The Ex-Church of Christ Support Group

Did you know there is an ex-church of Christ support group online? I think this is pretty interesting because there is much we can learn from mistakes, misunderstandings, and our differences. You can find anything there from ICOC horror stories to all sorts of discussions on doctrine. Another interesting section is the “New Paths of Faith” section to find out how people are answering the question, “Now what?” or “Where do we go from here?” It is very important we understand people, why they come, why they stay and why some leave.

On the other hand there is a lot of sad information on this website. Lots of horror stories, splits, disunity, anger, and the like. It is an important reminder and wake up call that we are dealing with the most sensitive areas of people’s lives and that we must move forward in a way that is honoring to God but also sensitive to others. I am proud to be associated with the Churches of Christ but like any other religious group there will be mistakes made or things that could have gone better. Hopefully through all that we learn lessons rather than ignore them and learn how to be healthier as individual Christians and as congregations.

More and more I am seeing the trend of bash the one you’re with. I think it is important to realize two things in all of this:

1 – The church is beautiful, fulfills an important purpose in the world, and is bought with the blood of Christ.

2 – The church is composed of people who aren’t perfect yet and because it involves flesh and blood there will be problems from time to time. It is important we learn to walk through those problems in ways that are healthy and build up the body rather than tear it down.

The temptation is to think some other group does it better or that if we just leave this church or that church that things will get better. Bottom line, the church is the church and God doesn’t intend for us to reach perfection this side of heaven. That is no excuse to do things as we please and injure as many people as possible along the way. But it does mean that we live in tension. So in the mean time we rejoice and we groan all at the same time. But in all things we seek reconciliation with God and others in order to be who God wants us to be and to bring life and godliness to as many people as possible along the way.

62 Responses to The Ex-Church of Christ Support Group

  1. Mark says:

    Hey Matt,

    I saw this a couple of years ago. On the one hand, I started thinking, “I should take notes”, but on the other hand, so much of this stuff is just so negative, I’m not sure it helps more than it hurts. You’re right. People are tossing out all kinds of babies with old bathwater without considering the implications of their actions much of the time. There is no denomination that doesn’t have members who are critical of it. And even if we adopt all of their practices to do what they do, we’ll discover a whole new set of problems and things to complain about.

    I’ve personally had a positive experience in all the churches of Christ I’ve been associated with. I’ve had things happen in each of them I wasn’t pleased with, but I have yet to see the bad outweigh the good in my own experiences.

    I still have yet to find a group of believers whose teachings and practices more closely resembles what I find in the Bible than do the churches of Christ. Some of us do better than others, but when we’re practicing what we’re preaching, I feel very good to be where I am.

    Mark

    • mattdabbs says:

      Agreed 100%
      Very well said.

      • CHURCH OF CHRIST NO 76 MBAISE ROAD ABA
        PO.BOX 5753 Aba ABIA STATE NIGERIA
        POST CODE 450001
        PHONE +2340888319385

        Dear brethren,

        i need all your support,
        greeting to you in the name of Jesus Amen.
        How are you together with your family and the church over there.
        I hope all is well. please iam sorry to bother you all with my little problem. Iam a preacher of the gospel i work with this church but the money they pay me as a preacher is very small
        even to feed my family and to pay for my house rate is not enough. because this church is very few in number there collection is not much.so i need your personal help and support. to enable me do this work because this area still need light the true gospel.
        Just help no amount is too small. i also need some materials for teaching.
        Also preachers bible for my study. you can send this money through western union transfer .

        TO BROTHER NTIEJU .O. .EKWENSI
        STATE ABIA
        CITY ABA
        COUNTRY NIGERIA.

        QUESTION TEXT PREACH,
        QUESTION ANSWER GOSPEL,

        PHONE 2340824373136
        ZIP CODE 23401

        Then mail all the details to me to enable the bank here give me the support.
        Let me hear from you soon because iam in need.
        THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU.
        YOURS BROTHER IN THE LORD
        NTIEJU .O. EKWENSI

    • Ed says:

      I heartily agree with the article that’s posted above. I myself had visited the ex-church-of-christ-website. If I were a younger Christian, I would have lost my faith too. But I am not a younger Christian, and I think I have bottomless patience and equally bottomless love for people of this sort.

      These disgruntled members who call themselves the ex are actually the unpaid bills of our fellowship.

      All I can offer for them is prayer, not an engagement in some blame game. We have had too much of this already.

