Related to the 2006 Plan for United Cooperation
1. Why do we need a statement of belief?
The use of belief statements can be both positive and negative, but our heritage tends to focus on the negative. This sincere posture seems to be derived from times past when religious America was so convicted about many things, and matters of opinion people divided over trivial points. At its inception, the Restoration Movement took on creedalism, by rightly championing the Bible as the ultimate authority. We hold, however, that early-on a posture of suspicion about all things written has become a significant liability in this post-modern, stand-for-little world. There are many more of us who have greater concerns of the consequences of not stating our convictions than we do of putting them in writing. There are also many brothers and sisters who are wondering where different congregations stand on specific issues of practice and doctrines.
While no one is suggesting a creed, we are therefore advocating a break from the anti-statement thinking and encouraging our churches to be consistent and clear on their most pertinent convictions. To help with this, we have included statements that are in agreement with our shared beliefs. The following reasons indicate why we advocating such statements. 1) The apostolic church and succeeding generations expressed core convictions whenever it was called for. 2) We live in a time that requires greater clarity, and the anti-creedal DNA of our heritage actually makes it harder for us to stand for something in this age. 3) Others will misrepresent us if we do not represent ourselves. 4) Declaring them in advance hinders those of hidden belief systems from rising up in times of uncertainty. 5) The consensus among our fellowship is for us to stand together for greater truths and cherished values and to express them honestly.
2. What exactly are you asking us to sign up for?
We are simply calling for those churches that are unified on the statement of beliefs, general practices and connections to begin the process of functioning as a stronger and more unified brotherhood.
3. Do you have a plan for meeting needs and challenges that go beyond a church’s regional grouping?
Yes, each regional group will send representatives to resolve those needs and challenges that will arise (through prayer, Bible study and discussion). A chairman and an agenda committee would be selected by those representatives to serve in that capacity for a period of two years.
This committee would organize and prioritize the ideas and concerns and facilitate the coordination of smaller subcommittees that would then make presentations to the general assembly.
6. How would those needs and challenges be put on the agenda?
Any representative from a participating church could submit a proposal to the Agenda Committee. Currently so many needs have gone overlooked or been neglected that it will take some time for this group to catch up, so to speak.
7. What if a church decides later to join or not participate?
The door should never be closed for a church to later join or withdraw their association at anytime for any reason.
8. How should those churches be treated that choose not to sign up?
There may be many different reasons why some churches may not sign up. They are still our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we need to continue to respect, love, and cherish one another in the Lord.
9. Would our church ever be coerced to give up leaders, people, or money to other churches or mission efforts?
No. These coercive practices are not respectful, loving, and considerate and must never be tolerated. Great respect and love must be freely given between congregations that both give and receive training and input.
10. Would churches ever be required to give a specific amount to mission’s support?
No, we do not believe that any amount should ever be given under compulsion (2 Corinthians 9:7). Certainly appeals would be made as needs come up, strategies are formed and consensus is formed.
11. Does our commitment of the older women training the younger women mean that the women must be paid staff?
No. Although that may be preferred and encouraged, the commitment is not one of compensation, but believing that women have a God-given ministry with other women—one of training, counseling, and studying with other women.
12. Does “remembering the poor” mean that our church must give to a particular charity such as HOPE Worldwide?
Not necessarily. While we encourage our churches to remember the poor around the world and appreciate the tremendous impact of HOPE Worldwide, those decisions remain with the leadership of the local congregations.
13. Are you saying that this fellowship is against members being romantically involved with and marrying non-Christians?
Yes, because God has made it clear that he is against it.
14. What if our church supports most of the shared beliefs, but not all? Should our church, then, ratify this plan?
No, that would be problematic and even nullify the purposes of having a plan. There are many Protestant denominations that could state that they agree with most of these shared beliefs. Part of ratifying this proposal is to recognize those congregations that still share these long-held beliefs and convictions and are committed to carrying the gospel message to every person in every nation.