Helping Each Other

“Two are better than one…For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.

Times of trouble will come. Our Lord says, “In the world, you will have many troubles” (John 16:33). Troubles are unavoidable, and many churches find themselves in it due to low attendance, city ordinances, dissension, building problems, lack of leadership, etc.

A church may have low attendance and are barely making the bills. What will such a church do if one of their own needs help?

A church may experience a fire incident that destroys their building. Where will they hold their services now? Can they rent AND pay their mortgage?

A church has a pastor, who left unexpectedly and accumulated several unpaid bills. Who would they seek assistance from to help them get back on their feet?

A new city ordinance has put pressure on a local church to bring their old building up to code, but they don’t have the finances to comply. How can they stay open if they can’t comply?

Some churches are part of a network of denominations that can help in these situations. But even if the church is part of a network, they still might not have the help needed. Many denominations now are struggling to keep other churches open and might not be able to assist during times of crisis. Also, these networks and denominations sometimes encourage a monochurch culture, seeing their assembly as the only viable and worthwhile church in a given city or area.

In each of the scenarios above, local churches can come to the aid of other local churches in order to keep the kingdom advancing. I am certain you are thinking of ways to help these churches now!

By keeping as many churches as possible open and viable, including ministering to the community, will help the locale in ways unseen by most. By allowing a church to fall, you may be closing the only soup kitchen in the area. Another may be the one ministering to and praying for schools. Others may specialize in helping single mothers get back on their feet. If these churches fall, will the other churches be able to pick up where they left off? Probably not. The community would be hugely affected.

Churches can help each other and their communities more efficiently when partnering together.

 

 

See The Kingdom Advance Further

Photo by Anna Samoylova on Unsplash

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9)

Here begins a four-part series inspired by John Maxwell’s “Partnership Principles” he highlights in his book, The Power of Partnership in the Church. His focus was on individuals. My attention will be on churches partnering together; that is, to-be co-churches in their communities.

Two are better than one. We see this in the Scriptures played out over and over again:

God said it was not good for Adam to be alone. So He created Eve.

God sent Aaron to Moses to be his right-hand man.

David had Jonathan as a close friend.

Elijah had Elisha washing his hands.

Jesus sent out His disciples two-by-two.

There are many reasons one could guess why God partnered people together. Several are given in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. Verse 9 speaks of a greater reward for work. Another translation says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed” (NLT). When two people come together, they can do twice the work and get the job done faster, or get more return for the extra work. Also, they can strive towards the same goal and help each other succeed in that goal.

Could churches not work the same way?

If two churches come together, their work is multiplied on a huge scale. They can get more done than if they were doing it alone. The one goal every church should have is the kingdom’s advancement. If the goal is the same, why work to build the kingdom only in your own church? Why not work to build the kingdom in both churches? Outreaches and evangelism are great avenues in which churches can partner together.

For example, think about a backpack giveaway to children before school. One church may be able to buy and fill ten backpacks. Another may be able to fill fifty, but the first church wants to be exclusive in their outreach. They will miss an opportunity to not only serve more people in their community but also show the love of Christ in a new way in unity. Isn’t this how Jesus said we would show that we are His disciples: when we love each other? By partnering together, you’ll have a more significant impact in your community—both in the physical and spiritual.

Churches that partner together will see the kingdom advanced further than going alone.

Seek Kingdom

Opera stars were a thing, believe it or not. John Maxwell told this story:

In recent years, opera superstars Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti have enjoyed singing together. They’ve done it frequently, but prior to their first performance the three world-class tenors had never sung together on one stage.
The November 1994 issue of Atlantic Monthly reported that prior to their performance in Los Angeles, a journalist tried to press the issue of competitiveness between the three men. But they quickly disarmed him. “You have to put all of your concentration into opening your heart to the music,” Domingo said. “You can’t be rivals when you’re together making music.”

What a powerful statement. What Domingo said was essentially, we are too busy working on music, the language of the music, the movement of the music, the beauty of the music, that they could not be rivals if they were to perform the best that music can be. Together, they can bring out the best music the world has seen.

Imagine what the Church could do if it had the same mentality. Imagine, if every church was so busy seeking the kingdom of God, living the kingdom of God, and building the kingdom of God, so much that rivalries are not even thought of. If all the churches were truly working for the kingdom of God, there would be no rivalries amongst local churches.

But alas, we are still fallen creatures. We still have pride issues, envy issues. We need to remember the work of Christ in our hearts to weed out these fruit of the flesh and to grow in our spirit fruits of the Holy Spirit. It is a daily sacrifice to live for Christ. It is a daily sacrifice to live in unity in Christ.

Let’s seek out the kingdom of God with such fervency that the lines that divide us blur with our love towards one another.

Have This Mind

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus… Php 2:3–5

I believe the key to the Christian life is found within the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Only when the divine is one with man can man even to think to achieve the abundant life that Jesus promised us.

