It’s Yours But It’s Not

Back in the late 1980s I learned what would sometimes happen when local churches tried to leave denominations riddled with apostasy. Legal wranglings would occur, particularly over ownership of property and buildings.

I learned that often denominational churches which had scrimped, saved, worked, and labored for a building would turn the keys of their meeting house at the dedication service over to a denominational official, who would in turn give the keys back to the church and “let” them use it. This never made sense to me, and it still doesn’t.

I thought that kind of thing was a relic of the past, but it’s not.

It still happens that churches have to pay and work to build and maintain properties, but they don’t have the legal power or authority to sell it if they desire to.

If a local church doesn’t believe in autonomy, the situation essentially boils down to, “This is yours, but it’s really not.”

This makes me so thankful for the doctrine of the autonomy of the local church, a doctrine that I was taught well over 25 years ago and greatly appreciate.

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