I believe personally, and as the pastor of our church, in participating in the capital "C" church. And I have tried to live this value out. That's why I have put priority on praying with other pastors. That's why I participate in things like the Good Friday Gathering that's coming soon. I believe it's important. Do you? Some do not. After all, different churches and different denominations can be quite different. And let's face it, we often think they're wrong and we're right. But we read scripture like this one below and I believe it applies to us in our church, but also to the broader church.
"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind" (Philippians 2:1-2, NIV).
The uniting factor is our relationship with Jesus Christ. If you, or your church, exalts the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the only Saviour of the world, I can join hands in Christian fellowship with you. If you, or your church does not, then I pray you would. God is still teaching me all that these verses mean, but I have experienced the Christian fellowship between me and another, despite our deep theological differences. We share a like-mindedness and have the same love, because Christ unites us.
So in a practical sense, what do I believe this means.
1. We are not alone. We are part of a movement of God across our city and world. We can celebrate, pray and dream together.
2. Unbelievers see our division and separation..and they are confused. God blesses us when we intentionally come together.
3. Strong local churches make up a stronger capital "C" church. God has called us with our unique history, location, gifting, etc...to reach who He has called us to reach. We make no apologies for working at being a healthy local church. Our focus is here, but our heart is for all local churches to be strong.
4. Coming together makes us stronger. When we come together it makes us stronger, not weaker. And it is a powerful testimony to our community, and a reflection of being united with Christ.
Of course, much more can be said, and perhaps you have more questions about what it means to associate with other churches in our community. My responsibility (practically, spiritually, relationally, etc...) is primarily to our church, Laurentian Wesleyan. But I believe it is important for me, for us and for you to be connected to the broader capital "C" Church. I don't always get the balance right, and I ask for your grace and for your prayer. But I do believe we're stronger together.