Taking the liberty of narrowing my assigned topic to “why churches in one denomination should work together to advance wider kingdom initiatives,” I offer brief thoughts from a local church pastor perspective.
My first rationale is practicality. Most denominations are already structured for collaboration. Inherently, we are organized to accomplish something larger together, be it for ongoing missional, financial, confessional, or other endeavors. Means of communicating a shared vision via denominational representatives or interpersonally through ministerial relationships can readily occur.
A second observation is that groups of local churches tend to be, in my estimation, underrepresented in significant kingdom initiatives. While scattered individual churches may be involved, many churches remain uninformed. Denominations can marshal interest and resources to help provide an expanding perspective of the Spirit’s work beyond that which a lone church or single denomination can accomplish.
Last, I believe local churches learn best from fellow local churches, especially those situated in a common region (similar ethos, demographics) and/or a denomination (shared convictions, history). Having recently taught on 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, I was struck by how Paul spurred the Corinthian church (in Achaia) to imitate and learn from the more impoverished Macedonian churches concerning giving.
Their ‘peer’ relationship was well-suited for encouragement and emulation. By amalgamating not only their collections, but their practice/attitude of generosity, Paul was demonstrating how they could engage with wider impact. This caused even to greater unity between Jewish and Gentile churches, something beyond their individual local capacities.
The Corinthians, who had formerly been on the vanguard of giving to Paul’s collection on behalf of the indigent in Jerusalem, had flagged in their enthusiasm. In fact, it was the church in Corinth that had been the first to give to Paul’s benevolence endeavor. Yet, the church their enthusiasm and contributions had flagged. Paul is trying to stir them to regain that grace of generosity that had been forded them in times past.
I believe clusters of churches, particularly in a denominational setting, can and should work effectively together to promote greater gospel causes. By affiliation or cooperation in a denomination, we inherently are working together to accomplish among other things, the Great Commission. Hence, the structures, and hopefully relationships, are already in place to extend into other Spirit-led projects and causes.
Rev. Daniel Lee
Church of God