But, this is not a means to boast, being one with the divine. But, it is a means of humility.

Jesus himself, who is one with the Father, united in substance and holiness, did not count his greatness with God has something to keep. Rather, he humbled himself in obedience.

And Paul tells us to have this same mind.

Pastors teach from these verses exhorting their people not to seek their own glory, their own welfare, above anyone else. As Christians, we are too out not only for our own welfare but also the welfare of others.

It is good that pastors teach these Scriptures, they should be taught more often. However, how pastors usually preach (I am guilty of this myself) is to preach service to those in our immediate local fellowship right along with the world that is lost.

In other words, we preach as if we are the only church in our community – we preach as if we are a monochurch.

But our own fellowship is not the only church in our own community. There are other churches, co-churches for the kingdom of God.

We teach each person represents Christ in the world. The Bible also teaches that the church represents Christ in the world too. Just as multiple individuals represent Christ, so too can multiply churches represent Christ.

Each church is to have the mind of Christ! And what is that mind? Paul tells us here in Philippians.

Do nothing from a selfish ambition. What is the ambition of your church? Do you want the largest church in the city? Do you build it at the expense of other local churches through transfer growth?

Do nothing from conceit. Do you speak ill of other pastors, other churches? Do you live within the idea your church is the only church? The only church worth serving the community? Do you use other churches and community events as a means to build your own church? Your own kingdom?

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Let each church look not only to their own interests, but also the interests of other churches. Some would say this is impossible. You are right. But with God, all things are possible.

In order for churches to live the divine, incarnation life that Jesus Christ has called us to be, we must look to each other, serve each other, in humility and respect.

How Do We Work With Others – Part 2

Recently I have been responding to a post from The Gospel Coalition’s website titled, “When Should Doctrine Divide?” Gavin Ortlund gives us four guiding questions to ask ourselves before we work with other churches.

These are:

  1. What kind of partnership or unity is in view?
  2. What kind of partnership or unity will best serve to advance the gospel?
  3. Do I naturally lean toward a separatist or minimalistic spirit?
  4. Even when I must formally divide from other Christians, is the attitude of my heart gracious, humble, and inviting toward them?

I’ve previously talked about the first two. Here are the final questions.

Do I naturally lean toward a separatist or minimalistic spirit?
This is a question that you need to ask yourself. We each have our own tendencies towards minimalizing doctrine in order to appease those around us, or, making our beliefs a matter of contention and a means of separating ourselves from others.

Do you strive to live peaceably with everybody? Or do you find areas of contention and hammer out your 5 point argument why you are right?
Do you speak the truth in love? Or do you avoid speaking the truth in order to not offend?

Examine yourself against the Lord himself, who still ate and drank with both sinners and Pharisees alike.

Even when I must formally divide from other Christians, is the attitude of my heart gracious, humble, and inviting toward them? There comes a point in our Christian lives when we do have to separate in order to keep the peace. But, when we do part ways, we want to be as gracious and loving to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Never should our doctrines and traditions move us to hate, to belittle, or to minimize one’s standing with Jesus Christ.

If we continuously ask ourselves these four questions I believe that we will stay on the path of loving our neighbour and our God as we look to partner with each other in this dark world.

How Do We Work With Others – Part 1

In a recent post, I pointed to an article on The Gospel Coalition’s website titled, “When Should Doctrine Divide?” I wrote that our different traditions should not keep us from partnering together for the good of our city.
But, the question remains, how are we to partner with other churches of other traditions? Gavin Ortlund gives us four guiding questions to ask as we partner together.

  1. What kind of partnership or unity is in view?
  2. What kind of partnership or unity will best serve to advance the gospel?
  3. Do I naturally lean toward a separatist or minimalistic spirit?
  4. Even when I must formally divide from other Christians, is the attitude of my heart gracious, humble, and inviting toward them?

In this post, I will talk about the first two.

What kind of partnership or unity is in view?
Ortlund talks about relational partnerships among groups and individuals. But, this works also with churches. When partnering with other traditions, it helps to understand the other traditional distinctions that different churches have. You don’t want to partner in a baptismal service if you disagree on immersion versus “sprinkling.” You don’t want to partner in an “End Times” conference if you differ regarding the Millennial reign of Christ (unless of course it is meant to be a multi-view conference). But, you may be able to partner together for a Good Friday service creating a meaningful experience to highlight a Christian holiday celebrated by most Christians.

What kind of partnership or unity will best serve to advance the gospel?Ortlund rightly says this is a hard question to answer. And even more, that we need the Holy Spirit’s help to answer it. Many churches would first ask the question, “How will this advance my church?” But, the real question is, “How will this partnership advance the gospel?” We need to start thinking in terms of kingdom growth, not church growth. How will our partnership best serve the community? How will they see the light of Christ best in our partnership?

