What Denoms Can Do
Thanks for Ed Stetzer's recent essay on denominations' continued value ["Life in Those Old Bones," June]. I agree with him that doing missionary work outside a denomination is difficult; I've lost individual support, gone into debt, and at times worked while on furlough in the States. But had I gone through a denomination, I likely would not have been sent out at age 19, and wouldn't have been free to serve where God led.
Although denominational missionaries have retirement plans, savings, and insurance, many are deeply frustrated by the centralized control of how and where they serve. In my experience, the denominational missionaries accomplish much less than the "I hope I have enough money this month" nondenoms.
I appreciated Stetzer's take on "proto-denominations." The rise of these missional networks indicates that God's people still want to work together for the kingdom's sake. If denominations' current challenges move the church away from outreach and ministry, God's people will invariably look for other outlets to join Jesus' mission. My question is, will the proto-denominations eventually replace existing denominations and in essence become the new ones? And, will this be a good thing?
It's a false dichotomy to suggest one is either in a denomination and thus cooperative or is nondenominational and thus uncooperative. Totally independent churches can cooperate as much as they want, and many do in missions. We can have missional cooperation without denominational control.
More important, as a Christian it is incumbent upon me to work and pray for the answer to Jesus' prayer for church unity (John 17). Can we ever argue against that?
It's sad to see believers resort to humiliation techniques ...1