Saturday, July 14, 2007

George Verwer: Denominations or Denominationalism?

"As I have ministered around the globe over the past 50 years people again and again have asked me and written me about what I am trying to share in this letter. There has been more hurt, disunity and discouragement in connection with this than we can ever know. Please try and take the time to read what I am sharing and pass it on to others."

George Verwer

Denominations or denominationalism?

In the ministry of mobilisation we are faced with many obstacles and complexities. One of the toughest is the denominationism which is usually combined with deception and pride.

I am pro denominations (not all of them), but anti-denominationalism. By that I mean the attitude that makes you believe that yours is the only true church group or at least better than all the others. There is a huge lack of reality and humility among such people, especially now with over 27,000 denominations. One group publicly teaches that all others are wrong and the only way is the way they believe and teach. This, of course, becomes cultic and manipulative. There are believers in such groups and we must exercise love and patience because that is all they know.

It is even sadder that many denominations don't believe that God works much outside their group or local church. By the way, some of the stronger church groups don't want to be called a denomination which is part of their judgementalism against other denominations. One group recently produced in their denominational magazine two articles against what they call para-church agencies making all kinds of false statements. This is especially sad as they have some good churches and lots of wonderful Christians. I find these articles (and they are not new) very divisive and hurtful. It is something that I have noticed around the world for the past 50 years.

Without realising they write off as second-class or worse,

1. all mission agencies
2. most Christian radio and TV
3. most Christian camps and youth ministries
4. the Christian Film industry and most internet teaching and evangelism
5. most all Christian literature and Bible Agencies
6. almost all Christian book shops
7. most Christian Conference conventions like Keswick
8. most Christian Relief & Development Agencies
9. all international networks like WEA or
10. all missionary aviation agencies
11. all ship ministry agencies
12. most evangelistic agencies like Billy Graham and Luis
13. Student Movements and Organisations like UCCF, Campus Crusade, the Navigators
14. Christian Arts & Music ministries
15. most Bible colleges or seminaries and other Christian institutions
16. most drug and alcohol rehabilitation agencies
17. many evangelistic efforts like the Alpha course

The list can go on.

It is almost impossible to honestly maintain such a position as it denies so much of what God has done over these 2000 years and what He is doing right now. I know of cases where young people felt the call of God to join a mission event for a summer and were told by their local church leaders that it could not possibly be of God. Can you imagine the confusion and discouragement that comes from such behaviour? As Bible believers we are a minority and on a narrow way. Why do some get joy out of making it more narrow?

The good news is that increasing numbers of churches and whole denominations believe that most, not all, Christian biblical 'so-called' para-church agencies are a vital part of what God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are doing in the world today. There is only one church and all true believers are part of that church.

Walls have come down when those of us in such groups repent of not esteeming more highly local churches and denominations. I did that publicly once in front of 500 mission and denominational leaders from around the world. One of the most crucial things to remember is that many of the mission agencies are responsible for planting thousands of local churches and even whole denominations, like SIM in Nigeria birthing a whole huge dynamic denomination. We could give many other examples.

I have received beautiful letters from people who have apologized for their attitude toward 'para-church' groups and who have changed their viewpoint.

As mobilizers, let's get involved in breaking down the barriers and praying for more workers to be released into the harvest. Let all of us who know Jesus and are heavenbound realise that we need each other.

I submit this hoping that it will increase humility, reality and a great unity of purpose in reaching all peoples with the Gospel.

George Verwer

PS Please feel free to pass this on in any format.

George Verwer

PO Box 17
Bromley, Kent

Email: or

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