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Christ-Centered Model in Christian Unity, I
(Guidelines -- 531-95 Na)

 

A Christ-Centered Model of Diversity In Christian Unity For the
North American Division


The Challenge: A Response to Changing Times
We live in dynamic, changing times. While the church must be sensitive to the various forces influencing change, it must not allow these forces to be the main criteria for change. The need for restructuring the church must not be driven by economic or political forces, but by the egalitarian factors of the Gospel.


The Need: A New Paradigm
There is a need in the church for a new paradigm or way of thinking, valuing and perceiving the world. This new paradigm, exemplified in the phrase unity in diversity in Christ is an expression of The Principle of Inclusiveness—since we are one with God, we are also one with each other, equal before both (John 17:23; Acts 10; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:14-22; COL 386 7T 225).


The Assumptions: Shared Values

Basis of Authority — The church derives its authority from Christ, who is the incarnate Word, and from the Scriptures, which are the written Word. The writings of Ellen G. White are a continuing source of truth and instruction.

Unity in Diversity in Christ — A genuine Christian experience demonstrates unity in diversity in Christ. This unity in is an outgrowth of the Gospel, and is reflected in both belief and behavior;

Reflection of the Godhead — The church fellowship that most closely resembles the relationship of the Godhead is one where there is a unity of spirit, objectives, and beliefs;

Diversity of Gifts — Unity in diversity in Christ is God’s plan for the church, through the utilization of the diverse gifts of its members;

Unity Essential to Mission Accomplishment — The full use of all the church’s resources—physical, financial, and human—are essential for an effective communication of the Gospel. However, the close unity among the believers is even more essential in a greater accomplishment of the mission of the church in the world today;

An Unchanging God — In our changing environment the only constant is a God who does not change.

The Model: The Christ-Centered Model of Diversity in Christian Unity (see graphic below)

 

Model


Illustrates Inclusiveness — The model illustrates the new paradigm of inclusiveness.

Centers on Christ — The model centers on the cross of Jesus Christ as that which not only draws all people (John 12:32), but is the foundation on which all find a oneness in Christ (Galatians 3:28).

Supports a Bifocal Vision — The inner graphic is an ellipse with two foci giving us a bifocal vision—love to God and love to humankind. “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:34-40). It is only as we love God supremely that we will be able to love each other impartially (James 2:8-13; 1 John 4:19-21, COL 607).

Clarifies Relationships — The model illustrates God’s action of breaking down the “dividing wall” of hostility between groups and creating “one new humanity” in Christ (Ephesians 2:11-22).

Operates on Two Dimensions — The model operates on two dimensions of change: The Horizontal—the individual interactional change dimension (embracing and valuing diversity); and The Vertical—the institutional structural change dimension (harnessing and empowering diversity).

Illustrates Koinonia — This vision or paradigm gives rise to a Christian fellowship (Koinonia) and oneness found in the Early Church, resulting in the emergence of community, symbolized by the outer circle. It is here where our differences--racial, ethnic, cultural, biological, physical, and social—that normally divide us in society, find the level ground of the cross in a spirit and behavior of equality.

Symbolizes Mission — The arrows reaching out from the center and back again are symbolic of our mission to the world to bring people into the fold of fellowship, the church.

Reflects the Gospel — The end result of this model is a reflection of the Gospel in a church fellowship that reflects the unity Jesus prayed for in the Garden. This unity in diversity will reveal to the world a correct picture of God, as a loving, caring, compassionate Friend, the God of all nations (John 17).

The Process: Creating an Inclusive Environment
In the process of restructuring, the church must take further steps to manage diversity by creating a humane, compassionate church environment that celebrates unity in diversity by:
Encouraging members of diverse backgrounds and experiences to broaden their appreciation and respect of each other;

Unleashing the various talents and capabilities which its diverse membership brings to the church: and

Creating a wholesome, inclusive system that is safe for differences, that enables members to reject rejection, and maximizes the full potential of all.

The Goal: The Modus Operandi of Unity in Diversity
This Christ-Centered Model of Diversity in Christian Unity has as its heart two basic goals:
To create a church body that transcends all social barriers of age, class, culture, disabilities, ethnicity, gender, race, etc., and reflects the love and oneness of a new humanity in Christ, while respecting differences, thereby enabling the church to begin living diversity. How Measures? By whether or not the Five Ps of the church--its Perspectives, Policies, Programs, Personnel and Practices--in all its entities implement four imperatives:
a. Reflect the heterogeneity of the church.
b. Are sensitive to the needs of the various groups in the church.
c. Incorporate their contributions to the overall mission of the church, and
d. Create a cultural and social ambiance that is inclusive and empowers all groups.

To develop an inclusive mind set and culture within the church that recognizes, respects and values diversity in Christian unity as integral to the Gospel. How Measured?
a. Through inclusive programs, sermons and literature.
b. Through perspectives, comments, and suggestions that automatically enter the decision process without reminder from under-represented persons.
c. Through a comprehensive evaluation program of Christian practice.

 


 

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