CCT Invitation to Local Christian Communities
Christian Churches Together in the USA (CCT) has created a new national space for the most inclusive gathering of Christian churches and organizations in the United States. But the longing and vision that has shaped CCT is not restricted to a gathering of national Christian leaders. CCT has the potential to become a network of spaces where churches, Christian communities and organizations, in local and regional contexts, encounter each other, pray and worship together, and find ways to witness together in our society. CCT offers a new way for churches and Christian organizations to come together in local communities. Perhaps the following CCT signposts can point the way for you, together with others, to create CCT space in your community.
CCT space must be inclusive of diversity
CCT spent some time considering what it meant to be inclusive in the American context. Initially, the participants spoke of families of churches – referring to the major theological traditions (Catholic, Orthodox, historic Protestant, Evangelical/Pentecostal) as a way to ensure that everyone was included. They soon realized, however, that theological inclusiveness did not sufficiently address the divisions among churches in the US context. They needed to address the social/racial issues in order to portray the wholeness of Christ’s body. So they added a historical African American family to the traditional faith families in order to ensure that CCT space engaged all the churches. These five families play an important role; no decision can be made without a representative of the five. This CCT commitment serves both as a discipline of inclusiveness and as a mark of integrity. CCT also decided to include national Christian organizations as well as churches, so that the wisdom and experiences of those with specific ministries were also part of the CCT space.
What is the challenge to inclusivity in your community? How can the CCT space in your community be designed so that each one feels welcome and needed? You might find the “families” designation a helpful organizing tool, or you might find another way to ensure that everyone is represented. Make it your goal to have representatives of the diversity of churches in your community.
CCT places a priority on building relationships, getting to know each other, praying and worshipping together
When CCT established its purposes, the first four focused on “being together”:
(1) to celebrate a common confession of faith in the Triune God,
(2) to discern the guidance of the Holy Spirit through prayer and theological dialogue,
(3) to provide fellowship and mutual support,
(4) to seek better understanding of each other by affirming our commonalities and understanding our differences. CCT space is marked by an emphasis on relationship building.
It is important to remember that the process of building relationships takes time; there are no shortcuts. This may be one of one of the more difficult tasks in our American context of instant everything. Relationships do not necessarily flourish just because people hold meetings, theological discussions or engage in advocacy actions. CCT has experienced that building relationships flourishes in contexts where there is shared worship and prayer, common meals and time for informal conversations.
CCT actions grow out of the process of relationship building and praying together
CCT is not a program agency. It is not doing some action together that brings participants together in CCT space; rather, it is out of being together, that participants discern what to do together in witness to our society. The bylaws mention three specific tasks:
(5) to foster evangelism faithful to the proclamation of the gospel,
(6) to speak to society with a common voice whenever possible, and
(7) to promote the common good of society.
It is sometimes difficult to resist the impulse to do something immediately. As CCT participants get to know each other’s concerns and reflect prayerfully on the needs around them, consensus will emerge around certain actions or issues that all participants feel are important to address together. Many churches or organizations already have effective ministries addressing specific needs. You will want to consider what CCT can contribute that is unique; in what ways does its broad and diverse participation offer a new perspective, a new approach to the issue?
CCT decisions are made by consensus
The consensus model for decision making ensures a careful process of listening and discussing; it grows out of, as well as strengthens, relationships among participants. Participants have three options with regard to any proposal: 1) agree, 2) disagree, or 3) stand aside (not in support of the proposal but will not block it). All participants have either to agree or to stand aside for any proposal to be adopted. The participants could also agree by consensus to decide an issue by majority vote or to issue majority and minority opinions. At no time should participants have to sign on to any statement with which they disagreed.
Welcoming others into CCT space
CCT space welcomes churches, Christian communities, and Christian organizations in the USA that:
- Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior according to the Scriptures
- Worship and serve the One God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and
- Seek ways to work together in order to present a more credible Christian witness in and to the world.
This simple theological basis has been sufficient for CCT at the national level. It may work for your local community as well, or you may decide that your context requires something different.
CCT space offers many benefits
Christian Churches Together provides a context – marked by prayer, worship and fellowship—in which churches can develop relationships with other churches with whom they presently have little contact. This is one response to our Lord’s Prayer that all who believe in Him might be one with God and with one another so that the world would believe in Him as God and Savior. CCT offers the possibility of face-to-face relationships with participants across denominational/Christian community lines or racial/ethnic divisions. As participants grow closer together in Christ, differences are better understood and commonalities affirmed. In praying and studying the scripture together, spiritual resources are deepened and prophetic voices strengthened. There are new possibilities for shared witness, new coalitions formed among churches on various issues. CCT, out of its commitment to grow closer together in Christ, offers a significant and credible voice in speaking to contemporary culture on issues of life, social justice and peace.
The CCT initiative can come from anywhere
Is there a space in your community where all Christian churches feel welcome to come together for prayer and worship? Where Christians from all denominations/families get to know and understand each other? If not, you may be the one to take the first step. Gather a few persons to pray and reflect on what CCT space might mean in your community. Invite others to join in as you continue to meet, pray together and build relationships.
CCT can become a network of spaces where churches, Christian communities and organizations encounter each other, pray and worship together and find ways to witness together in our society. We would like to hear about initiatives in your community to create a CCT space. Please share your experiences, concerns and ideas by email to Rev. Carlos L Malavé or Val Ruess or talk with any of the Steering Committee members. Grassroots initiatives and ideas can influence and deepen the national conversations, and the national conversations can enlarge and strengthen local initiatives. We will learn from each other!