A Proposal: Intersabbatarian Co-operation
by Craig White
We sabbatarians have been fighting amongst each other for a long time. You
would think that we were greater enemies than Satan. To overcome these problems,
we need to put into practice the Law of God, express the fruits of the Spirit
and the beattitudes.
Co-operation and assisting one another should be the order of the day. I
am certain that we will be able to reach some kind of co-operation without
having to merge Church organisations (unless this was wanted and that is
unlikely at this stage. It is quite natural to want to maintain one's sense
of identity and history without amalgamating).
First, there is the psychological barrier which needs to be surmounted -
certainly at grass-roots level initially. Second, there needs to be a certain
amount of 'seeding' of the idea amongst the laymembership, ministry and
leadership. Finally, the leadership should adopt approaches and policies
which will lead to agreements on how to work together. Accusing one another
of being 'Laodicean' or whatever, is totally unnecessary. Whatever 'era'
or 'branch' of the Church of God we represent, we should act as brothers
and sistersnot treat each others as enemies. Satan, the world and our
own nature are enough enemies with which to contend in this life.
Following are some ideas, which, if put in place, will ensure a high level
of co-operation and harmony.
Goals and Objectives
Seek peace (Matt 5:9; Gal 5:22).
Undertake a bigger Work than otherwise able to do.
Get to know the brethren.
Assist in 'sewing' together the scattered bits 'n' pieces of the Church.
I. Action at the Laymember Level
A. General Matters
Hold in-home Bible studies to break down the myths and suspicions that have
persisted between the groups (see attached guidelines).
Visit each other's churches regularly.
Place each others literature in local church libraries, even if they do differ
in minor areas. In this way the psychological barriers between groups may
be broken down.
Subscribe to each other's magazines.
Make an effort to get to know brethren of other groups and to invite them
B. Modern Communications
If you administer a local church's WWW page, create a link to other sabbatarian
If you administer a forum, regularly advertise other sabbatarian forums.
II. Action at the Elder & Pastor Levels
A. General Matters.
Continually remind the brethren in sermons and conversations that they are
NOT the one and only true Churchbut a mere 'branch' of the Church of
God. Just one administration among many.
Encourage opening and closing prayers as well as sermonette presenters to
mention the other Churches.
Mention the needs of other Churches and the need for prayers of their sick
during the announcement segment.
B. Keeping the Lines of Communication Open
Organise some joint FOT sites. If there is 'middle management' opposition
to the plan, simply ignore them and plough ahead, knowing that this is the
will of God. If a joint site cannot be agreed upon, then sites close to each
other should be sought. Then members should be encouraged to visit each others
sites for services; ministers should give sermons in each others sites; and
joint socials should be organised.
Organise joint summer camps for teenagers and singles.
Encourage members and ministers to visit each others churches.
Occasionally give sermons in each others churches. This will gently erase
any thoughts of exclusivism from the minds of the remnants of those who may
still hold to this premise.
Organise joint weekend socials.
III. Action at the Leadership Level
A. General Matters.
Create a link connection from your WWW page to other sabbatarian WWW pages
to increase the likelihood of people 'visiting' other sabbatarian WWW sites
and it will assist in eliminating exclusivism.
Regularly reprint some articles from each others magazines, in their own
Organise annual meetings of the leaders of these groups to break down the
misunderstandings and suspicion that arises from a lack of communication.
Openly report in detail any meetings or visits with other groups at services
and in the publications.
Where booklets on a given subject or doctrine have already been published
by another group and it is identical in core belief to your Church's belief
on the subject, try and make arrangements to publish that booklet (with their
permission) for your usage. This will prevent the wasting of funds on researching
and typesetting booklets.
B. Keep Open Lines of Communication
Create a mechanism to iron out problems. Regular meetings would allay the
suspicions and gossip which arises when communication is not occurring.
Add a clause to the constitution of you Church which states that you will
attempt to explore peace and harmony with other groups. This will help prevent
extremists from slowly but surely foisting exclusivism upon the membership
C. Creating Means for Affiliations
Congregations and pastors wishing autonomy or holding to a few doctrinal
differences should be encouraged to stay with the main body but 'affiliate'.
The ?CG constitution(s) should have a clause permitting such congregations
to affiliate. One may label these 'outer' conference churches and they would
not be permitted a vote at the general conference of elders.
Other smaller groups which may wish to affiliate/associate/confederate with
?CG should be encouraged to do so. No policies or hard-and-fast rule should
be in place. Each case should be treated on its merits or individual
circumstance. For instance, one Church may wish to adopt the name 'United'
when affiliating, while another would like to retain its name; another may
opt for XXXX Church of God (affiliate of United Church of God) or whatever.
Together we could undertake a big Work again. These 'affiliates' would primarily
be associated with the ?CG to jointly do the Work. Any doctrinal differences
should be handled separately.
D. Handling doctrinal differences with affiliates
Meet to discuss and even research the issue if there are enough resources
Where agreement cannot be reached, peaceably agree to disagree.
In some cases, agree to publish, in the Churches newsletters, both sides
for discussion by all spirit-led Christians for possible prayer and fasting
until a solution may be found.
In 'not essential for salvation' cases perhaps even publish a booklet with
Certainly, an agreement of sorts should be signed between the parties concerning
Greater peace and harmony.
Ability to perform a big Work again.
Growth in love toward other Sab-batarians.
In the end all groups that co-operate will be winners with a bigger Work
being undertaken, more members, misunderstandings corrected and new friends.
Our tarnished images would improve, the sense of rivalry will diminish and
above all we will please our Father.
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