      Once I had tried to restore a disgruntled member of the church whom I had taught and baptized when I was still his minister. Doing so takes a lot of effort, a lot of time (five years), a lot of understanding. Finally he came back, but joined another of our fellowship groups–same church, only different preacher, different members.

      What turned him off was the attitude. What changed him was also an attitude, only better.

      Thanks for allowing me to post.

      Brotherly yours,
      Ed Maquiling

    • Bob Spainhower says:

      All this discussion seems to miss an inspired approach — Priscilla and Acquilla’s approach to a brother with incomplete spiritual knowledge; Apollos of Alexandria. In private they taught him more completely the word of the LORD (on a very difficult topic, Baptism). In the process we just might discover some of our own inconsistancies.

      Bob

  2. preacherman says:

    I attend the Church of Christ.
    Have been a minister in the churches of Christ but things have got to change.
    I like my heritage but am also ashamed and embarrassed about what the church of Christ has done and some even continue to practice.

    I can understand this group..
    The church of Christ if not careful can have alot of cult like characteristics. Stating that they are the “one” true church; “Only Ones Saved” “excommunicating those who disagree with doctrinal issues” or “fellowshipping only within Churches of Christ”; “Labeling fellow preachers as false teachers such as Max Lucado and others”; “Limitting the Holy Spirit”; and countless other things that many times brings the church of Christ under the catagory of cult. These cult like characteristics have got to change! We don’t like the termonolgy cult but alot of churches of Christ would fit into that catagory. I have post on cults if you would like to see if your church of Christ fits the results.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Kinney,

      Some of that still exists but it is few and far between. Just because a handful still don’t get it doesn’t mean the rest of us are doomed, out of touch, or are a cult.

      • Wiley says:

        You don’t live in rural Texas! It’s still a common view among the smaller CoC’s in many rural communities where many congregations are only 50 to 100 members. Many of these small churches are populated by senior citizens who have consistently drawn their theological views from preacher training schools such as Brown Trail and publications such as “The Spiritual Sword”. Positive change comes very slowly in the small CoC’s. My wife and I have to drive 35 miles one way to be a part of a CoC that doesn’t fall into the “Old Paths” category!

    • breathe says:

      Great post. Just stumbled across this, I agree 100% I am also ashamed of how the Church of Christ has acted, we bully with the scripture, send people to hell, judge harshly, and preach one true church (of which I have been guilty). That’s not our job. And the dis fellowship letters…

      • mattdabbs says:

        Sounds like you have been through some tough stuff. I am very sorry to hear that. I would like to hear more of your story. There are all sorts of theories and educated guesses about why people leave. What was it for you…pretty much your list above? What did you do after you left?

      • breathe says:

        I have not left, I was raised in coc and I still attend. I have witnessed these things, and when I read some accounts of ex coc members of how they were treated, it was eye opening. It makes me feel ashamed at how some of the churches acted toward their members. Originally I was curious about the decline in attendance in the churches in my area. I’m 40yrs old. I realized most of my church is 50 and up, and most of the churches I have visited have the same make up and started wondering why there aren’t more younger people 20-40. I think what I listed above has something to do with it

  3. preacherman says:

    I know not all believe this way.
    I am not saying that the rest of the church of Christ is doomed, out of touch.
    I am saying if they claim to be the “one” true church, fellowship only within themsevles, believe their the only ones saved then we need to change these characteristics because they are cult like in nature. If we try to play on fears and emotions to get conversions and manipulate then we need to change. I can understand why those who have been abused by the Church of Christ have this support group. No we aren’t perfect. We should strive to be authentic in love, grace, mercy. Praise God for the churches of christ that have changed and are continuing to change.

  4. Terry says:

    My wife and I were forced to leave a congregation 15 years ago because the elders wanted us to publicly condemn instrumental music. I’m guessing that they suspected that we wanted to add instrumental music to the worship assembly since my wife became a Christian among the independent Christian Churches. Of course, we were not interested in promoting instrumental music, but we were also disinterested in condemning the Christians who had led my wife to Christ. However, the elders made it clear that we were not allowed to simply attend services. We were forced to leave.

    I understand the hard feelings of some who have been abused. It’s difficult. In the back of your mind, you may always have a contingency plan for the next time you are rejected by a church. You may always look at a few other churches of different backgrounds as possible safe places if you are forced to leave again.

    In our case, we found a Church of Christ that was willing to accept us. I hope that others who have been hurt by abusive leaders can find a Christ-honoring, Bible-believing church in which they can experience some degree of healing, too.

