What Unity Means When You Have No Other Choice

Rachel Held Evans is holding the first annual Rally to Restore Unity at her blog. I encourage you to check it out and read some of the other participants’ entries when you’re done here. Also, we were supposed to make witty/poignant signs to go with the rally, but as my laptop puked all over itself last night, you’ll just have to imagine a witty/poignant sign right about


It was going to say something like “I CHOOSE not to be a Calvinist, and you ELECT not to be [hadn't decided yet on the right term here], but I think we can still follow Jesus together.” You’ll just have to use your imagination.


Church unity means something a bit different for Lyndie and I than it does for some. In our rural small town of Greenville, Ohio we don’t have the luxury of leaving a church when we don’t agree with its teachings in favor of going to the trendier church across town. We don’t have any new-fangled Emergent churches out here in the cornfields, so if you plan to attend church here and consider yourself in any way progressive, you will have to compromise and figure out how to love and learn from people you disagree with. Or just get bitter. We sometimes do both.

We find ourselves in the churchgoing version of The Breakfast Club. We’re stuck in a geographical room with people we don’t always have a lot in common with, but by being forced to fellowship and talk in this environment for years we’ve found many of our struggles and desires are the same as those of the people we don’t see eye to eye with.

As I’ve written before, we love the people in our church. We disagree with them significantly on a host of issues, but we love them and they do a great job of loving us. Grace has been our home for 10 years now, and it’s been a good decade. Honestly, Lyndie and I both suspect our time there is drawing to a close, but if and when we leave it will be, I trust, with hugs and continuing friendships rather than anger and broken relationships.

The biggest thing I’ve learned from these years of worshipping weekly in a church that doesn’t match my theology is that Jesus really is the point, that love is more powerful than any disagreement, and that it’s really hard to be pissed off at someone you just had chicken wings and beer with. Yes, I leave church mad about the sermon sometimes, but I still love my pastors and I know they love God and love people, regardless of whether we agree on every single exegetical issue. Or even very many.

So, keep Jesus at the center, keep love your driving impulse, and take your pastor out for coffee or drinks now and then and you should find unity, at least on the relationship level, is simpler than the theological words we try to put in its way. And the times when you still feel bitter and misunderstood, well…that’s what blogs are for.

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11 Responses to What Unity Means When You Have No Other Choice

  1. regi says:

    good post! I just recently listened to a sermon that was basically the preacher teaching his own personal convictions as if they were Biblical truth. (example: flip flops shouldn’t be worn by pastors’ wives…see what i mean?) Thankfully I don’t sit under that preacher’s ‘sermons’ every Sunday. Like you said the cool thing about Christians – Jesus is the point, everything else just needs to be prioritized correctly under Him/

  2. Vicki Munn says:

    i understand what you mean. i used to go to a “small town” church too, before i really knew who jesus really was, and i felt that some of the members did their part in keeping me from jesus, though we still love the people there. actually we have to, we are related to half of them- haha! the church i go to now (theridge.org) is really awesome, and i only remember one thing the pastor said once that made me cringe a bit. it is very modern, i think, for the area. they make misfits (me) feel so welcome and loved. it’s a place i can go and not have to cover up my tattoos, if you know what i mean. i also have visited a UU church in my town, and really liked it too. i may even go back to that one someday, after i have solidly learned jesus things. perhaps you can even drive to a larger town once a week to find a church that suits you all better?

    • I feel you on this. I love you “After I have solidly learned Jesus things” line. I’ve been a Christian since childhood and I don’t think I’ve solidly learned Jesus things yet.

  3. Brittney says:

    This is one of the very few places I feel safe-ish hearing about church, God, what is expected of us and such. I would like to say it’s not just because you tie in semi-swear words like, “piss” and you mention you have had beer-post Jesus acceptance; but those are the reasons. Regular people, being regular acknowledged-creations, hold the hysteria. We live in an overly conservative, conformist driven community and every time I come across anyone who refuses to conform, I always ask, “How the heck do you live here?” and they always reply with, “you know, there’s a growing number of people conglomerating who don’t believe recycling and yoga and a church-free-Sundays are satanism…” So, I’m thinking, there’s also a growing number of people out there who believe/trust/love God out there who also swear, drink, offend and complain. And finally, finally, it’s ok. (Not saying you offend nor am I saying I’ve heard you complain…just sayin.)

    • Thanks, Brit. I know what you mean. I feel so…not understood where we are. We love some of the people, but still feel like we’re square pegs trying to hammer ourselves into a round hole. I make it sound easier than it is in these blog posts. Thanks for hanging around.

  4. I really loved this post, David, and can SOOO relate to it right now. (We have our own Grace…a church actually called Grace, by the way!) Thanks so much for contributing.

  5. Joybird says:

    So, keep Jesus at the center, keep love your driving impulse,

    I really like this David. These words ring out strong and sound. I wonder if one of the best things about your time at this church is this, by being forced to worship and church it up with those who would not be your cup of tea if you had more options this fundamental (tongue only slightly in cheek) has been tattooed on your heart.

  6. my husband and i just read your post together, laughing and nodding our heads, and maybe tearing up just a little (well, that was me). “that post makes my heart lighter,” is what he said at the end.

    we’re with you, in similar ways. our church home in the country is nothing like the sexy emergent church we worshiped at in the city, but i have learned so much as i’ve come to love and respect people who are so very different than me.

    thanks for this. loved it.

  7. if you have unity on a relationship level then the theological level doesn’t matter as much.

  8. Pingback: Posts with the Most | The Screaming Kettle at Home

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