the weblog of Alan Knox

Maintaining relationships among groups of believers…

Posted by on May 12, 2006 in community, fellowship | 4 comments

Over the last few weeks, I have been discussing with some friends about churches maintaining relationships between and among other groups of believers. This applies to those who move to different places, as well as to groups of believers in the same geographical area. The NT indicates that the early churches maintained relationships between themselves. Even though each church considered itself the body of Christ, they also realized that they were part of a larger group. Somehow they maintained fellowship with different groups.

How did they do this? What keeps us from building and maintaining relationships between different groups of believers – even groups with very similar doctrine?


4 Comments

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  1. 5-12-2006

    I don’t know if your final questions are rhetorical or not, but I’d like to submit some possible answers.

    It seems from my experience and observation (and I’ve had lots of both!) that the reason churches have difficulty building relationships with other churches in their own area (i.e., city) is because ultimately in our “corporate” model (and by that, I mean that which is derived from a “corporation” mindset, not “corporate” in the positive sense of the world), every other church on every other street corner is “competition”.

    In other words, even though churches rarely want to admit it, they seek to draw people, even if it is from other churches, into their congregation because that gives a larger money base to work with. I know that sounds harsh, but that seems to be the nature of the institutional church. It needs people to survive, and if those people are going to another church, that’s a loss for the church trying to draw them.

    What do you think?

    steve :)

  2. 5-13-2006

    Steve,

    Thank you for your comments! I would probably agree with you. After discussing this with some friends, we came up with three aspects of contemporary “church culture” that tends to destroy interrelation between churches:
    1) Buildings
    2) Paid staff
    3) Financial commitment to one group

    Any ideas?

    Alan

  3. 5-13-2006

    Yeah. Get rid of all three! ;)

    No, seriously, I’ve only recently been reading your blog, and so I’m not sure how far down this “rabbit hole” you have already gone (if you’ll pardon the Matrix reference — several of us in this situation often use Matrix metaphors because they fit so well!). However, buildings don’t seem to be supported by the NT (we are the temple of God, He does not dwell in houses made with hands, etc.), and although I can definitely see some justification for supporting people who are ministering, I don’t see justification necessarily for fulltime, paid, career ministers.

    With regard to financial commitment to one group, I think this is actually restating the problem. It’s the mentality that one particular group meeting in one particular building are a body unto themselves, and so they keep their resources rather internal.

    Now, if you actually were referring to denominational financial commitment, that’s a whole ‘nother issue, because I can’t find any justification for denominational systems in Scripture, let alone organizations that collect money from their constituents solely for the administrative costs of running a denomination.

    It’s a big problem, Alan. Our perspective of “church” has gotten so blown out of proportion over the centuries (in my humble opinion) that we don’t even realize how entangled the mess is.

    Thanks for the dialogue. Hope you’re able to get some rest this summer from your studies! How much longer do you have at SBTS? If you ever get up to the mountains here (I’m in Boone), let me know, and I’ll buy you a coffee or lunch, and we can encourage one another in person.

    God bless,
    steve :)

  4. 5-23-2006

    I guess you’re talking about the church in America? Because I’ve read about wonderful things happening between denominations in other parts of the world, especially where persecution is present. They bond together to fight their (our!) common enemy.