    • may says:

      “found a Church of Christ that was willing to accept us” Does that sit well with anyone?!!!
      You are a Christian worthy of Him. Do not ever let anyone have you feel otherwise. As for the term “the Church” it is His church and can exist within many congragations of other denominations as well – not only the Church of Christ. To believe otherwise is to judge other believers – that sort of belief is what Jesus dedicated so much of his teaching to – better understanding that we are all called unto Him -

      • Lori says:

        This is well stated May. If the church of Christ doesn’t change some of its views about being the “one true church”, and understand that there are saved in other faiths, it will continue to see a decline in attendance.

  5. Clint P. says:

    Wiley is right about rural TX. Living in a small west TX town can be very frustrating, but this is where I am and the people I go to church with need love too.

  6. Roger Butner says:

    Just curious, Matt, and I mean no disrespect in asking. In the spirit of your post, and as a “former Church of Christ member,” still very much a member of the body of Christ: In your points 1 and 2, when you said “The church is…” were you referring to the Church of Christ denomination (I know, I know – The Church of Christ is “not a denomination!”), or were you referring to the universal body of Christ?

  7. wjcsydney says:

    I have a friend in small town Oklahoma who was horribly abused by his church. He refuses to enter another church building as long as he lives and his faith walk is now very lonely (his wife is a believer but of no spiritual support to him) And there are NO grace-based CoC congregations nearby anyway, and his life long conditioning will not allow him to consider another “denomination. So I really DO understand where those on the Ex Church of Christ list are coming from.

  8. Steve says:

    I’ve remained in the CofC. I lost my faith in the old style of CofC teachings some thirty five years ago. But, I figured with books like Voices of Concern and Mission Magazine, that we would eventually join the modern world and change. And I waited patiently while learning and modifying my views on a lot of things. Well, the change has been glacial. At least most people in our fellowship now would allow that there are Christians in other groups. And I suspect that while most prefer acapella, they would not view that it is a sin that would condemn others to hell. But, even so, the most “liberal” CofC churches seem to fit with Conservative Evangelicalism. And that doesn’t fit where I think we should be either.

  9. WARNING opinion about to be stated….. It is my opinion that the majority thought within rural American Churches of Christ is one that could be well stated by simply saying, “if you aren’t in my fellowship you will not be in heaven.” I certainly hope I am wrong but I fear I am not.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Dell,
      Do you think the difficulty arises from the inability of smaller, rural churches to hire people with graduate education or at least some sort of Bible degree? I am not meaning to say you can’t be competent without that but it certainly does help. If a church is only able to offer a parsonage and a small stipend for full time work or needs their minister to be bi-vocational, then I can see how this type of doctrine and attitude could be propagated.

      • ozziepete says:

        Matt, I think that is a bit of an issue. IMHO, Higher education tends to expose us to competing thoughts, whereas preaching schools tend to pass on “the truth”. So when they preach they share what they know which may come from a deep well, but necessarily a very broad well.

        Another factor I don’t see mentioned here, is that many of these churches started by people leaving other denominations. That is, they were convinced of the errors of the Baptists, Methodists, etc, so they joined the church of Christ. That can often be a painful move as other family members were left at the “erroneous” church. When a new young preacher comes in saying there are Christians in the other church even though it teaches things he doesn’t agree with, they wonder, “Well why’d I put myself through that anguish? I could have just stayed there and still be saved?” So there’s resistance to change because the status quo came at a cost.

        It’d be like if the North “won” the civil war with all its loss of life, but then 50 years later turned around and gave the south its independence. What was the point of the war and all those lives sacrificed for the cause? It’d never happen. I think a significant number of people have a similar experience within the Church of Christ.

  10. Mike Hildreth says:

    Hello friends,

    Having read this post and the comments below it, a few thoughts come to mind and I would like to submit them to this blog in a brief response.

    In my limited knowledge and humble view, I believe I have seen the two “sides” within the brotherhood and have a clear understanding of where both are and how they have arrived at their conclusions. I have witnessed the utter disregard for pure Bible teaching on “the left” and the massive anger, hatred and pride on “the right”. We have to put away these godless characteristics before we make an attempt at unity.

    Perhaps, what is wrong with this picture is not our doctrinal view but our perception of where we are and where we should be, as the church universal. We find ourselves in the conundrum of “who is in the church?” in order to satisfy our desire to know who we may establish or maintain fellowship with.

    We are starting in the wrong place. Going by titles or signs on buildings is not the Biblical approach, at all. We need to go back to the words of Jesus in Luke 8: 21. If we can unite behind this premise, we will have the same kind of fellowship that Jesus had striven for.

