The Freedoms of Independency
Independency means that local churches are independent, autonomous, and self-governing.
We can be a little bashful of this conviction position, but we need to realise that there are a number of advantages that Independent churches enjoy; freedoms that are particularly relevant in our post-Christian modern context.
Free to be faithful to Scripture
Many churches in denominations face battles over key doctrines and local churches have to submit to what the group decides. Independent churches are free from this pressure and free to reflect the teachings of scripture.
In FIEC, our churches are united by our common statement of faith which defines the core beliefs that evangelicals have cherished for centuries. No local church can be forced to adopt any other beliefs.
Free to be diverse
We obey scripture in conscience on a whole variety of secondary issues - we have differences over the mode of baptism, the structure of leaderships, spiritual gifts, end times, and so on.
Being independent is only one aspect of a church’s identity. We are also free to be diverse in culture. Independent churches don’t have to be defined by nationality, ethnicity, class, education, or social status.
Free to be flexible in ministry
We don’t have to do things in an approved way.
Independent churches are free to develop structures, worship styles, and services in the way they believe reflects scripture and is culturally appropriate.
Free to plant churches
Independent churches are not limited by parish structures or restrictive national strategies. Indeed, from the beginning, the FIEC has been a church planting movement, even before such things were fashionable.
FIEC’s founder, Edward J Poole-Connor, identified this planting flexibility as a key strength of independency: “The independent church is better suited for planting in new and sparsely populated districts,” he wrote.
Many FIEC churches today began life as church plants.
Free to appoint ministers
We have no need for external permission to appoint our leaders.
Independent churches can be flexible about the training routes and methods that are appropriate for each individual and church.
Free to partner with others in ministry
We can join easily with others who share our common gospel convictions.
At the same time, Independent churches are not forced to partner with those who do not.
Enjoying the freedom to fail
Independent churches have the opportunity to innovate, to try things, to take risks, because we don’t have an institutional vested interest that makes them risk averse.
There are of course, dangers of Independency too. It would be naïve to ignore them. The dangers of isolationism, lack of accountability and doctrinal drift are real. But these dangers can be mitigated or overcome by Independent churches joining groups like FIEC, something they have done for many centuries.
FIEC itself is only 100 years old, but it exists to overcome some of the disadvantages and enable churches to work together without compromising our valuable gospel and ministry freedoms.