Today I want to start a list of reasons why I think connecting on some significant organizational level is (mostly) a no-brainer, the kind of thing to which we should immediately say, "Of course," on the conceptual level and only turn down if the details would somehow put it off.
First, I should mention that I think the legitimate purposes of denominations are twofold: 1) to proclaim or preserve particular understandings of faith and practice for which God raises groups up and 2) to pool and focus resources toward common goals and purposes. There may be others, but this is my list.
If this is the list, then the following are some of the reasons for significant organizational connection I can think of:
1. It would be silly not to!
Given my two-fold sense of the purposes of denominations, I can't think of any principled reason for us to be separate:
- We share the same focuses of faith and practice and
- We are wasting significant resources by the multiplication of infrastructure between us.
The principle of the unity of the church pushes us to unify in identity if we do not have good reason not to. As far as I can tell, the only reasons not to would be logistical or financial, and surely God has given some people out there enough wisdom to figure out such details.
3. Easier to Fix Things
It is easier to make significant organizational shifts in the process of a merger than to do it out of the blue. I know some people have wanted a single general superintendent for decades. It would never have happened apart from the current financial situation coupled with talk of merger. The same goes for matters of stewardship, apportionments, collegiate allocations, etc. These things generally continue on their merry way until there is a crisis. A merger/organizational connection is a much more desirable catalyst for fixing these sorts of imperfections.
4. Pooling of resources
Each piece of the Wesleyan puzzle has something to contribute. Each has something missing apart. The voice of the Wesleyan tradition hardly seems a major player within Christendom and in that sense we can question whether any of us are truly fulfilling the legitimate reasons for us to exist as denominations in the first place. Perhaps the Nazarenes are a little known (although our condolences on the weird name).
But the rest of us are, to be honest, peons who have little impact on anything. The Wesleyan Church has 1700 churches in North America (big whoop=relatively insignificant) and the Nazarenes, despite having more buildings, apparently only have about twice our attendance in church on a Sunday morning(=problematic). The Free Methodists have interestingly decentralized quite a bit already.
What are some reasons you can think of for us all to reorganize ourselves together in some way? Reasons against?