    Question:

    Who is…

    1) Hearing the Word of God (i.e. listening to Jesus)?

    2) Doing the Word of God (i.e. obeying what Jesus taught when He was on earth and through His Holy Apostles whom He gave His Spirit)?

    The ones who fall in these Christ-given categories are within “our” fellowship.

    Oh, and another thought: Is it important for us to know and love this Body of believers? What did Jesus say about knowing His people (John 10: 27)? What did he DO when it came to loving them (Acts 20: 28)? We need to know our brethren and love them if we are to be like our Savior.

    If we cannot agree on these fundamental principles of Christian fellowship, we can never have unity.

    Mike Hildreth

    • mattdabbs says:

      The problem comes it at #2. People have all sorts of different interpretive frameworks/hermeneutics that lead them to believe they are doing what God said, when in fact some of what they are doing might be quite the opposite. So to back up, another question to ask is “What does God’s Word say?” That sounds like a silly and simple question but the answers people have come up with have certainly divided Christianity and let to all kinds of strange practices (the doing).

  11. Mary says:

    Not to point out the obvious, but if the church of Chrst was doing a “jam up job” of loving it’s members/neighbors/fellow humans, there would be no need for sites like the exchurchofchrist website. Just because “Christs” moto was “love your neighbor as yourself” does not make true. More damage then good has been done in the name of “Christ” by people who profess love for him, but seen to find pleasure in judgeing harshly those who don’t believe B/C/V, exactly as they do. Where is Christ in that kind of warped and twisted thinking?

    • mattdabbs says:

      Mary,

      Can you name a denomination that has never hurt a single individual in any way, shape or form? Can you name a single congregation that has never hurt a single individual in any way, shape, or form.

      My point is, to single out the Churches of Christ as if they are the only one with these issues would be disingenuous as best. We all have our issues. Hopefully we learn from our mistakes and do a better job next time.

      • may says:

        interesting how you looked toward other denominations to make the CoC more tolerable.
        Just curious – I’m from the South – Has anyone driven thru the main path thru most any town and counted how many Church of Christ churches there are???
        Within a 30 minute drive thru TN. I counted 6! Not too uncommon in those parts – just check the phone book. My point is that these members are not planting so that others may know Him, they simply can’t get along so they reason it out and start another church! So much of the mess in the CoC has absolutely nothing to do with the bible or Jesus. It has everything to do with the will of men and their own self-richeousness! I understand that each congregation stands alone and conciders God to be the lead – who are they kidding! You factor in human nature and this is not a practical plan – there is no leadership that is not corrupt by human nature – even with the best of intentions.

      • Doug says:

        Realize this is old, but there is a difference in hurting someone a preaching false doctrine.

  12. Mary says:

    Yes many people have been hurt by many different religions, the problem I have with the Church of Christ is it’s inability to accept responsibility about how it has treated it’s own members and other “christians”. When one “religious” group claims to have all the answers, all the time, for all the people on the planet, that is about having power, and being RIGHT. Christ was not about being RIGHT, he was about love. Love thy neighbor as thyself… not once have I read in the New Testament, ” bash thy neighbor, into the ground because he uses music in religious services”… the list could go on and on, but I will stop here.

    By the way, thanks for asking. It is a point not lost on me. Many, many people from many, many different religions have experienced persecution. That is why I am so very gratefull to live in a country where I am free, to live and breath from religious persecution!!

    • mattdabbs says:

      Mary,

      Sorry you have been through a lot. I will say it depends on where you are, which congregation you are in, etc. I have been in the Church of Christ my entire life and have never heard anyone say they had every single answer or that anyone who disagreed with their view on any single point was hell bound. Granted, some may believe that and even some people I know may believe that but just never said that in my presence.

      There is so much variety in the Churches of Christ today. I am afraid many people are living in the past. For instance, the congregation I am now a part of is really healthy and moving in a good direction and yet I hear people complain about how things used to be 40 years ago as if it was still going on here. But it isn’t. That doesn’t mean those issues aren’t present somewhere or that you didn’t experience them…this is just something I have noticed that people carry a past stigma of Churches of Christ based on something they haven’t experienced in 25+ years.

      We are not the only ones in the history of Christianity who have struggled with these issues but I will say our lack of governance/organization makes these things varied from congregation to congregation. So to broad brush Churches of Christ as this or that isn’t really that fair. But that doesn’t negate your point that problems exist here and there and should be addressed. I don’t fear the truth but try to learn and grow.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I hope you hear all that I am writing in the tone of utmost love and respect. Tone is hard to tell in hyper-text on a screen. God bless.

