: the Covenant with God you have that you celebrate at his table. If you DO have unity based on this agreement, you necessarily imply that you do NOT have the same unity with those who have not agreed. That alone makes this artificial Covenant divisive, IMHO.

FWIW, the same common bond you describe is described by mainline CoC'ers as they visit each other's congregations.

The only way there will be worldwide unity is around Jesus - at his cross, at his table. Not around a man-made Covenant. It is doomed to the same destiny as the ICOC, IMHO.

Mark,

I have two things I want to say. The first is very simple...

I finally figured out what all your acronyms meant!!! YES! I gotta confess, FWIW had me for a while.

I am not sure what I have communicated that would make you think I am not on the same page as you. I believe I have stated in the past that I really don't care if there is a document or not. It won't change my relationship with God. It won't change my relationship with former ICOCers, COCers, people of other religions, or non-Christians. That is all dependant upon my own walk with God.

The UP will serve the purpose for which it was designed and then prayerfully fade away.

The point I was making was that there was an emotional uncertainty about where the movement was. Emotions are funny. They aren't based on rational thought and reason. When I say that "But emotionally, the movement was indeed fragmented" it is because that was a very common feeling, at least around these parts.

We who were part of the ICOC for more than 15 years or so can remember what it was like to baptize 60 people a week. We were in the battle encouraging eachother, spurring eachother, and even challenging eachother to be all Jesus wanted us to be. And we knew that was the case all around the globe. It didn't make us any more saved than someone who was outside the ICOC movement. But it did bond us together.

CAUTION: POTENTIALLY WIERD ANALOGY COMING UP--
If you saw the mini-series Band of Brothers (my personal favorite BTW) you will have seen that the men of Easy Company bonded in an incredible way. They were the best of the best. And they had a unity that lasts even into today.
That does not mean they were the only ones in the war. Of course everyone on the armed services was in the war, but E. Company had a bond that very few others shared.

Now here is a conclusion I DO NOT WANT YOU TO DRAW with this: I am NOT saying that we, as the ICOC, were better than anyone. But we had a bond that was created simply by being part of the ICOC. And all of a sudden, within a period of less than a year, the thing that bonded us was no more. Obviously the Kingdom of God was still there, but there was no ICOC...no world vision...no united effort to send mission teams into all the world...It was ripped out from under out legs.

That hit the emotions of people. All you had to do is read some of the ICOC forums a coupla years ago and you would know that many people were emotionally disjointed and unsure how the other guy felt. And we were not used to that.

I am on the same page as you, Mark. I know that our whole-hearted and humble service to Jesus is the only way to create a unity with one another. I know that the scriptures should be enough to do that. And I believe they will.

But if it takes something like the UP to jumpstart the process of bringing the world-wide movement back together, I can live with that. The moment we begin using the UP to define us and exclude others...then I will jump ship. But I pray, as I mentioned before, that the UP will serve its purpose and then just fade away.

I actually think the example of how things were 15 years ago is great because it predates the written association agreements. In fact, that's kinda what I was trying to say. The written agreements were about legal boundaries and defined ecclesiastical authority and the unity you describe (which, given the arrogance of many of us at the time, I don't particularly want to go back to either) was not related to them at all.

The truth is, the imposition of ecclesiastical authority fostered a lot of resentment on the part of some of the associated churches. I saw some of it at ACES - churches didn't want to be told what to do, even if you were simply telling them, "be honest." Really.

I tried to come up with something funny to say FWIW stood for, but I couldn't think of anything. This joke from my 10 year old will have to suffice: "So, a man walks into a bar. He says, 'Ouch!'"



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  • I actually think the example of how things were 15 years ago is great because it predates the written association agreements. In fact, that's kinda what I was trying to say. The written agreements were about legal bounda...

  • Mark, I have two things I want to say. The first is very simple... I finally figured out what all your acronyms meant!!! YES! I gotta confess, FWIW had me for a while. I am not sure what I have communicated that woul...

  • Jeff: Well, yes and no. I think folks told themselves that was true, but it was not. For example, after experiencing the unrighteousness of one of the ICOC's WSL's pre-HKL, I knew there was no way I could be a part of h...

  • Mark, you are correct in reality. I would never deny that. Mike has led us in NH very well through the storm. But emotionally, the movement was indeed fragmented. It was hard to know with whom you were unified without a...

  • Jeff: From what you wrote, your congregation never stopped being part of something bigger than NH. Ratifying the Plan has nothing to do with this. The hearts for unity in all of you have everything to do with it. Mark ...

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