Yesterday, I attended the monthly Arusha evangelism meeting. This is the time each month when representatives from all of the churches of Christ in or near the city meet together. On this particular occasion, I was the only foreigner in attendance with about 10 Tanzanian evangelists. I was fascinated as the men reported on their work and discussed strategies for evangelizing the city.
I could not help but wonder, "Why don't we do this more in the U.S.?" I have attended many preachers meetings in different parts of the U.S., and generally find them enjoyable and worthwhile. However, they mostly are centered on professional development and networking. What if preachers and elders of all of the area congregations met on a regular basis to discuss the furtherance of the gospel in their area? What if they made concrete plans on how to work together and support each other? How much more could be accomplished by conscious efforts to work together strategically? What if EVERY church leader viewed their congregations as teammates in the work of the kingdom, rather than competitors in the race to be the biggest congregation?
Congregational autonomy is one of the hallmarks of New Testament Christianity as we find it in the Bible. But just because each congregation is self-governing, certainly doesn't mean that they cannot work together for God's glory. I am certainly not suggesting that it never happens, only that it would be great if it happened even more.
In the meeting yesterday, not everyone saw eye to eye on every strategy. There was discussion and debate. But in the end, there was unity. The result was that every preacher there committed to spending two Saturdays each month for the rest of the year evangelizing in the area of a new church (Njiro Chini). How many churches back home would like for their preacher to spend that much time working to build up ANOTHER congregation in the area? It doesn't make much sense in an "every church for itself" mentality, but it makes perfect sense in a "let's build up the kingdom!" mentality. Just some food for thought...
How is the unity and teamwork in your neck of the woods?
To see the Gaines’ report with pictures and archived posts, please click here.