  13. Larry says:

    I’m part of a small church plant that decided not to put the label ‘church of Christ” on our fellowship since we are in the south and many “unchurched” folk in the area have had negative past experiences with our mostly well-intentioned brothers and sisters. I’ve been surprised at how many wounded CofC people have found us and journeyed with us for a while. We didn’t set out to be a hospital of sorts, but apparently there’s a need. True, every denomination has this problem, but I don’t see us (or them) facing and dealing with the problem. BTW, I miss your facebook page.

  14. K. Rex Butts says:

    I know the history of the Churches of Christ is paved with both amazing moments and terrific mistakes. I applaud the good and hope never to repeat the bad. But I have also lived long enough to know that if I leave one church and join another, the church I left just improved its health and the church I joined just went downhill a little more because I am a redeemed person who still is fight the battle between the Spirit and the flesh…between the self and the cross of Jesus. But I am not leaving the Churches of Christ, so all my fellow broken brethern in our fellowship…you’re stuck with me :-) and to all my other fellow Christian in those other tribes…you can breathe a sigh of relief :-).

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

    • may says:

      You sound very confident in your own self – clear you have placed quite a bit of importance on where you are a part of. The CoC has the reputation that it has because it has earned it – good and bad. Some groups have made changes, but twisted doctrine remain, edited scripture, emphasis on tradition rivals biblical law, “works and deeds” trump GRACE and legalism typically rules. Fear guides/bonds many to its groups. You are imperfect? Congrats! – You are exactly why God sent Jesus. Please remember that you are part of His story. The people you are around are not nearly as significant as the One who calls you. The primary function of a church is to worship God – I think many have lost sight of that. “other fellow Christian in those other tribes” would welcome you – NEVER LET FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN BE YOUR GUIDE. ***Grace is an amazing thing – freedom and healing like you can not imagine. I hope you allow yourself the opportunity to go where He calls you – you know exactly what I mean – you are not fooling anyone, especilally Him-
      Embrace the journey – you will never regret it!!!

  15. Chier Akueny Anyithiec says:

    Thank you for making this website for people of God to meet there and discuss the words of God and His will to the people of the world, however I would like to join to be one of the members.

    I am South Sudan leaving in Uganda, studying in Bishop Stuart University , Mbarara. I am a good christian who is link to Christ the lord and I wish to link my self too to the rest of the world.

    Thanks again.

    Chier Akueny Anyithiec

  16. John Jansen says:

    My dear Brothers and Sisters,understanding the true meaning of the “church” for which Christ gave His life, needs to be fully researched and investigated. The Text Book the Bible,is the Christians only hope if we are do the will of our Heavenly Father.(Matt.7:21) The church is not a hard and fast rule application as some have supposed, a sad and legalistic approach. The “church OF Christ” signifies possession, or belonging to, in the original language. Some have even argued that suffering humiliation is not required today .I Love the church and have been through many trials to reach where I am today but I will never be able to fathom how God could be so compassionate about rebellious, arrogant and sinful man to sacrifice His only BEGOTTEN Son and subject Him to the cruellest of deaths on man’s behalf to save him from eternal death or separation from God..The words “church “have been misunderstood, “discipleship “abandoned, “Love for our fellowman ” rejected by selfish ambition of ones who are ignorant of Gods righteousness by replacing it with their own. First one has to understand What the church is and ,the magnitude of Christs sacrifice and unless we search out the height ,breadth , the length and the depth of Gods love, we may not arrive at what God’s will for man is . Study is a command, Go and make disciples is a command, yes.. If you have left the church for which Christ died you have no hope of salvation, it means really you may not have understood, or been taught by a teacher who himself never understood the importance of the church and we’re not talking about a building with a name on it’s walls… But the spiritual body of Christ. Please do not be offended but search out for yourselves,there are concordances,Bible helps,and plenty of resources online…so I beg you be sure you know what the church of Christ means before you write off the idea of leaving True christianity. It has been in man to depart from God’s way from the beginning of time, so if needs be, start a group from your home, but do understand the importance of the “Ekklesia” which is the translation for the assembly of Christians collectively. Please check our website “truechristianity.faithweb.com”, and give us some feedback. May the God of heaven, who raised Jesus from the dead pour out His blessing of understanding and wisdom to give you insight to His marvellous love of forgiveness and Grace and at the end Eternity, and please remain faithful to His word ( John 12:48-50) May God Bless You!.

