(Photo: Saddleback Church via The Christian Post)
Popular speaker and Southern California pastor Dave Gibbons questioned on Friday whether Christians really consider one another "brothers and sisters."
"The reason why the world looks at us and says 'sham' is because we preach 'brothers and sisters,' 'family,' and 'unity' stuff and we actually don't live it," he said, as he addressed some 2,000 pastors and lay believers.
Pastor of Newsong Community Church, Gibbons was among the last of the eight speakers at the four-day Radicalis Conference, hosted by Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church.
As he tackled the topic of "radical boldness," he called on pastors to collaborate as opposed to "doing your own thing."
He spoke of collaboration not just in terms of a once a year joint initiative, but on every level.
What would happen, he posed, if all the churches were to forgo their individual names and just simply called themselves "the church."
"You can do a lot for the Kingdom of God if you forget about your brand," he said.
Strategizing, sharing resources and working with "barbarians" – or people other than the ones they always network with (at the same conferences) – are just some of the ways Gibbons encouraged pastors to collaborate.
Pastor Warren made a similar appeal Friday, reminding pastors that they're not in competition with one another.
"We're all on the same team," he emphasized. "We have to help each other."
Though pastor of one of the largest churches in the country, Warren admitted that his church "by itself can't do a whole lot." The same goes for every other church.
"But tens of thousands working together can do an enormous amount," he said.
Offering support through conferences such as Radicalis and other initiatives, Warren encouraged, "We want to help you in any way. We're brothers and sisters. We've got to support each other."
As the conference was about to come to a close and participants were about to be sent off back to their respective churches, Gibbons presented them with one specific biblical passage that has encouraged him.
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).
"We live in a time where you cannot shirk the calling all of you have," the Newsong pastor stressed. "God has not given you a spirit of fear. He has given you the power of the Holy Spirit."
Not many pastors leverage the power of the Holy Spirit. It wasn't until his 40s that Gibbons realized he wasn't, despite all the doctrine and church growth strategies he learned.
"What does it look like in the church if you believe in the Holy Spirit?" he asked. "Are you listening to him?"
"You're going to burn out," he said. "The Holy Spirit's power – leverage it."