Cooperative Ministry among Free Church congregations has become more Corporate Ministry. Frankly, we are in a star system more akin to unregulated capitalism than the gospel.
So, we must begin again.
We are a gathering people in the Free Church and we should gather. We are a cooperating people and we should cooperate. The coming death of state and national conventions should not dissipate our commitment to cooperative ministry. We can move back to the organic metier from which we sprang.
In fact, this is our best, and, I believe, only alternative.
Please stop thinking you are involved in cooperative missions/ministry because you attend another poorly attended, mediocre meeting, led by file clerks, patterned after an outdated corporate model. You might feel like you are in the Hitler bunker at the end of the second Word War, helping move around divisions which no longer actually exist; opposing real enemies with phantoms is a caprice no credible functionary can observe for long.
Please stop thinking you are supportive of cooperative missions/ministry because you belong to a group that once banded together to do cooperative work. To belong to a church will not make you a Christian, any more than climbing in an oven makes you a muffin. To belong to some once formidable grouping that now exists to pay salaries to a privileged few will not make you a cooperative minister/missions leader any more than belonging to a church makes you a Christian.
In point of fact, the old groupings have no monopoly on cooperative ministry.
To be even more frank, cooperative ministry as it is currently portrayed is more corporate than cooperative. We will have to replace the old cooperative ministry model, now a corporate scheme, with connectional ministry models, if our deserving, life-transforming ministries are to survive.
You already believe in connectional ministry, for you are a grouping parishioner. You want something that lives and breathes, rather than something that meets and collects.
You believe in connectional ministry/missions because you understand you can gather for ministry with people who do not parse every Greek noun as you do. The corporate model has to insist on uniformity. You understand things do not grow in rows in nature; man has to plant things that grow in a row. In nature, plants spring up where the seed lands in good soil under nourishing conditions. This is connectional ministry.
We don't grown in a row. Therefore, corporate ministry (nee-cooperative missions) is doomed.
If you can make your ministry plan fit on a page sent out from the corporate HQ, you are in business, not ministry.
You are a connectional ministry afficianado, if:
- you have a broad sense of personal/social responsibility;
- you have a habit of social engagement;
- you identify with those who suffer or need, or those who may suffer or may need;
- you are realistic enough to know leaders should not be set up as gods but you are optimistic enough to believe they do not have to be devils, either;
- you can answer a question with the whole phrase, "I do not know."