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The merits of partnership of local churches

Every local church is autonomous and responsible directly to God for its faith, vision, values, finances and leadership. Ideally the self-government maximizes creativity and freedom in each local congregation. But excessive autonomy leading to isolation has no analogy in the Scriptures.

The New Testament church was a dynamic network of interconnected local churches. Their co-operation was not too much organised, but the leaders had considerable influence within churches and among them and contributed to their common success. From among the twelve Peter, James and John stood out as the “pillars” (Ga 2:9), Judas and Silas were “leaders among the brothers” (Ac 15:22), Titus was chosen by the churches to accompany Paul (2Co 8:19). The ability of administration is a spiritual gift (1Co 12:28).

The leaders of the church always played a significant role, they were pioneers in many areas. They were a living example for the local churches and their elders. To that extent that they followed the model of the New Testament apostles they enabled their churches to flourish. They had to be caring, effective and trustworthy leaders with clear goals for the churches. Their personal examples, fruitful work and passion awakened the desire of others to support, join and imitate them.

The merits of co-operation of local churches are manifold:

  1. Effective vision – When the elders (leaders of churches) meet, they usually generate vision for the ministry that exceeds their individual capacities.
  2. Multiplication of resources – When a common goal (vision) emerges in a meeting of elders, they call upon God and address people who trust them. As a result they combine human and material resources for projects that would be far too much for them on their own.
  3. Active mutual care – These leaders care for the spiritual health of other leaders and churches and are willing to help them if they run into problems where they cannot help themselves.
  4. Strategic co-operation – These leaders maintain contacts with other churches and Christian organisations of similar nature at home and abroad and their contribution for God's Kingdom reaches far beyond the confines of one church.