WHY DOES GOD WANT CONGREGATIONS TO BE INDEPENDENT?
1. Because such develops leaders and members. Even if we could not understand why God wants autonomous churches, we would still need to obey Bible authority. But we can see many good reasons why God's plan for independent congregations is best for the churches.
One reason is that it develops the leaders and members in each church. Whenever the leaders for a congregation are brought in from outside, local leaders will not develop themselves. Whenever the leaders from outside come in and do the work that local members need to learn to do, then this slows down the development of local talent. Christianity should bring out a person's best abilities. God has designed the organization of the church to develop members of each congregation to the fullest extent. If the men in a local church feel that their leaders will be sent to them and their decisions made for them, they do not try as hard to do their own part. Denominational church organizations discourage congregational development. In Rom. 15:14, Paul commended the brethren at Rome for being filled with goodness and knowledge, and for being able to admonish one another. These men had developed themselves in an independent church. But in Heb. 5:12-14, members are rebuked for having not developed themselves. These members had been in the church for a long time but were still unable to teach. They are told that they need exercise or experience in teaching. We learn to teach by teaching. Leadership in the church requires experience. God wants congregations to be dependent upon themselves for leadership so as to develop leaders best and most quickly.
2. Because it promotes giving and working. Denominational plans of finance and organization often require money to be sent to headquarters. But in autonomous churches of Christ there is no such headquarters. The financial plan is for each church to use its own collection in the local work of the Lord or to decide for itself, according to scripture, where the money will be used. This plan stimulates better contributing. The best way to encourage sacrificial giving is to keep a strong need before the members. God's plan for finance in the local church provides this incentive to the givers. God's arrangement likewise encourages more personal interest in the entire work of the church. Every member can see that no human missionary, benevolent, or edifying society is going to do the work of the church. He himself is responsible. If the work is done he must do it. This keeps the responsibility on the local members instead of on some other group. God's plan for independent congregations is the best plan for promoting giving and working.
3. Because it prevents the spread of apostasy. If several churches are tied together,and if one of them becomes rotten and falls, it automatically pulls the others in with it. [Like a rotten apple in a barrel of good apples will soon ferment among the others and cause them to rot as well] But if the congregations are independent and are not attached to one another, if one falls, it does not affect the others. What if Laodicea and Smyrna were tied together in some kind of super organization? When Laodicea went bad it would have pulled faithful Smyrna down with it. God's plan is best because it prevents the spread of apostasy and false teaching. God wants independent congregations because this plan best develops leaders and members, promotes giving and working, and prevents the spread of apostasy.
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