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Just as there are Radically Individualistic people, there can be Radically Individualistic ministries. We are not talking about a ministry that has a specific vision and mission and is staying focused on what God has given them to do. This is a good thing. God calls each ministry to have a unique way of fulfilling His desires.
There may be several churches lead by the Holy Spirit to reach a certain group of unsaved people in a certain area, in a specific manner. Each of the churches will have a unique way of reaching the lost. With a variety of churches, a variety of people will be reached. The danger is when the program, the mission, or the vision becomes more important than the people the church is trying to reach. What is worse is when a territorial spirit rises up in the church-“this is our turf, so stay away from our people”. “We have been sowing seeds into people’s lives for years, and we don’t want anybody else reaping the harvest”. “Our way of ministering is the only right way.” “Your church is not in our denomination, so we will not work with you to reach the lost”. Of course, this is never said, but the actions of the Radically Individualistic Ministries represent these statements.
More important than denominations and programs is the saving of souls. How many more people could be reached with the love of Christ if the denominational, prideful walls would come down between the Body of Christ? What would happen if the number one goal of churches was to reach the lost, instead of building the biggest church, or having the most members, or getting recognition in the city? The “our church is better than your church” mentality needs to be gone from churches. God calls us to unity, so we can have a greater impact in our community.
Examples of Radical Individualism in churches:
One church wanted to baptize some new converts. They went to three different churches to use their baptismal tank and the church was refused. The church was told “you are in competition with us”.
In one area a church had an excellent biblically based counseling program. Another church wanted to have its own counseling program because theirs would be better and they did not want to ‘lose any sheep’. The problem was they did not have any qualified counselors and their counseling program became a shambles.
An individual offered to pay for the rental of a bus to take the homeless to an excellent evangelistic crusade. The person working with the homeless refused to help because they did not like ‘big name evangelists’. What they failed to realize is that many people get saved through ‘big named evangelists’. And they were not seeing people come to Jesus in their own ministry.
A ministry was putting on a one-time event on a specific day of the week to help reach the lost. They approached another ministry to see if they would like to help out with the event. The other ministry said no, because they already do outreach every week on that specific day of the week and they needed their people at their outreach. This ministry every week has over 50 volunteers, and yet they could not spare a couple of people for a one-time event.
In one city there are several independent groups that do prayer walks for the city. It is suggested that maybe some time the groups could get together to do prayer walks together as the Body of Christ. Here are the responses: “We only pray with those who are in our group”, “The others are too charismatic”, “The others are not charismatic enough”, “We have our own area that we prayer walk, we don’t prayer walk in other areas”, “We have our own divine strategy, we can’t let others in”. There may be truths in each of the statements, but the root is Radical Individualism. What they are really saying is: ‘Our way of doing things is more important than being in unity with the Body of Christ to pray for lost people’.
The us and them (us is our church, and them is the other church) mentality within the Body of Christ needs to stop. I live in the Pacific Northwest. It is one of the least evangelized areas of the USA. The only way people are going to be reached effectively is when the Body of Christ works together as a team instead of as Radical Individualists. In our next nugget we are going to speak on the subject of Biblical Unity. We are going to explain the difference between unity and conformity.
Copyright © 2002 Richard D. Dover. All rights reserved.
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Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations used are from the New American Standard Version (NAS).