Some churches are very proud of their independency and even incorporate the word into their name. But it’s not really the right word. What they are trying to signal is that they are self-governing and not part of a denominational structure, whether perhaps episcopal or Presbyterian. That’s fair enough. But I still argue that independent still isn’t the right word. For a start, any church worth the name recognises that it is entirely dependent of God, God’s word and his Spirit. “Apart from me you can do nothing” JOHN 15:5
And surely the word ‘interdependent’ better characterises a healthy relationship between local churches than the word independent. We are not called to build our own church empires or denominational empires – we are called to build Christ’s kingdom. With this perspective we should not think of the church down the road as our rivals – but as partners and co-labourers in the gospel. We should speak well of them and rejoice in their successes and do whatever is possible and practical to work in partnership with them.
Paul’s greetings as he opens his letter to the Romans is not to some narrow denominational group or to an individual fellowship – Paul writes, “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people” ROMANS 1:7
How beautiful to hear Paul using these most inclusive and most expansive greetings. And it is a challenge to us also – to do whatever we can to foster and express the unity of all who are loved by God and called to be his holy people.
Simon Ladd – Partnership Regional Coordinator (Midlands & East Anglia)