    • J.D. says:

      John,

      Thank you for embodying the very reason people leave the COC. Your self-righteous diatribe is exactly what’s at the heart of the COC’s problem.

      Let it never again be said that the COC doesn’t preach that it’s the only one going to heaven. John has just said plainly what has been said by others for years.

    • may says:

      “If you have left the church for which Christ died you have no hope of salvation…..”
      I had to read your post several times – what a pompous, arrogant, judgemental statement. To anyone who reads this, please understand – salvation is not tied to any “church”, it is only thru relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that you are saved. The resounding theme of the bible is really very simple.
      Love of the Lord. We are not worthy of anything – it is only by His mercy and GRACE. When you complicate what you believe the message to be, who are you really serving? Is this not why God sent Jesus – to save us from ourselves???

  17. John Jansen says:

    MOST OF ALL PRAY!!!<PRAY !!!PRAY!!!! Talk to Our Father in Heaven!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and the GAL 5::22 WAIT UPON THE LORD! ISAIAH 59:1

  18. Mary says:

    I guess I believe in the “Universal church”, probably in another life had I had opportunity I would be Catholic. But alas I grew up being told that ALL “catholic’s were hell bound. So today I believe that there will be many, many, different people in “heaven”. and some people will be surprised by the fact that they are using instruments and other things we cannot fathom here on earth to glorify God.. I wonder will heaven be like a Dr Seuss Book? Now that would be a fun place to spend eternity!! : ) The vastness of God’s ability to both heal and bring judgement is awesome beyond words. I give God the glory from rescuing me from such a demoralizing and twisted environment and experience, of having been raised in the “church’s of Christ”, loosely affiliated with the “Universal church”. And yes, the Catholic Church has it’s faults, many, many faults.

    • may says:

      salvation is not tied to any “church”, it is only thru relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that you are saved. The resounding theme of the bible is really very simple. Love of the Lord.
      We are not worthy of anything – it is only by His mercy and GRACE. Many denomination “get” this. If you have left the COC, you may want to check out PCA congregations (at least their beliefs). it is a great place for those of us who are recovering from legalism and healing from the wounds of self-righteous teachings.

  19. Josiah Tilton says:

    One of the amazing things about the word of God is that you can read it today and find something you never thought of before and you can read the same passage(s) tomorrow and find something else you never thought of before. Truth is bigger than we are and we will never know it all. Because we don’t know it all we often make statements and hold to beliefs that we later discover to be wrong. Once we discover we have been wrong we have to decide what we will do. Will we change or will we hold on to our error?

    The rich young ruler came to Jesus asking what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. When he found out what he needed to do he went away with his head bowed in sorrow, because he was NOT willing to change. Notice that Jesus did not offer him another option. Jesus let him go his way. Was Jesus a legalist? Has Jesus given any laws/commands that He expects us to obey? If we obey them and teach others to obey them, does this make us a legalist? (I’m not talking about trusting in our ability to obey to get us to heaven. I’m talking about John 14:15, 21) We demonstrate our love for Jesus by our obedience. Remember James telling us to show him our faith without any works and he would show his by his works. He was telling us that we cannot show faith without works. The works don’t save us, Jesus does, but the works demonstrate that we are part of Christ.

    Among these replies to Matt’s initial blog, it has been said that salvation is not tied to any church. Yet God says this: “And God placed all things under his (Jesus JBT) feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Ephesians 1:22-23 Note: The body of Christ IS His church. If you are in Christ you are in His church. Define church any way you wish, but understand that IF YOU ARE “IN” CHRIST…YOU ARE “IN” HIS CHURCH. Also NOTE: The church/His body is “the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.” This is profound…

    The church is not just some little thing. It IS the fullness of Christ. We have to be very careful when we dismiss something as unimportant. If one cannot be saved outside of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:3; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us IN CHRIST with every spiritual blessing…” It is IN Christ where EVERY spiritual blessing is found) and the BODY of Christ IS His church, then one cannot be saved outside of the church. (I’m not trying to define what the church is – other than the body of Christ – I’m only trying to point out that the church IS essential to our salvation.)

    Here is a truth we all realize: We do not agree on everything. We (none of us) know it all. Remember when Jesus was asked (Matthew 24:3) “when will these things be?” and He answered (Matthew 24:36) “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” Jesus was telling them and us that He was ignorant of the exact time when those things spoken of would take place. If Jesus could be ignorant of something, don’t you think we could be even more so?! Since we are all growing in truth and know that we know so little, shouldn’t we be patient with each other?

