In Ephesians there is doctrinal unity in chapters 1-3 and practical unity 4-6. Mark Driscoll’s five areas of unity, fall into these two big areas of doctrinal and practical unity and gives good examples and applications for preaching Ephesians.
1) Theological Unity
Driscoll writes about “closed hand of nonnegotiables” connected to the gospel of Jesus Christ for which he and his church would fight. There are other open hand issues, however, for which he and his church will not fight. Driscoll misses few chances to take a swipe at Fundamentalism: “But we don’t have to fight for every issue with a fundamentalistic spirit.”
Driscoll correctly blasts legalism’s attack on the gospel as found in Galatians. Modern-day legalism or secondary doctrines or open-hand beliefs for Driscoll include “worship styles; mode of children’s education (e.g., home school, private school, public school); church service times; method of Christian counseling; tongues; physical location of the church building; alcohol; mode of dress at church (especially the dress of the pastor); political party affiliation; church size; number of services; Bible translation; eschatological fine points; raising hands or swaying or dancing in worship; baptism in relation to Communion; and the age of the earth, as if it came with a ‘born on’ date like a can of Budwieser.” His list is much boarder than my list of what would be considered secondary. While eschatological fine points, which for Driscoll would be pre-tribulationalism), tongues, and the age of the earth are not Fundamentals of the Faith, they are issues I want the leadership and membership to agree on.
Driscoll writes a position paper on the open-hand issues which he stores as electronic copies to give to people who challenge him. I thought this was a good idea. If the challenger reads his position paper and still wants to meet with Driscoll, he will discuss the issue with him. But now in his very large church, Driscoll has a volunteer theological answer team that fields people’s questions.
2) Relational Unity
This unity includes loving one another by being respectful even with those that you do not agree (Ephesians 4:2-3). You may not like them, but you still love them with the love of God that has been poured into your heart.
3) Philosophical Unity
“In addition to Bible rules, the church family, like all families, also has house rules about how they do things “such as baptism, Communion, evangelism, etc. Church members need to be in close proximity on these. Otherwise you may get “the right fist of fellowship.”
4) Missional Unity
A mission statement will help ensure this unity.
5) Organizational Unity
Job descriptions, performance reviews, and polices are a must for organizational unity.
Next Driscoll identifies the reasons for division in a local church. Here are a few.
1) Heretics Divide Churches
Driscoll does an excellent job at exhorting the church to fight heretics supported with 38 Biblical references. He wrapped up this section with a good line: “The problem with some churches and their leaders is that they won’t fight, and the problem with others is that they won’t stop fighting.”
2) Pride Divides Churches
After dealing with devastating personal pride, Driscoll confronts organizational pride which “includes ‘not invented here’ syndrome, which means we only sing songs and do things that we created, and ‘that’s not how we do it here’ syndrome, which means that past success is used to resist future change for the sake of the mission.”
3) Legalism Divides Churches
Driscoll has a great paragraph that you will just have to buy the book to read. It is too long to quote.
Driscoll concludes chapter six by discussing conflict: “When a church grows, it changes, and that change causes conflict.” Driscoll does not give the early church in Acts as an example but it experienced growth and conflict. So church leaders are going to have to decide, do they want to worship Christ and lead others to worship Him by experiencing spiritual and numerical growth and also the conflict that comes with such growth and change, or are they going to worship comfort.