Let It Live!

By Anonymous

Editor’s note: Late last fall I asked Dr. John Stumbo, now president-elect of the U.S. C&MA, if he would consider penning a few pages on the future of denominations for the 125th anniversary edition of All for Jesus. Below is an excerpt from his response.

Many voices in our day are predicting the end of denominations. Their woeful predictions are strengthened by a steady statistical decline among a plethora of religious organizations. As we bring to close this book which chronicles and celebrates our own denomination, what are we to say to these foreboding voices? My answer is simply this:

If by denomination you mean an ecclesiastical system entrenched in inertia and enthralled with the insignificant; if by denomination you mean a carefully guarded subculture formed by political maneuvering—with all of its positioning and self-promotion—empowering itself with man-made titles, positions and measurements; if by denomination you mean the perpetuation of lifeless religion, empty and powerless, bearing a form of godliness that is merely a hollow shell; if by denomination you mean anything of this sort, then let it die. Let it die! May the modern prophets’ warnings come true. Like a cheap Easter chocolate, may the waxy rabbit shell—a ridiculous counterfeit image completely void inside—forever reside in some forgotten clearance rack of history.

But if by denomination you mean the eager and intentional cooperation of resources—prayers, ideas, gifts, finances, passions, influences, relationships—for great causes, and if those great causes include bringing lost souls into the forgiveness and life provided in Jesus, and if those souls are taught—by example and word—to obey everything Jesus commanded us, and if those obedient disciples gather in local churches desiring nothing more than to bring pleasure and glory to God, and if those churches—humble, prayerful and joyful—extend their influence into the neighborhoods and nations and the nations that have come to our neighborhoods so that even more lost souls are found; if this is what is meant by denomination, then let it live. Let it live! May we look back on our 125th anniversary with the happy announcement that we’ve only just begun to accomplish the work God intends for us.

To hear more of John Stumbo’s reflections from Council 2013, visit legacy.cmalliance.org

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