There is no such thing as a lone ranger Christian. In the same way, there is no such thing as a lone ranger church. We are part of a Body, designed to work together for the sake of the Gospel. In this article, Michael Morgan gives several great reasons why it is so important for your church to be tightly connected with other churches, specifically addressing why his congregation chose to become part of the Calvary Family of Churches. - Mark
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
2:1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
People have asked me, “Why would Wellspring, a church that was planted over a decade ago, be interested in joining the Calvary Family of Churches?”
The answer is pretty simple: We realized that we can’t do it alone. From day one, we’ve been passionate about the name and fame of Jesus. We want to see Jesus become non-ignorable in our city and to the ends of the earth.
Yet after a decade of laboring, relatively isolated in our little pocket of the city, our leadership team became more and more convinced that not only can we not do it alone — we were never meant to. So, why would we join the Calvary Family of Churches?
First off, we knew it would be way more fun.
What could complete the joy of a person who is already a recipient of all the benefits of being in Christ? Philippians 2:2 suggests that perhaps being of the same mind, having the same love, and being in full accord with other believers could.
Sharing our joy with others only serves to heighten our experience of that joy. As C.S. Lewis says his book, Reflections on the Psalms:
It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you [don’t] care for it (94-96).
“Complete my joy,” Paul says, “by being of the same mind...” Things are way more fun when we get to share the experience together.
It is hard to express how encouraging it’s already been for our leadership to hang out with all the Calvary folks. It has been so fun, so encouraging, such a joy!
Together, we pray for people in our congregations, we hear stories of how God is at work in each others’ lives. We text bomb people who need encouragement. As Lewis said, our joy is incomplete until it's shared.
Second, we knew it would be way more effective.
Here we were, one small church plant in a very large city, saying that we wanted
to make it impossible for people to ignore Jesus in our city and to the ends of the earth.
The task is simply too big for any one church. As Paul said in Philippians 1:27, we must strive side by side for the faith of the gospel. While we’ve been incredibly blessed to be in partnership with other churches and networks since we began, being part of the Calvary Family of Churches is allowing us to go deeper with more intentionality than ever before.
I have been praying for over a decade that God would raise up a new gospel- centered church in every neighborhood across the metro area. After I met with the Calvary leadership for the first time, I came home and I told my wife, “Kate, I think God is answering my prayers. It’s not happening the way that I envisioned it, but it’s happening through these Calvary guys.” I am so thankful to get to see a glimpse of what I’ve been longing for God to do since the day that we opened our doors.
Our eldership began to wonder, “Why are we trying to do this alone? What if, instead of our small church alone, trying to send someone out to plant a new church — what if we were doing it with 8 or 10 or 12 other churches, and we were all doing it together?”
As part of the Calvary Family of Churches, we have an opportunity to be more effective than we’ve ever been, collaborating in church planting, training interns, youth ministry, women’s ministry, not to mention all of the resource sharing — printing bulletins, managing websites, and countless other small details.
Even more, unity in and of itself is a testimony to the truth of the gospel. As Jesus prayed in John 17, the effectiveness of our witness to the world increases simply by virtue of being in unity with other believers.
Finally, we believed that joining up with the Calvary Family of Churches could be way more Jesusy.
I know it’s not a word. Just hang with me.
Right after telling the believers to complete his joy by being of one mind, having the same love, and being in full accord, Paul wrote in Philippians 2:3,
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.
I think one of the main reasons we don’t see this kind of thing happen more often is because of pride. Leaders don’t want to lay down their rights.
Congregations get more concerned with their “identity,” than they are about the name and fame of Jesus. Territorialism, competition, comfort, keeping things the way that we like it, and how things have always been, typically trumps “humbly counting others as more significant than ourselves.” Our own interests take priority over “the interests of others.”
And yet, this is exactly what Paul warns the church not to do. Don’t be caught up in selfish ambition. Don’t let conceit drive your decisions. Instead, the apostle implores us to humble ourselves. And why?
Because that’s what Jesus did.
Jesus did not grasp after His own rights, but He laid them all aside. Though He was in the form of God, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped. He emptied Himself. He took the form of a servant. He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:5-8).
Working side by side with others will always require some emptying of ourselves. That’s what Christ did on the cross. I believe it’s the most Jesusy thing that we could do.
If we had been convinced from Scripture that it’s more Christlike to hang onto our rights, and go after it by ourselves, we would have pulled the plug on Calvary a long time ago. However, after months of prayer and planning, we were more than convinced that this was a good gift from a gracious Father to our church family.
We continue to believe that this is the best thing for our church moving forward — way more fun, way more effective, and a way more Jesusy approach to making Him non-ignorable in our city and to the ends of the earth.
Michael Morgan is the Lead Pastor at Calvary Wellspring in Aurora, Colorado. He also teaches at Gateway Seminary. He loves his awesome family and desires greatly to see Jesus made non-ignorable in Aurora and to the ends of the earth.