A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening

Reno: A Success Story

How God Is Uniting Leaders in Reno

Pastor Brent Brooks from Reno, who has learned much about building unity in his community, offers the following helpful tips. Brent is very eager to help others, and he has specific permission from his elders to offer assistance to other communities as they seek to become more unified. Feel free to contact him here.

 

Lessons from Reno

  • Start with relationships, not events. Remember, people distrust and build theories about those they don’t know; these dissolve where there is relationship.
  • Identify the various pastoral “tribes” in your community (groups of different cultures, backgrounds, distinctives, etc.).
  • Understand that each tribe has its own culture and chieftains. Learn the cultures and know the chieftains.
  • Appreciate the tribal cultures. Remember, Jesus loves the whole church, despite her flaws—especially the flaws within your tribe.
  • Learn to be multicultural, working in more than one tribe. As long as we stay separate, the devil wins. When we are one, the church will rally, the world will take notice, and the devil will flee.
  • Find others who share your passion. Build a coalition team behind the scenes. Don’t make the identity of this team public. If you do, others will ask who put you in charge. Just work quietly together behind the scenes. You’ll have allies working with you in each of the tribes.
  • Focus on the highest common theological denominators (Father, Son, Holy Spirit, the gospel, the authority of Scripture, the cross, prayer, revival).
  • Don’t treat cultural differences as theological differences.
  • Where there has been past friction between tribes, ask why. Learn from the past.
  • Where there have been past conflicts, practice deliberate “gracism.” In other words, affirmative action in reconciliation will be needed. Remain persistent even when you are initially ignored. They want to know if you are just like all the others who wanted to symbolically embrace diversity but were unwilling to accept them and their culture as full partners.
  • Don’t try to simply be “color blind.” It won’t work. The goal is not homogeneity (the old melting pot idea where “they” are supposed to become like “us”). The goal is a total embrace of all the flavors of Christ’s body (a stew pot, not a melting pot).
  • Don’t ignore the differences. Bring them out in the open. Talk about them. Recognize them, and recognize the power of the Spirit to embrace every nation, tribe, and tongue. It will happen in heaven; it can start now.
  • Don’t accept, “We tried it before; it didn’t work.” Ask, “Does that mean we should stop?”
  • Identify outliers, i.e. those who are not connected with any tribe. These will require personal contact.
  • Make sure that you seek no personal credit. Keep the focus on unity, not on you.
  • Do not imply anything bad about prior efforts. Just recognize what has gone before and build on it.
  • Remember, love covers over a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).
  • Pray at all times (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  • Find the intercessors in your community and stay closely connected with them. Everything you do must be covered with prayer.
  • Identify the key rallying points on which all can agree to pray. In Reno, they are:
  • Increasing the unity of believers in our region
  • Growing in love for one another
  • Displacing the powers of darkness (begins with repentance, individually and for the region)
  • Seeing revival come to each local church and the entire church in the region
  • Make sure, when you do have an event, that it embraces all the cultures and does not exclude any. For us, this meant including worship bands that embraced the different cultures’ music. It meant that we imposed no rules on charismatic gifts, etc. I trusted my friends to behave in my house. They did.
  • Try to do things that bring pastors and church leaders together with pastors and church leaders across tribal lines.
  • Keep prayer and revival at the center.
  • When divisive behavior occurs (and it will), don’t let it go unchallenged. Speak the truth in love, and bring your coalition members (from the tribe of the offender) together with you as you resolve your differences.
  • Remain persistent.
  • Remain persistent.
  • REMAIN PERSISTENT!