4 reason for local church autonomy
5/23/2006 11:32:00 PM
One thing that Baptists have been adamant about ever since their inception is the autonomy of the local church for a number of reasons. At this point in the game though, it seems as if the Southern Baptist Convention is slipping more into denominational thinking to the point were the denomination, not the local church, is the focus. There are a number of reasons why local church autonomy needs to be preserved. I will try and address a few.

1.) Local Church Autonomy prevents fundamentalism and liberalism from overtaking the convention. These two extremes are possible, and the balance of moderate churches and conservative churches helps keep it in check. If the denomination has the ability to determine doctrine from the top down, one of these extremes is destined to happen given the right amount of time. This is the case of so many other episcopal-type denominations.

2.) Local Church Autonomy allows for greater cooperation with SBC and non-SBC entities. If the denomination chooses who can and cannot cooperate with local churches, then it will indeed stifle cooperative efforts overseas and locally. This has been seen recently in West Africa with two IMB missionaries who cooperated with non-Baptist to plant a church. The church was not "baptistic" so the board nearly fired the missionaries. It should be up to the church to decide who they cooperate with, not the convention or its agencies.

3.) Local Church Autonomy helps keep missions as a focal point of the church. Denominational missions tend to separate missions from the local church making missions into something the churches do. Churches don't DO missions--they ARE missions. If they two some how get separated, then the church is not fulfilling one of its primary focuses: to make disciples of all nations.

4.) Local Church Autonomy allows for disagreement, dissention, and change. Under denominational thinking, decisions are made by a select group of people and handed down to the local church. Anyone who disagrees is chastised or excommunicated. Local church autonomy allows churches and members to disagree with one another. If they feel the association needs to change, then it allows for a forum of discussion, debate, and learning, which ironically stems cooperation. When voices aren't heard because of the powers at be, then churches tend to split, causing schisms that stifle cooperation and ultimately the cause of Christ.

These are just a few points. If I sat around for a while, I could probably come up with a few more. Any additions to this would be appreciated.

tags: , ,

Comments: 0
Post a Comment