Saving the Churches of Christ

Nearly one hundred Church of Christ elders, preachers, teachers, professors, and college administrators are gathering in Dallas this Friday — by special invitation from ACU’s Royce Money only — to discuss and brainstorm, to contemplate and plan, to pray over the future of the Churches of Christ. Obviously, I’m not one of the invited. I wouldn’t make the cut for the top ten thousand. But I do know a few of the people who will be there Friday. And I’m prayerful and hopeful — even excited —  for some clear-cut vision and suggestions and direction for our little stream of Christianity.

In advance of that ten-hour session Friday and the subsequent reports and papers and speeches that are sure to follow, I was hoping to get into a similar discussion in this space. The invitation here at KK&C is open to all. No RSVPs or hotel reservations required.

Today, I move from “Changing the Churches of Christ” to “Saving the Churches of Christ,” a slightly more provocative heading inspired by the title of Leroy Garrett’s latest book, “What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved?”  Like Garrett, I’m not suggesting in any way that the eternal salvation of those within our Churches of Christ tradition is in jeopardy. Not at all. The concern is with “saving” our Church of Christ heritage — our stream, our tribe, whatever — so that we remain a viable voice for God’s Gospel in our increasingly post-modern, post-denominational, post-Christian world. I think that’s why our most influential brothers and sisters are meeting in Dallas on Friday. They know we need to do something. Something. We need to do something if we are to remain in any way relevant to the larger church and Christianity and Kingdom conversations.

We really do need to change some of the ways we think, some of the things we believe, some of the traditions we practice. We need a deeper understanding of some things. We need a relaxed spirit on some differences we may have. We need a stronger unity on a few essentials. We need to teach some things with more vigor and we need to stop teaching some other things at once.

So, for the next several days in this space, I’d like for us to break down Garrett’s book chapter by chapter. Yeah, I know, we’re not all going to agree with every single sentence or thought. (Good gravy, what book are you reading with which you do concur on every point? Then put that book down immediately!) Let’s engage Garrett with a spirit of unity and brotherly love, with sincere hearts and unblemished motives, with the intent of placing God’s Gospel mission for us ahead of our own comforts. Let’s acknowledge our biases and predispositions, let’s get some of these things out there in the open, and freely discuss in faith and trust how to save this Church of Christ thing we all so dearly love.

We’ll start with Garrett’s first chapter tomorrow.

Meanwhile, be in continual prayer for the group of our brothers and sisters who are meeting in Dallas Friday. May our gracious Father bless them with his holy wisdom and his divine vision. May he guide them. May he protect them. May he open all our hearts and our minds to be receptive to his leading. And may his will be done in the Churches of Christ just as it is in heaven.

Peace,

Allan

6 Comments

  1. Rob's Dad

    Leonard,
    Where to start? The fact that you aren’t there is a concern and highlights to this reader of your blog something a large number of CoC members are semi-oblivious to – the insulated world view that is ACU and CoC-centric. We all have a lens we view the world through that is shaped by our experience however there seems to be A purple haze (sorry – rock me) that stays with some CoC members long after the fact.

    That also carries into how they see themselves vs how the other partS of the Christian world sees them. In a Masters class at Dallas Baptist, a guest lecturer mentioned he was working as a consultant with a CoC in the DFW area and there was an audible gasp from class. These are fellow Christians who aside from the music, believe ostensibly the same as CoC. There was a hum through the class around how weird “they” are.

    As you requested, I acknowledge my bias and predisposition as a good Episcopalian. I will try to purchase this book and look forward to following the discussion.

    #48

  2. Josh

    The first place we should always start is to repent for our sins.

  3. Allan

    Drake, this little conference on Friday is totally on the up-and-up. It’s legit. The few people I know who have been invited include a preacher from one of the most open-minded and forward-thinking CoCs out there to an elder from a fairly (in my view) rigid and sectarian CoC. Granted, that elder is very open-minded and forward-thinking, he’s much more concerned about the Holy Spirit than he is about Law — that’s why he’s been invited. But I’m completely on board with what they’re doing.

    Judging by the excellent books that keep coming out of ACU and the long list of outstanding Christian speakers they bring in for their events from all over Christendom, I wouldn’t say they’re isolated. They see the bigger picture of God’s Kingdom. ACU’s trying. At least they’re trying.

    Josh, have you already read Garrett’s first chapter?

  4. Josh

    Nope, just speaking from experience. Think of the Alcoholics Anonymous program. The first thing we should always do is admit our problem. Judging from your intro I would venture to guess that we will talk about being isolated from other denominations.

  5. Becky Kelley

    Allan, the book can be downloaded from Amazon Kindle version for $.99!!! I had the book on my iphone in less than a minute!

  6. Rob's Dad

    Clarification – ACU might be trying to stretch people while they are there however once they graduate, many ACU grads seem to stay in Good Old Days syndrome and not as inclined to look forward. Not doubting that they are producing excellent books but wondering how many are being read by their graduates (whether they are paid ministry staff or not)?

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