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Church: Christians United
Do Christians from different churches ever meet together?
There have always been different ideas around in the Christian Church. The Bible teaches that some things are really important - and on others we can agree to differ. Churches are united in central beliefs – for example, those in the Nicene Creed – and in their central mission, explained in Jesus' final commandment to his disciples:
‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth! Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.’ (Matthew 28:18-20)
In other words, Jesus asked his followers – then and now – to tell people about him and to invite them to follow him and his example. The Great Commission is the number one priority for churches everywhere. The Bible says this about Christians:
'We are all one body ... There is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism and there is only one God and Father, who is over us all and in us all and living through us all.' (Ephesians 4:4-6).
In the UK, Christian churches are putting this into practice by meeting and working together in their local areas, under umbrella groups like 'Churches Together' and the 'Evangelical Alliance'. Churches sometimes cancel their separate Sunday services and meet to worship together in one big venue. They also work together in all kinds of other joint projects - helping the homeless, opening a youth club, organising big events or distributing Bibles.
When Christians from a town, city or even a country meet together to worship God, it helps them remember that ‘Church’ is bigger than their own building or community – that the Church is a group of people God has asked to show people who He is and how much He loves the world. Throughout the year, there are different Christian events that take place where Christians from different denominations meet to worship God and learn about him together. For example, over the Easter weekend, local churches may join together for a walk of witness through their town. Some cities host open air events at Pentecost, to reflect the original events 2000 years ago when the worldwide church was born. Christians from churches across the country may meet together for a Christian conference - for example, Spring Harvest, which is held every year in Butlins venues.
Church is not meant to be only “upward-looking” – that is, only concerned about praising God in heaven. It is meant to be “outward-looking” too. Jesus taught that the most important thing people could do was to ‘love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind’ and to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ (Luke 10:27). An essential part of Christian worship is to look out for the needs of others, and many churches are joining together – in towns, in cities, or across the nation – to help those who most need it in very practical ways. For example, many food banks and homeless shelters are run by 'parachurch' organisations. These are organisations that are not tied to one denomination (e.g. the Baptish Church, or Catholic Church) and operate using volunteers from across the Christian community and beyond.