My denomination calls itself A Connectional Church, and yet too few of our congregations are connected to each other except for the occasional joint worship service at Thanksgiving or during Lent.
Churches in survival mode do not have the capacity to support the ministries of other churches. (Or they don’t think they do.)
But since the days when followers of Jesus in Macedonia and Achaia reached out to help followers of Jesus in Jerusalem, we in Christian communities have been called to reach out to other Christians to encourage them in their ministry. If I suggested to most congregations that they should support other congregations, many (most?) of them would say: “But we can barely meet our own expenses.“
We are terribly guilty of missing the point. Our purpose is not to perpetuate institutions. Our purpose is to expand the reign of God throughout the world. In other words, we are to make the world “as it is in heaven” – healing the sick, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, visiting the lonely. This is the reason the church exists. Ostensibly, the more Christian communities doing ministry out in the world, the more heavenly acts of goodness will occur.
So how might we be better as connecting?
Note: we are not connected to other churches by merely sending checks their way. Real relationships happen this way:
- Healthy congregations planting new faith communities in under-served neighborhoods and suburbs
- International partnerships connecting churches side by side rather than hierarchically.
- Wealthy congregations wholly supporting the budgets of the poorest congregations and participating in their ministries.
And churches that don’t believe they can possibly start new congregations or partner with others or support ministries that won’t directly benefit themselves? Even they can help by choosing graciously to close and allowing their assets to fund new churches.
Image source here.