If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. — African proverb
The notion of family often brings up a lot of emotion in us. Most of us have many positive memories of the times in which we grew up. We can remember when it was our family that carried us through some rough patches. Without family providing the warm emotions during our formative years things would have gone much worse than they did.
Family is really about support. We value family when we are young and developing because without that support most of us would not be where we are today.
Then during the busy times of midlife, family can seem to be less important. When we mature ourselves, we no longer value what family provides the same way. This is because of instead receiving support, we now are mainly there just to provide that same support to those who are younger.
So instead of receiving gifts at our birthdays and wedding, we now give to the relatives that are starting out.
This stage is only temporary though, because before we know it we are retired and older, when family once more gains value.
Churches are a lot like people in this respect.
When a church is starting out, there is not a lot of money and there is not a lot of maturity either. There is a lot of energy, and the sense of a bright future, but that positive energy can easily go astray without an older family member who can help guide that energy into maturity.
Then when a church hits its stride, it becomes self-sufficient and really doesn’t need anyone else. At this stage other churches can become a bit of a nuisance really, because they want to work together with you because they need your church, but yours really doesn’t need them.
It is when the majority of the churches in a denomination are in midlife that the question arises about that denomination’s value, and if they are necessary.
At this stage the of churches clear majority really are fine without others, and as such, they quit coming to meetings or supporting the conference which helped to bring them up.
This is where most denominations are today.
We don’t need them, as we once did, so what are they there for?
The answer to that question is only unclear if you fail to see that every church has a life cycle, and that young, new churches need those who are in their prime, just as do the older ones who are now past their prime.
EVERY CHURCH IS SOMEWHERE ON THE LIFE CYCLE, WHICH INEVITABLY ENDS IN CLOSURE.
So, if you are a part of one of those healthy, independent churches, be happy with where you are, but remember that there was a time when another church was there for yours, when yours was young and needy.
Yes, it may have been before you started going there, but that does not change the history, and neither does it change your responsibility to now be there to start and support new churches starting out.
The reality is that one day your church will go into decline and with that will come again the need for a family of churches that will be there for you.
The question will be, what did your church do with its prime years?
Were you there to provide the needed support for those who are now in their prime? Those churches who you may now be looking to for support in your second time of need?
All of us will give account one day when the last chapter is written; how will the book of your church read?
We all need one another, and the lie that we don’t is slowly killing the Church.
Pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. If two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. — Ecclesiastes 4:10-12