In the Lord's work as in anything else in life, there are essentials and non-essentials. There are the loadbearing features and cosmetic for-appearance-only aspects.

If we don't know which is which, we're in big trouble.

In the late 16th century, the mayor of Windsor engaged architect Christopher Wren to design and oversee the building of a town hall. When it was completed, the mayor refused to pay the bill, insisting that it needed more than the few columns Wren had designed. No matter that it was pointed out to him that the columns were holding up the building just fine. He wanted more columns and would not pay until they were installed.

Christopher Wren had several more columns added to the building. Each was identical to the first ones he had installed, with one exception. Each lacked one inch going all the way to the ceiling.

Some of those columns were load-bearing and others were cosmetic.

It's a wise church leader who knows which is which in the Lord's work.

Here is my list of "six load-bearers," six essentials which we must get right in the Lord's work or it's all over.

Please let me point out up front, these are not arranged in the order of priority. This is to ward off letters I sometimes get from debaters and arguers that B is more important than A, that C should be higher. I suggest, somewhat impishly, that he should have read the article more fully, because I said in the body that there was no particular order, that they are listed as they occurred to me. Anyone who writes learns quickly that some people prefer to skip the reading of the material in order to get on with criticizing it.

1. SUBMISSION

"...be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)

"...Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account...." (Hebrews 13:17)

Yes, followers are to submit to leaders. But -- and pastors should not miss this -- leaders are frequently to submit to their constituents.

To submit means that when you and I disagree, one of us willingly and freely gives in to the other. No coercion, no pulling of rank, no holier-than-thou lording it over the other.

A pastor submits to his members when he has been severely hurt by something a member does, but when that member is in need, he shepherds and nurtures him/her as though he would rather do this than anything in the world.

A pastor submits to his members when he has a grand vision but he can see that they are not ready for this, that he has to drop back and scale down his approach.

A pastor submits to his members when he puts his personal plans on hold in order to act in the best interest of the Lord's people.

In other places on this website, we've written of the Sons of Diotrephes (see III John), those leaders who refuse to submit to anyone or anything, and the trouble they can cause.

2. UNITY

"...being diligent to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:3)

In the Garden, Jesus asked the Father, "That they all may be one... that the world may believe that Thou didst send me" (John 17:21).

When a church -- much less the larger body of Christ! -- is not unified, everything grinds to a halt. Evangelism is forgotten, nothing gets done, members spend their time bickering and fighting, the godly among them are exasperated, the hurting and needy are neglected, the enemy rejoices, the devil has a field day, and the name of Jesus is blasphemed among the heathen.

When a church is unified and everything else is in order, the work goes more smoothly, people are ministered to, Christ is honored, God is exalted, and the enemy is defeated.