Could we minister together? My second comment has to do with relationships among pastors who differ over these issues, taking myself and the four authors as a test case. In reflecting on all that has now been written and said, I have wondered what would happen if, by some unusual work of God’s providence, the five of us somehow found ourselves together in a church where we were the only five elders and where we could agree to share the pulpit ministry equally among ourselves. Would it work? Would we stay together, or would we inevitably form five different churches?
I don’t know what the other authors might say, but my answer is this: I think we would have to work hard to find some "neutral" vocabulary that we as elders could use to refer to certain experiences and phenomena in the life of the church. I think we would have to work hard at allowing a variety of kinds of home fellowship groups with different emphases and different styles (and perhaps different things happening!). I think that we would have to spend regular hours in prayer and earnest discussion together to be sure that the overall focus of the church was on Christ and the advancement of his kingdom. I think that we would have to work hard at letting the congregation know that, though we differed on certain doctrinal matters, we greatly appreciated each other’s gifts and ministries.
But after acknowledging those challenges, and yet knowing these other four men as I do, I really think that it would work. I think that we could live and minister and pray together. I think we could offer pastoral care to one another and to each other’s families. I think that we would frequently know times of incredible depth of intercession together for the work of the church. In fact, if this were to happen, I think that it might even be the most exciting and enjoyable time of ministry that any of us had ever known. And I think that the Lord himself would take delight in it and would enjoy fellowshipping with us and blessing us, and would tell us,
How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down upon the collar of his robes.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the LORD bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Wayne Grudem on "Ministering Together"
In the compiling of the book Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Four Views, each of the four main contributors first wrote their main essays defending their respective views. Next, each one wrote a response to each of the original essays. After this, all four of them, together with editor Wayne Grudem, met together for a two-day closed-door conference to further discuss their views and differences before composing their concluding remarks. At the end of it all, Grudem himself makes some closing remarks. Given the issues being talked about lately within the SBC and parameters of cooperation, I believe Grudem’s closing paragraphs are especially poignant: