“For the one who is not against us is for us.” – Mark 9:40
“Denominations will always exist as long as Christians are concerned about both unity and purity.” By this I think pastor and author Tim Keller is saying that if we were only concerned about one of the two, unity for example, then we could all meet together in one church and put all our differences aside. However, if we were concerned with only purity in our theology and doctrine, at the expense of unity, then we couldn’t meet with anyone at all! So what we are left with is a denomination, a balance where we can agree enough with one another theologically to work together and be unified enough that we can live with the remaining differences.
A kingdom mindset in missions (or even within a local US church setting) says that the denominational differences are great enough that my conscience compels me to align with a particular group, but not so great as to keep me from working alongside another because our ultimate goal is the same. There is something unifying within the idea that we are all laboring under the same banner. And it smacks of pride to imagine that our group alone will fulfill the task all Christ’s disciples have been commissioned to commit oneself.
In the preface of his book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis describes a hallway with many doors that branch off from it that lead to separate rooms. He writes that the hallway is mere Christianity and that the rooms represent all the individual churches that originate from the central core of the hallway. He makes an important warning to those that would reject the uniqueness of the different expressions of the kingdom:
“It is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. For that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be) is, I think, preferable.”
What I think we should take away from this well-crafted admonition is that our pursuit of doctrinal purity must always be balanced by the fact that we all entered from the same hallway. We are not advocating an abandonment of why we chose our room to begin with (Reformed distinctives and gospel standards), but rather embracing a truly evangelical mission to establish God’s kingdom in the whole world and in new generations.
“When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.”
What this kingdom mindset will look like from our team is a willingness to cross the hall and join in working side by side to train, disciple, coach, and resource those from other apartments. We actively seek ways to collaborate with other organizations in the Spanish-speaking world to further the vision of seeing churches in Argentina multiply and advance theologically and ministerially for a greater voice in God’s Kingdom.
The church in Latin America needs to learn from the church in Asia just as much as the church in Europe needs to learn church planting principles from Africa. The church in the US needs the Latin American church’s voice to speak into how the kingdom can expand and spread within our ever changing cultural and ethnic makeup. We need one another. The next generation needs the previous one. The PCA needs other voices to speak into it from other rooms that it may express the Gospel in ways that are both reverent and relevant.