It seems that some of the questions were asked in the spirit of a top-down denominational structure and the tightly controlled centralized authority viewpoint of a religious bureaucracy. Denominations - and in time 'conventions - can become bogged down in structure, rules and regulations, and efforts to maintain 'control.'
A NETWORK is different. In a NETWORK there may be 'leadership,' but they are not any employees of the NETWORK. The NETWORK'S highest authority is the local church. The NETWORK only fosters cooperation between churches through fellowship, equipping and partnership; but the LOCAL CHURCH maintains ultimate authority. For this reason, I suggested to Dwight that we respond to questions about Antioch as follows:
"We do not speak for the Antioch Network. In fact, if you have a specific question about 'women in ministry,' 'baptism,' or other issues, we can only answer you in regards to the way our church views these subjects, but we cannot speak for other churches or pastors in the NETWORK. To know what others in the Anticoh NETWORK of churches think, you will need to call and ask them. There are no 'official' positions on issues that are not laid out in the brief confession of faith. Every local church will have very specific views on these areas of which you ask - but conformity in belief on tertiary matters will not serve as the basis of fellowship in the Antioch Network. The NETWORK'S purpose is to cooperate for the sake of gospel ministry. We have no intentions of forming any new denomination or convention, but to foster greater cooperation and fellowship across racial, economic and demoninational lines within the kingdom of Christ."
I believe NETWORKS like the Antioch Network will continue to spring up all over evangelical Christianity and soon networks may very well be networking with other networks - all the while emphasizing cooperative ministry, and resisting demands for conformity and tendencies toward separatism over tertiary matters. For some reason, this seems to look like what the early church was.
To have a very good, practical view of what a NETWORK looks like, I would encourage you to go read ,a href Paul Burleson's blog. He himself was at the Antioch meeting this week and his down home way of explaining what a network is - and how it functions - will make you realize that a NETWORK is the furthest thing away from a convention or a denomination. I close with one of Paul Burleson's observations on how networks of churches handle differences:
Were someone to join in worship with any one of the fifteen local fellowships represented in that group (or network), they would hear the clear articulation of the variously held views on such things. But this little group of fifteen is not trying to be a local church, a denomination, a religious institution of any kind. They just want to be a part of a few people who want to love Jesus together, give money so that Jesus may become known, and love on one another as different as we all happen to be, and believe me, hypothetically, those fifteen are different.
In His Grace,