Doctrine Divides

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “doctrine divides,” doctrine has become a bad word. But, pick up a KJV Bible and you will find the word doctrine 56 times. Our modern translations simply translate the word as “teaching.” Doctrine is not a bad word. And division is not entirely bad.

The reason we have differences of doctrine between the many different traditions is beyond the scope of this post. But, at the least, the reason is that the Bible is a hard book to understand. And we are a fallen people prone to error even when reading and interpreting the Bible. In another light, the differences of doctrine are proof we take the Bible seriously, and that’s a good thing.

Gavin Ortlund asks the question, “When should doctrine divide?” over at The Gospel Coalition. He warns of two extremes many people take when partnering with other churches of other traditions: doctrinal minimalism, and doctrinal separatism.

Some would discount doctrine altogether, saying it is too divisive. They would say we should all come together regardless of tradition or creed. But, you would need to draw the line somewhere. There are churches who claim to be Christian but are wholly outside confession Christian of the last 2000 years. The extreme of doctrinal minimalism would lead us to partner with religious traditions that are antichrist or even with secular institutions that have contrary to the gospel of Christ.

Separation of the traditions is often lamented. I’ve even asked the question of why there are so many Protestant churches. But, sound doctrine is important. And sound doctrine separates one from unsound doctrine. For example, the Reformation itself was a separation from what the Reformer believed to be unsound doctrine concerning the nature of how one is saved. But, the extreme of doctrinal separatism would cause one church to fail to partner with other churches in the area to reach those who are in need. The larger issues of the city would be missed because we were too prideful to partner with churches that disagree with our doctrine.

When partnering with other churches, we need to avoid these two extremes. We need to work together in ways that do not minimize our traditions and respects them.

Two Heads Are Better Than One

“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22

The old adage, “two heads are better than one,” is true in most situations. Unless you’re trying to decide what restaurant to go to. But in ministry, this truth runs the whole of Scripture.

God said that it was not good for Adam to be alone.

Moses sought out leaders from the people to help him judge the people of Israel.

The kings of Israel would surround themselves with “wise men.”

Jesus sent out the disciples two-by-two.

Paul never worked alone. And when he was alone he didn’t want to be.

You can see over and over again, in Scripture and history having many advisors often leads to success.

So, let’s take a look at the current monochurch culture that we live in. We have many different churches, with many different types of services, with many different types of organization, leadership styles, and administrations, big churches, small churches, different worship styles…etc.

We live in a culture where you can find any church that will suit your style. You can find whatever flavour you want. The consumer-driven culture as gave us cool churches, cooler churches, and the coolest church to choose from.

And yet, much of the population remains unchurched, unreached, and not interested.

If the church is to succeed, maybe we should look to Scripture (Pr. 22:15). Maybe, the “two heads are better than one” adage can be used to succeed in reaching the lost in our communities. If we put our collective heads together, with our years of experience in ministry, it is possible we could reach our communities with the gospel more effectively.

A multichurch culture brings together multiple perspectives about how to meet needs, reach goals, and solve problems. A multichurch provides alternative views that can be more insightful, and deeper than a monochurch culture offers.

 

Pentecostal, Baptists, Independent…We All Need Each Other

A good article from Together for the Gospel called, “Why Charismatics and Calvinists Need Each Other,” speaks of the possible unity between missional oriented Charismatics and theological depth of the Calvinists.

He begins by describing why we are so separated.

This separation has never been more apparent than the present. It’s cause for concern when Pentecostals/charismatics get together in their conferences, read their books, remain in their churches, and never get out of their sandbox… Just as concerning as it is when charismatics stay in their own sandbox, so it is with us Calvinists.

Too often we look at other traditions and believe they are “wrong”, therefore, we cannot work together, worship together, or even converse with each other. We would prefer to die upon our hill of doctrine than to understand the other tradition and see where we have similarities. When we discard whole traditions for past disagreements we can fall into error in our own understanding of the gospel.

As one of my mentors put it, “Charismatics love the fire of God’s power, but sometimes we burn things down with it.” …we Calvinists construct a beautiful fireplace, but sometimes we struggle to get the fire going.

The author is saying that both traditions can learn from each other. We both can strengthen each other’s weakness. Imagine what would happen if we did come together for the gospel?

I am thankful I am seeing more people in the Reformed camp calling themselves Reformed Charismatics.

The goal of this post is not to convince you to be Reformed or Charismatic. The goal is to show you that our traditions should not keep us from coming together as one body of Christ. We need each other! What if the different traditions represent the different body parts of the body of Christ?

Can the eye say to the hand, “I have no need of you”? Or the head to the feet say, “I have no need of you”? Can the Charismatic say to the Reformed, “I have no need of you”? Can the Reformed say to the Charismatic, “I have no need of you”?