I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately about the word “unique.” This is due primarily to the fact I keep running into senior pastors, church staff pastors, and other people in ministry leadership roles who are convinced of how unique their church, vision, ministry, tradition, denomination is. While I don’t know if any of them have actually used the word “unique” to describe just how special they are, they are definitely impressed with themselves and their very “unique” place in the kingdom of God.

So what does it mean to be unique in the first place? The word is defined as, “existing as the only one or the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics; having no like or equal; unparalleled, incomparable; limited in occurrence to a given class, situation or area.” You and I both know plenty of pastors and churches that have deluded themselves into thinking their church/ministry fits these descriptions. This thinking stems from a level of arrogance that seems to be pandemic in the American church today. When you add to that arrogance the willful ignorance that causes a person or church to convince themselves they should pay no attention to what others in the Body of Christ are doing, you end up with a fractured spiritual landscape, full of competitive, narcissistic, and un-Christlike churches and ministries who are actually part of the larger cultural problem rather part of the cultural solution.

Some of the common statements of these types of churches include, “We don’t care what the church down the street is doing, we’re going to preach the gospel here (which is typically code for “the gospel according to us”),” or “We are (fill in the name of the church/ministry/denomination) and we have no need to know what other churches/ministries/denominations are doing because they should be copying us, not the other way around.” One of my favorites is, “We’re not going to compromise the truth,” which means those ministries who are doing things differently are automatically compromising the message of Jesus. This would all be funny if it weren’t so blatantly full of self-worship. But, there’s nothing funny about it.

When arrogance and ignorance collide, you end up with the statements and scenarios I’ve just described. The larger issue, of course, is why so many of us claim allegiance to the mystical, universal Body of Christ, but at the same time do everything within our power to separate ourselves from the rest of those who make up that Body. So, with that in mind, here is a brief open letter to all of the “leaders” of “unique” ministries out there:

Dear senior pastor/staff pastor/ministry leader,

I know you think you’re unique. You’re not. Stop it. I invite you to join with your brothers and sisters throughout the rest of Christ’s Church so that together we can all be part of the solution.


Your brother Jerry

Hmmm…unity. What a unique idea.