Bridge Building: The Pursuit of Practical Christian Unity Among Local Congregations in a Rural Setting
In John 17, Jesus prayed for the unity of his people to be so winsome that the world would be drawn to believe in him. Jesus' prayer has yet to be realized in the practical actions of his followers. The focus of this project is to enable the unity of his people to be practical and visible to the world by building relationships between the Christians and churches in a rural community.
After an exegesis of John 17:20-23 in chapter one, chapter two is about the need for Christian unity in North American culture. Cultural changes, including the moral culture, the transience of Americans, and the technological revolution and its new definitions of community, are creating a desperate need for specifically Christian community.
The third chapter concerns the calling of the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) to Christian unity. A brief history of the Movement and the methods used for pursuing Christian unity reveals both strengths and weaknesses.
Chapter four describes some of the larger ecumenical efforts concerning Christian unity. Special emphasis is given to the evangelical response to the ecumenical movement and to Christian unity itself.
Chapter five describes the hindrances to Christian unity. Founded on a common faith in Jesus Christ, the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. require the church to work cooperatively in mission to the lost world.
The narrative of what God is doing in the village of Sneads Ferry, North Carolina makes up chapter six. As local pastors learn to pray together, trust and love one another, they are developing ways to work cooperatively in reaching their community for Christ. Material on specifically rural Christian ministry is included.
The final chapter includes a model for developing practical Christian community in a rural setting. The model begins with local pastors and extends to bringing believers of the various churches together for practical gospel ministry. The unsaved world desperately needs the Church to demonstrate the visible love of God. The author hopes that others will catch the vision of building bridges of practical Christian unity and apply the model to other communities.