Every Christian must be ecumenical. That is, every Christian must devote herself to the unity of Christ’s church–a unity that witnesses in the world to the love of the Father for the Son and to their love for those sealed by the Spirit of adoption. Ecumenism is part and parcel of the church’s mission, and it is no accident that the last century has seen an explosion in efforts toward the visible unity of the church and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
The other thing that’s happened in the last century is Pentecostalism. Free churches, with their varieties of congregational polity, are here to stay. But funnily enough, they are often left out in the cold in ecumenical discussion. (Not always. Remember the example of Ralph del Colle, a Roman Catholic who paid attention to Pentecostals.) And yet, it’s precisely free churches–and most strikingly Pentecostals–whose very way of being church presents a fundamental challenge, if also a gift, to the ecumenical movement.
If Pentecostal churches have been owned by Jesus and show the fruits of his presence (and power!), who are we to say anything other than that, in the words of Ignatius of Antioch, “Where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”