Over the next several weeks, my blog will include excerpts from a message that I delivered at the 25th Anniversary Gathering of the PCCNA, in Memphis, in March 2019.
I believe the church of the future will be, and must be, a glorious intertwining of Messianic roots, liturgical rhythms, evangelical expediency, and Pentecostal empowerment
- Messianic roots reach back to the richness of the Old Testament, to our Jewish forebears and their story, encoded in the festivals.
- Liturgical rhythms, along with the Jewish redemptive calendar, guide us to retell our story annually and to systematically revisit basic theological truths.
- Evangelicalism urges us to be missional out of core theology.
- Pentecostalism endues us with the power to accomplish the task.
We are a long way from this synthesis. Now, we are a decidedly divided Church. It has been my privilege, over the last two decades plus, to move across many tribal lines in my involvement in the exploding prayer and city-impact movement. I have been greatly enriched by the friendships and exposure to so many traditions.
I have been privileged to participate in many multi-denominational gatherings, large and small. I have also been in meetings with groups that were feverishly denominational. In such a context, I did not take offense that the group represented itself as God’s preferred best or as His cutting-edge people. When such groups, with me as a guest in the room, often there to speak, reviewed their tribal doctrine and polity, and inferred its superiority, I sat silently without protest. I understood their denominational passion because I have been in gatherings of my own tribe that echoed many similar sentiments.
Tribal/denominational self-esteem is a positive thing, if we keep it in balance and avoid exclusiveness. We must learn to embrace the entire body of Christ – stewarding our loyalty to our immediate community with a multi-denominational openness. The prolific attempts to be non-denominational always end either as anti-others or as another quasi denomination.
We must, especially in the current hour, learn to walk with other movements while celebrating our differences. We can find mutual ground around core theology and common mission. We should not insist on either-or, on exclusively denominational or multi-denominational constructs. We should learn to move in both worlds, cherishing the slice of doctrines that make each of us distinctive, treasuring our unique gifts and callings, relishing our own history and yet, enriching, not diminishing one another.
Core theology is that simple center of Biblical truth that makes Christians Christian. Tribal theology are those slices of truth that make Lutherans Lutheran, Baptists Baptist, Jewish Congregations Messianic, and Pentecostals Pentecostal. Such differences should not destroy us – they should, however, be subordinate to the Christological non-negotiable core. With such differences in view, we must find a protocol that allows us to create synergy in task theology, out of that simple common core of theology, being enriched by our diversities. And, we must also find forums for honest dialogue about our differentiations, neither to dismiss nor homogenize them. True unity demands the full force and flavor of authenticity and diversity.
That being said, there are times when each denomination or movement, a cluster of denominations, must address its own calling before God, its tribal theology, and its common mission. Such a discussion is not meant to exalt that tribal council above another. It is a behind closed doors conversation – and yet, as mature followers of Christ, we should learn from one another’s tribal councils.
This article is the essence of a multi-tribe address delivered at the PCCNA 25th Anniversary in Memphis in 2019. It is intended for the audience of Pentecostal tribal leaders. Hopefully, it will be informative to all who read it.
<Check back next week for more excerpts from this article.>
Want access to more resources like this? Become a Premier Member of the Praying Church Movement>