Thursday, February 19, 2004
Koivisto: Practical Suggestions
Again, the book is Rex Koivisto's One Lord, One Faith: A Theology for Cross-Denominational Renewal (Wipf & Stock, January 2003 [Victor Books, 1993]):
"As noted in chapter 1, perhaps the most fundamental change needed in Christianity today is a new understanding of the nature of the New Testament church, one that sees the local church as far broader than any single congregation - including all the believing congregations within an entire city or locality. Thus, all the local congregations of a city are seen as parallel to the house churches that made up the local city-church of the New Testament times. As such, the leadership of those congregations (regardless of polity or denomination) make up the leadership of the church in that city, even though they collectively exercise little or no oversight beyond their specific congregation. We urgently need to realign our thinking here." (275)Following is an outline summary of Koivisto's next five pages (277-282), in direct quotes:
"Here are some practical suggestions for developing a local city-church outlook." (277)
This section concludes:
- "First, participating (by financial or personnel support) in the ministries of parachurch organizations, such as Campus Crusade for Christ, Youth for Christ, The Navigators, and others can serve as an effective catalyst to smooth the connections of otherwise independent and non-networked congregations."
- "Second, it is necessary to bring people together.
- "The first priority in developing a sense of the city-church is to foster a spirit of unity and cooperation among church leaders. [...] Things are changing. Regional and city pastors are beginning to support each other, hold area wide worship meetings - even sharing pulpits and developing long-range prayer strategies. [...]"
- "In addition to getting the leaders together, Christians themselves within separated congregations need to get together. Interdenomiational activities need to occur, such as fellowship times, teaching, and worship times. One of the most exciting times in my area was a recent citywide worship service which involved over 13,500 Christians in a standing-room only crowd at the Portland Memorial Coliseum. [...] Great care must be used in these times to not let a specific model of worship predominate, whether it be a charismatic or a liturgical model. Elements from both can successfully be incorporated if handled with a great deal of prayer and careful planning. [...]"
- "A third element in developing a healthy city-church approach is to begin to identify and strategize on some of the unique problems in one's area. Of course, a key set of strategies must deal with evangelization."
- "Fourth, besides the core need of evangelization, local community problems need a corporate addressing by the church in the area. In larger cities, there are social problems such as gang proliferation, political corruption, and racial prejudice. Moral problems such as homosexuality and abortion activism must be challenged. There are spiritual problems such as the proliferation of cults, spiritism, and the New Age movement. And, there are intellectual problems such as secularism and humanism."
"A united city-church can pray together much more effectively and spot areas for specific prayer and corporate action. Three years ago, Mission Portland, the rallying point for the unified effort in the Portland area, envisioned a prayer army of 5,000 prayer warriors to pray for the city. The number to date is 5,368 and climbing. And 18,500 Christians in the Portland area, despite their denominational differences, united to line up along major thoroughfares, recently, to protest abortion on demand by participating in a Life Chain. The secular press, although they disagreed with the stance taken, at least took note of the amazing number of participants. Christians were clearly not a fragmented minority, but a significant voice to be heard. That is the city-church — a microcosm of the church catholic — in action."
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