It's often the case that when someone says “church” we think about a particular building or group of people that gather for worship on Sunday. But many local congregations don’t exist in a vacuum, they exist as an outpost of a community of churches. Whether that’s an association, movement, or denomination local congregations are often one expression of a community of churches.
The multiplicity of denominations can be disheartening for people who long for Christian unity, but they are a reality for the church on earth. But there are benefits to like-minded churches working together. Shared resources for missions, church planting, revitalization, and evangelism can advance the gospel in powerful ways that individual congregations might struggle to do alone.
We know that individual Christians need to be renewed in the gospel. Paul writes,
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2
Congregations, are collections of Christians, so, like individuals, they need to be renewed. And districts, diocese, presbyteries, associations, and denominations, which are collections of congregations, which in turn are collections of Christians, must also be renewed.
Unfortunately, like individual christians and congregations - denominations and associations and districts lose their way. They forget the gospel and become bogged down in procedure, competition, minutiae, and the like.
If we want our presbyteries and denominations to be effective they must have their hope in the gospel applied and renewed in their life as institutions, and they must work to clarify their strategy to fulfill the mission God gave them. It can be done, but it takes thoughtful and intentional work.
Flourish has worked with several communities of churches to become healthier places spiritually, emotionally, and more focused on their mission. We’d love to hear your thoughts, or talk to you about ways to get your presbytery or district on mission. Contact us to open up the conversation.