    I believe what I’ve said here about the church is truth and I will believe it until someone convinces me otherwise or I study and find out I am just plain wrong. If I believe it is the truth, should I teach it or keep it to myself? If you read what I have read and you are convinced it is the truth, should you make any changes or just hold to what you have said about the church?

    Josiah

    • may says:

      In reference to the “church” – I clearly meant denomination as she was stating about Catholism. The Church is significant if it is of what Christ intended. When it is corrupted by men, it is simply wrong and does great harm to those who are committed to it. I think we all get that. The Church of Christ doctrine may profess to be the only way to heaven (as many profess it is the only one true church), but I think Jesus would be wounded by this – I know many have sat thru sermons or had this inferred in many ways.
      To study theology, not doctrine is very eye opening to this believer. You can pull out many passages to justify whatever point you want. What did Christ come here to do? REALLY????? It is soooo simple if you don’t clutter it up with rules – keep in mind of how He responded to those who held so fast to the “rules” when he was here preparing to die for us.
      We are called to be with Christ. Our behaviors will exhibit that – through all we do and choose not to do (God lets us know the difference). God’s mercy and grace = salvation – please do not get that confused with works and deeds.
      We are all God’s works in progress – existing to do His will.
      THe Church is significant and extremely important.
      I could reference many passages, but I will conclude with just one. Recall one of the final acts of Jesus as he hanging on the cross for all of us – did He talk about baptism, works, etc.???
      – reflect on the thief who put his faith in Jesus. Faith alone.

      • mattdabbs says:

        I guess I am confused about salvation being tied to a church. Churches are congregations of God’s people. There are no “lone ranger” Christians. So being a Christian has a lot to do with congregating with God’s people. We call that assembly the “church”. So I get what you are saying but I hope you realize that component of it.

        Also, I really don’t personally know any Church of Christ that teaches they are the only ones going to heaven. Can you tell me that you know even just one congregation or minister who still preaches that? You say you know many have experienced that…I haven’t and I have been in Churches of Christ my whole life, some very conservative and some more progressive. So in 31 years of attendance in a Church of Christ I have never heard that.

        Last, I agree salvation is dependent on God’s mercy and grace as you stated above. But also, as you stated above, “You can pull out many passages to justify whatever point you want.” That seems to be what you are doing at the end of your comment. You point out the criminal on the cross who Jesus brought salvation to while Jesus was on the cross. You imply he had nothing to say about baptism. But you choose not to mention the very last thing he told his disciples before he ascended which does include baptism. It is important we don’t pick and choose but that we embrace all the truth in the teaching and ministry of Jesus and not just the verses we want to emphasize. Just wanted to point that out. Thanks for commenting.

      • may says:

        Matt,
        as to your statement … “I really don’t personally know any Church of Christ that teaches they are the only ones going to heaven. Can you tell me that you know even just one congregation or minister who still preaches that? ” please visit the many sites of those former CoC members – there are many who can share all about it. I am glad that you have not personally experienced this – it can be devastating to those who have.
        As to the significance of baptism, it is very important. My point is simple – John 3:16.
        To be in relationship with Christ is to be part of His church (fellowship of believers) which does exist in other Christian denominations outside of the Church of Christ.
        Baptism is important, but I fear the overemphasis of this. Many embrace baptism as if it is all that is important and lose sight of the reason Jesus came. I am confident in 31 years of attendance in a Church of Christ, you have heard that.

  20. Wayne says:

    Twenty years ago my family experienced two back to back splits in the CofC’s we were attending. A very discouraging situation. The problem seems to most always boil down to intriqacies of “doctrine” which in truth turn out to personality clashes and opinion battles. In 1992 we found an Independent Christian Church constructed after the “seeker friendly” Willow Creek model. This was the best move we ever made — we have not looked back. I don’t question that conflicts exist everywhere — but conflicts will always be pervasive when there are such a myriad of “scruples” about everything under the sun. I don’t have to agree with everything my church does as long as they are true to the basics. Our new church has reached so many people and changed so many lives. When we began it was just a handful of people. Last weekend we had 4000 people attending 3 services. My family is deeply involved. My daughters have married dedicated Christian men — during a time when many of our family and friends in CofC’s have lost their kids — my children are thriving in their faith. I don’t say life is perfect or will always be perfect — but many in the CofC are caught up in trying to “reinvent the wheel” — pushing for change in an old church just usually causes strife. Why go that route when so many churches are thriving and are faithful to the “one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism” and a reaching out to seeking non-Christians.

