We have just posted a new sermon called Inside the Wedding Ring. Here's an excerpt:

I do not tire of quoting Jess Moody who said that people choose a church with their noses. They can smell the joy.

That's as good a summary as I've ever heard. People can smell the joy on Sunday morning. And they can smell the other stuff too. Sometimes it's easy to smell the manure of church conflict. Most of us have had the experience of visiting a new church and without knowing anything about it, we sense that something is wrong inside the church. People look distraught, upset, flat, disinterested, and sometimes you can feel the tension in the air.

During the course of my ministry, I have been on both sides of the fence regarding the "spirit of unity," mostly on the happy side. I know what it is to be in a congregation where the people love each other and where there is a sense of love, joy, peace and harmony. And I know what it is like to go to church when the people don't like each other anymore. I know what it is to pastor a church filled with rumors, gossip and unkind accusation. I've been to church on Sunday morning and felt the tension and seen the angry faces. I know how painful that can be. My experience as a pastor and now as one who speaks in many churches has led me to these five conclusions:

1) Unity is a precious gift from God.
2) Where unity is present, all things are possible.
3) When a church is divided, nothing works right.
4) Unity is easily lost and hard to regain.
5) True unity does not happen by accident. We must pray for it, and we must work at it.

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.