Should churches work together in doing work for the kingdom of God?
Having all things in Common
The primitive church in the first century shared all that they had with the rest of the church, the body of Christ. And by their benevolence and unity, God gave increase to the church. Luke writes about the very first gathering of the saints of God and writes, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” (Acts 2:44-45). Churches and even individual Christians may have differences, but we should put these differences aside and work together for the common good of our communities. We all have the same Father and as His children, He would expect them to cooperate. We have the same mission and purpose, so why shouldn’t churches work together? With the church so unified in the first century, it was said that “day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47).
Unifying for God
The psalmist gives all Christians and churches an admonition in writing “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity” (Psalm 133:1), and indeed, it is good. When churches pool their resources and members, they can join together in a common cause, and that is to seek and to save those who are lost (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 1:8), but there’s so much more to it than that. Jesus gave us marching orders for the church in Matthew, saying “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matt 25:35-36). Churches can work together and help feed the hungry, make strangers feel welcome in church or on the streets, give drinks to the thirsty, and visit those who are sick and in prison. That’s what James calls “pure religion” (James 1:27). When we do these things for others, Jesus says, “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt 25:40). On the other hand, by not doing these things, Jesus rebukes those by telling them who did nothing, “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt 25:45-46). Even though we’re not saved by works, we’re saved to do good works that God has prepared for us to do (Eph 2:10), but if we don’t walk in these or do these good works for God’s glory, then we are that lazy, wicked servant who might think they’re Christian, but find out to their horror that they’re not (Matt 7:21-23).
Many smaller towns have what are called, ministerial alliances. These alliances are where churches work together for the common good of their communities, pooling their resources and feeding the hungry, dispensing clothing, helping those who need help with school supplies, and also filling in during community emergencies. We are certainly stronger together than we are individually, and we are greater in capacity than we are in individual churches. Many hands do make for lighter work, and the joy we felt when our church joined other churches in working for the same purpose made us feel that we are all unified in the faith, in purpose, and in the pursuit of doing the work of God for His glory. There was no division and no boasting about which church gave more. We all had the same mind. We all had the same purpose, and we realized that we could all do more together than by ourselves as one church. When the Apostle Paul heard that there was a famine in Jerusalem, he gathered together collections from the various churches in the area to bring to those who had lost virtually everything. The generosity of the churches in giving was so great that it was said that they had to be told to stop giving. Such were the hearts of these churches, as if they were knit together by the Spirit of God, and indeed they were. There was no rivalry and no one claimed to be superior over the other churches. They had the same purpose and cause. That’s all that mattered.
What you can Do
If your community, city, or town doesn’t have a ministerial alliance, why not start one? It may be that the churches in the area had never thought to work together before. Maybe it had not occurred to them to pool their resources with other area churches so that they could all serve their community in a more comprehensive manner. When churches join hands, everybody wins. There is no room for division in the body of Christ. Each and every member and church are needed. Don’t let the fact that it’s never been done stop you. Don’t allow pride to set in and keep us from working together. We have a common cause and purpose because we have in common the same God.
Should churches work together? By all means, yes! Why not? What’s stopping us from joining together and ministering to those around us? We can do a lot more together than we can by ourselves. We are stronger together but weaker by staying separated. Be bold. Encourage unity in the community and see where that takes you. Join or start a ministerial alliance. Don’t settle for the status quo. It’s not enough. We need to put hands and feet to our faith as the body of Christ ministers to those who are hurting and those who are lost. It really is “good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity” (Psalm 133:1).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.