For more than thirty years, Ingleside has been a remarkably united church. Across those three decades, we have learned some important truths about our unity – some of which I am recounting in this series of articles.
In earlier installments (read them all here), I have addressed (1) why we should talk about this topic now; (2) how unity is both a gift and a goal; (3) seven dimensions of our spiritual unity; (4) how we are united by what we believe – our doctrinal unity; (5) how we are united by a common purpose; and (6) how strong leadership promotes unity. This week, in the last of the series, our focus is on the relationship between unity in the church and influence in the world.
The longest recorded prayer of Jesus in the Bible is in John 17, and a key theme of that prayer is unity. As he interceded for his disciples, Jesus prayed “that they may be one” (v. 11). Later in the prayer, he again asked “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us” (v. 21, ESV).
The unity for which Jesus prays is not a unity achieved at the expense of the truth – he affirms clearly that “your word is truth” (v. 17b, ESV). Nor is it a unity at the expense of holiness – he prayed that the Father would make his followers “pure and holy” (v. 17a, NLT).
It is, however, a unity that will give Jesus’ disciples maximum influence in the world with the gospel. Notice carefully verse 21. Jesus prays “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (ESV).
Simply put, Jesus is teaching us that when a church is united its influence for Christ in the world is maximized; when a church is divided its influence is diminished.
This truth has been confirmed by recent research. In a report entitled, “FACTs on Growth,” and based on surveys completed by more than 800 churches, Kirk Hadaway writes:
The strongest correlate of growth when all controls were in effect was the presence or absence of conflict. Obviously, conflict cannot be completely avoided, but whether or not a congregation finds itself mired in serious conflict is the number one predictor of congregational decline.
The bottom line: a church that wants to grow numerically and in influence for Christ will prize and protect its unity.
I am thankful that our church family has long embraced this truth. As a result, Ingleside has been a healthy, united, and growing church for many years. As we look to the future, our effectiveness in making disciples will depend on our ongoing commitment to unity.
So, whether young or old, a newcomer or an old-timer, a worshiper in our Traditional, Blended, or Contemporary services, for the sake of our witness to the world please join me in renewing your commitment to biblical unity. God is greatly glorified and the influence of the gospel is magnified when the church is unified.
I’m grateful for God’s favor on our journey together across the years. And I am convinced: the best is yet to come!
Easter at Ingleside 2021
I hope you will plan now to invite a friend and join us for worship on Easter weekend as we celebrate together the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
On the weekend of April 3-4, we are planning to gather in seven in-person worship services and two livestream services as follows:
|Saturday||4:00 p.m. Worship Center (Blended)
6:00 p.m. Worship Center (Blended)
6:00 p.m. Multi-Purpose Gym (Contemporary)
6:00 p.m. Livestream
|Sunday||8:30 a.m. Chapel (Traditional)
9:15 a.m. Worship Center (Blended)
11:00 a.m. Worship Center (Blended)
11:00 a.m. Multi-Purpose Gym (Contemporary)
11:00 a.m. Livestream
Preschool ministry will be offered at all services, and kids worship (5K-grade 5) will occur at the same times as each of the four Blended services (reservations are required).
Increased capacity. As vaccinations increase and the spread of coronavirus slows, beginning on Easter Sunday we will raise our capacity limits in each service from approximately 25% to 33%.
That means we will be able to accommodate 530 worshipers in each service in the Worship Center, 165 in the Chapel, and 135 in the Multi-Purpose Gym.
Our total in-person, on-campus capacity for all services on Easter weekend worship will be 2,555.
The bottom line: we are making space for you, and we hope to see you here!
Gathering safely for all. Since this past June, we have gathered for worship each week with processes in place that have kept the worship environment safe for all of our church family – from youngest to oldest.
Of course, we are looking forward to the day when all pandemic precautions can be set aside, but we are not quite there yet. So, on Easter weekend, we will continue to follow our pandemic protocols as follows:
- Reservations are required. Easter reservations may be made on our website beginning at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 28.
- We will practice social distancing — touchless check-in, seating every other row, and three seats between households.
- Face coverings are strongly encouraged – per the guidance of our governing authorities.
Of course, if you have COVID-19 symptoms, have been exposed, or are awaiting test results on Easter weekend, please participate only by livestream, and do not come to the in-person gatherings.
And, as always, if your age or health situation suggest it is wisest for you to continue to participate only by livestream, please do so with our blessing and encouragement.
The Easter worship environment at Ingleside will be safe for all – so I hope to see you here!
Hope for a better tomorrow. As we gather on Easter weekend, the music will be stirring, the message will be uplifting, and you will be encouraged by worshiping with others.
We will be reminded of the hope that we have in Jesus . . . hope secured by his death and resurrection, hope that promises eternal life, and hope for a better tomorrow.
So, make your plans now, and invite someone you love to join you in worship at Ingleside this Easter.
I look forward to seeing you on Easter weekend!
Your Pastor and Friend,