“Throw Some Rope”
A cord of three strands is not easily broken…
The power of unity is held together by leaning into one another in His shared mission while trust manages the inevitable tensions of authentic community. Mutual accountability is a welcome expression of our voluntary submission as servant leaders under authority. We choose truth over toleration and draw strength from love and respect.
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble… A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NLT)
Each of our churches share the same mission, although it may find unique expression from place to place. No matter how you express it, the heart of it is the Great Commission – to make disciples; to see lost people; find new life in Christ. Reaching our communities for Jesus is a significant challenge, it’s a high mountain to summit. That’s why we need to throw each other some rope as we make this climb. We need to be tied into each other in a network that strengthens us all and makes us all more effective in that mission.
This idea of being stronger together for the mission is not some sort of call to fluffy emotionalism. Togetherness can never become the ultimate goal as an end unto itself. When team members “on belay” for each other as we scale the cliffs in front of us, it is a beautiful expression of Christian community. A bunch of random friends who have roped themselves; together for no real purpose other than being tied up with each other is weird, and awkward and it won’t be too long before everyone is on their last nerve and someone starts throwing punches. Maybe some of you have been to a church business meeting like that. If our togetherness as a district is going to be an authentic and truly mission-focused Biblical community, and not just some sort of pointless historic administrative association, then we have to throw some rope to each other.
We have to throw the rope of respect. Respect for each other’s unique strengths and skills. Respect for what each other brings to the table. Respect for what effectiveness looks like in our varied ministry contexts. Respect that sees one another as team members working together to win our region for Christ and not as competitors trying to score the most points in It’s Monday Again. The rope of respect.
We have to throw each other the rope of trust. A trust in each other’s commitment to Christ and His mission that allows us to have all kinds of healthy disagreement and discussion over methods and expressions and systems. It will often be out of those healthy tensions and conflicting perspectives that our best ideas will emerge.
And we have to have the kind of trust that will allow us to submit to those in authority over us. And beyond this submission, we believe the key to experiencing the best the Kingdom has to offer comes when we mature in the posture of mutual voluntary submission with one another. To take guidance and input from others, believing that they are offering it in the spirit of wanting to serve us by helping us climb whatever peak God has placed in front of us. The rope of trust.
And that kind of trust will allow us to throw the rope of accountability because, the truth is, the mission matters more. It matters more than our traditions or our comfort or our feelings, and sometimes we all need someone to look us in the eye and tell us how we can be a better climber, or point out places where poor climbing is holding us back from making the fullest progress we could be making for the Kingdom.
We all have those moments when we need to hear the truth – and we need to hear it spoken in love. And these strands weave together into a rope that allows us to do just that: to love each other, and in the context of that loving community, to speak the truth; to encourage and affirm and challenge and stretch; to brainstorm and exchange ideas and prayer requests; and to live out an authentic experience of deep-spirited community together.
And if that community is going to be healthy, it requires all three of strands of the rope we throw. You can’t respect someone who is untrustworthy. Anyone who chooses to rise to the challenge of healthy accountability is worthy of respect. And if you want to be respected and trusted without having to be accountable, it leaves the rest of us wondering what you are trying to hide. We are in this together. And this we know – we are always stronger together.