Unity—

It was July 24, 2015. After years of praying and planning, Shane Quick and I were in Chicago for the very first OUTCRY Tour. Sitting in catering with all of the teams involved, we welcomed everyone. Shane talked about the tour and our heart behind it, then he turned to me and said, “Ryan, do you have anything you want to say?”

Now this isn’t a question you can say “no” to, even though I desperately wanted to! This was a room full of my heroes and it honestly intimidated the heck out of me. So I nervously blurted out the verse that had been simmering on my mind for a while. Something so familiar to me, but was taking on new life and meaning inside of the context of this tour. Psalm 133.

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!

It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.

It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.

For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

— Psalm 133

Anointing—

Unity causes anointing. And when that anointing of unity hits the head—leaders and influencers in the church—it runs down to the rest of the body.

From unity, God “bestows his blessing.” OUTCRY has been an amazing rollercoaster of growth and impact. But, at times, I feel like we are cheating! Of course God is bestowing blessing. When your heart beats for unity in his Church—his body, his bride—God’s blessing falls.

But your heart must truly be leaning into unity. Not so you can network, or build yourkingdom. It must truly stem from a genuine heart for Jesus and his prayer for us in John 17 to love one another.

Jealousy Over Worship—

This is what I’ve seen through OUTCRY. Every year, one of my favorite things to witness is the teams standing side-stage worshiping and cheering for the other teams. When Elevation is leading, Bethel, Mosaic and Vertical cheers them on. They love, champion and root for each other in an industry filled with competition and comparison.

Johnathan Helser reminded us of something powerful the last night of this tour. He reminded us that our championing of one another flies in the face of something evil. Something pervasive in church culture. Something that caused the first murder in the Bible: Jealousy over someone else’s worship.

In Genesis chapter 4, Cain and Abel made offerings to the Lord. Cain offered some of his crop to the Lord, and Abel offered the first fruits of his flock. The Lord was pleased with Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s. Instead of Cain learning from his brother and growing in his expression of worship, he got jealous. He decided to kill Abel was a better option than for him to grow.

This continues today.

There is a constant jockeying to be the trendiest or most-creative worship team. Worship leaders can drown in a world of comparison and insecurity. The worship team’s success down the street feels like a diminishment of our significance. So we decide to slander and kill one another with our words. We question their motives. We stand in worship with our arms crossed—simmering in the jealousy that began in Genesis chapter 4.

But the minute we buck the system and champion the church down the street—or across the country—something shifts. When we can appreciate the offering others are making with arms raised high, we change. We grow. And the atmosphere changes. Freedom falls. Love falls. And unity falls.

And there God bestows his blessing.

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