The Importance of Relationship between Church Denominations.
The state of relationships across Christian Denominations often reveals a sad picture of division and antagonism that demonstrates to unbelievers that they are correct in their denial of spiritual attributes.
There are, however, some wonderful examples of increasing closeness between diverse Churches that encourage and motivate those who strive to achieve such fellowship sometimes over years of attempting to do so with little apparent success.
Within the County of Lincolnshire with its hundreds of villages there are usually Churches that meet under the description of Methodism, Anglicanism and so called ’New Churches’. The picture is often one in which within a short distance of each other, the three groups meet on Sundays and during the week without reference to each other’s contribution to Kingdom Growth and Mission. And I am sure this is the case all over the United Kingdom. The immediate perception of unbelievers can often lead to confusion as to how ‘entry’ to Church can be achieved.
The experience of Grace Church in the small rural setting of Scotter with a population of some 2,500 is now enjoying the beginnings of a feeling of warmth between members of the three constituent Churches. In Scotter there is a Methodist and Anglican congregation along with our own ‘New Church’ flavour.
On the downside, there are a few persons within the three groups that will probably never be able to put aside differences in worship style and doctrine. To some the organ, the pew and formality are hard to live beyond even for a short one off ‘Sunday get together’. To others, the beauty of different liturgy is an exciting and uplifting experience.
To a degree, we have been able within a Churches Together setting to break down a significant isolation and conflict between each of the three groups of Saints. We meet together a few times each year and leave our traditional venues in deference to each other’s customs and practices. As one Methodist local preacher from the Village has boldly and bravely stated, ‘There are three congregations and only one Church in Scotter’.
There is no doubt that cooperation between Churches takes a lot of hard work, prayer and persistence. Leaders need to lead, encourage, be convinced in their own conviction to motivate, and not to be disappointed with slow progress. Cultural issues sometimes take years to overcome but we are sure that the Lord’s agenda is to see His Bride as ‘One’ as He expressed in John 17.
Above all, leaders of various Church groups must be able to recognize that no one can possibly have the monopoly of Truth.
The day may come when political forces and sheer subtle legislation in the United Kingdom force us all to leave our respective ghettos and be subject to a ‘wake up call’. Is it possible to really attempt to anticipate that day, whether it comes or does not come, and to enjoy the sheer delight of putting aside our differences and allow ‘winds to blow on our stock notions?’.(Matthew Arnold).
May He help us and guide us into His will and pupose.
Dr John Birch.