How do you go about unifying two congregations into one?
The intensely individualistic local church idea has to be rethought and possibly even rejected in order for it to happen. This product of modernism has bred distrust and disunity in the Church, and it is the biggest obstacle that has to be overcome.
Consider Jesus’ words:
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. [John 17:20-22]
This passage is quoted often, but it needs to be considered here. Jesus makes a blanket statement – those with him (the apostles) would produce later generations of believers (that’s US!) by their word (the New Testament). And he wants us to be not only one with one another but also with those who came before and with Jesus and the Father themselves.
All of this goes back to Jesus’ opening words in this prayer:
Father…glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him…I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world…” [John 17:1-2, 6]
Here are some concepts that need to sit in the forefront of our heads as we work toward uniting Grace Baptist Church and Heritage Baptist Church:
- The church was called out by the Father, given to Jesus – it is appointed by the Father AS CHRIST’S and God does not create disunited things
- The church is called out by Jesus’ manifestation of the Father – it is divinely united
- The church is united in the Apostles’ WORD – the New Testament – not through a congregational identity.
- The church has one message, the Gospel of Jesus Christ – we must continually refine our conversations by this standard.
We simply do not have the privilege of disunity. These are words for the Church, not just within individual congregations. We seek opportunity to be united, not to divide. As two congregations brought together through God’s providence, we have an amazing opportunity to be living testaments of Jesus’ prayer.