  21. Rev .vincet bwire says:

    please help my church finance support

  22. John Jansen says:

    Ignorance is the cause of the dilemma which People face in sudying God,s word. The Bible emphatically states that God…” is a rewarder to those who DILIGENTLY seek Him” Heb.11:6b.First of all, Denominationalism is nowhere found in the Bible,the word church in the English language as we understand it ,means a place to worship, but in the original language it simply means an assembly of people. Now the Bible in all its versions, has to be translated from the Greek in which it was originally written, when Alexander conquered the Medes and Persians(Now Iran and IraQ) He made Greek the international language like the British Empire made English the international language today, this is why we have to or rather teachers and scholars of the Bible has to go to the original language to give us a version of the two Testaments and King James is only one such version. Now we have to study the message of the whole Book, then divide the two covenants “Old” and “NEW’ and understand that the Bible was NOT written to us specifically today BUT all its principles, excluding culture and customs, apply to mankinds lives and able to save mans soul.There rules that apply to all written works and the Bible,the first ever book that was printed, has to abide by these rules as well. e.g., History, which was made by the Israelites will never be repeated again, poetry, can be used for all times, like laws, but principles are everlasting so we have to differentiate between what is History, poetry, commands and principles, and it is Principles by which man lives and commands we obey if we are part of a covenant.Christians have obeyed the commands of the gospel,believed the facts of Jesus’ death Burial and resurrection and strive to live by the NT covenant principles whiwlwe trusting in what Jesus did on the cross, to take them to heaven despite their weaknesses, Shortcoming and Failures and ANYONE IS INVITED NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE OR WHERE YOU ARE FROM..Yes ALL NATIONS can become followers of Jesus if they are obedient to His Last will and Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the Messiah! to inherit Eternal life..This gives one entry into Gods Kingdom,Household,and are called Christians not “Church o Christers.”

    • dw says:

      What is your take on Gal. 3:1 in regards to many of the traditions bound by all groups, but in particular many of the churches of Christ. I don’t care for the epithet church of Christer either, but sadly a lovely name and thought has been tainted by many modern day Pharisees. The world is not that forgiving and though our salvation is now in Christ, rather than the blood of bulls and goats, God using other nations to discipline is still in vogue. if Galatians 5 is the “standard” where is the fruit of much of what many of the churches of Christ have taught over the years? Yet now as then the Pharisees were oblivious to what was apparent to everyone else.

      • mattdabbs says:

        DW,

        It is hard to generalize Churches of Christ because we are autonomous and don’t have a governing body. I have known some Churches of Christ that were steeped in tradition and others that were far more progressive. So it is not one size fits all. And as you mentioned the problem of binding traditions on men is not a problem found exclusively in some churches of Christ…it is all over the place.

        I am not understanding this line – “The world is not that forgiving and though our salvation is now in Christ, rather than the blood of bulls and goats, God using other nations to discipline is still in vogue. ” Can you help me see what you are getting at there?

        I have been a part of some vibrant Churches of Christ that were and are bearing much fruit so it is not hard for me to answer the question of where the fruit is of our teaching and our labor. I am sorry if you have been through some rough spots…it isn’t that way everywhere. There is a lot of good happening in Churches of Christ. If you want specifics I would be glad to share.

        • dw says:

          Matt, wasn’t meaning to generalize. My reply was more directed to John Janzen. Not understanding if he is “hardline” . I’m not overly familiar with the forum so thought it would go to him. The greatest I danger I still see is not only for those who live a modern day form of Gal. 3:1 and I still have a lot of friends and family there. I see Gal. 3:1, Heb 6… not as immediate condemnation, but grace in action. Yet they can’t see that they have replaced the blood of bulls and goats with man made law. Yet the world is not blind to the hypocritical lives many who hold such a stance live. Those who deride such forums as Ex-church of Christ may be being called to exam why the forum exists. To many, those outside of their “comfort zone ” are the world, no matter the label. There are a lot of great things going on in all groups. There is a lot of growth. But like many who write to said forum, it is odd to find oneself fighting that which was held sacred for so long. Something didn’t “jibe” but you fought anyway. The strife to let Christ rule rather than church and self. The sadness and anger at seeing some who have surrendered blindly to self-righteousness, The hope for mercy . Yet realizing we have to battle family over matters we used to be unified on. