The view that many nonbelievers hold of the Church is not very high and many describe the Church as divided rather than united, as one innovative pastor found.
"We're not doing a very good job, are we?" Craig Groeschel, senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv, told church attendants Sunday.
With churches competing for larger attendance numbers, fighting over worship style, and a growing number of denominations around the world, Groeschel believes the divisions among Christians is breaking the heart of God.
"I wonder if God ever looks at all of His churches, all the Christian churches all over the world, and asks, 'Why can't you guys come together? Why are you so divided when my Son Jesus prayed 'Father, make them one,''" said Groeschel, who leads a fast-growing multi-site church with campuses now in six states and on the Internet.
Early this month, the Life Church pastor launched a month-long series called "One Prayer," partnering with over 1,400 churches from across the globe in what participants are calling an unprecedented and historic event. The hundreds of churches and their over 800,000 attendants are simultaneously running the series on the premise "If God would answer 'one prayer' for the church at large, what would you pray?" After preaching the first Sunday of the month, pastors are showing sermons from other participating pastors via video, each preaching on what their one prayer is.
Groeschel's one prayer – "make us one."
"What if we as churches across the world became the answer to his prayer when Jesus prayed 'Father, make them one,'" he challenged attendants on Sunday.
The series was born more out of repentance than a passion for unity, Groeschel explained. It was his desire not to be competitive against other believers and to instead be united.
Unity begins with recognizing "one enemy" – Satan, and not the church down the street or in another denomination, the lead pastor said. Having one heart and one purpose will also help unite Christians.
"What would happen if we the Church across the world united and took all the resources that God has given us?" he asked. Within a week, he demonstrated, starvation could be eliminated, every person could have access to drinking water, poverty could be eradicated, and the world "could not only know the name of Jesus, but they could see him if we became one."
By Sunday, the world would worship like never before as they have come to know the glory, power and love of Jesus through his followers, Groeschel highlighted.
LifeChurch.tv is also showing sermons this month from Jentezen Franklin of Free Chapel, Perry Nobel of NewSpring Church, and Ed Young of Fellowship Church.
Young's one prayer for the church is to engage, particularly in the reality of heaven and hell.
"For a long time, the Church talked too much and too often about hell," Young said in his One Prayer sermon. Now, "the pendulum has swung too far to the other side" and churches are preaching pop psychology rather than the Gospel, he says.
"I think the Church has ... done disservice in today's world by not talking about hell enough," he said. When believers engage eternity and begin to see others as eternal beings, it changes everything they do.
"If there's a hell ... we better leverage everything to touch people for Jesus Christ," Young preached. "It should be hard to go to hell because of Church."
About 60 pastors are sharing their messages via video with churches around the world this month. One Prayer churches are encouraging fasting and praying during the four-week series and will further seek to make a lasting impact by collecting a special offering this weekend to help support the planting of 500 new churches in Cambodia, India, Sudan and China.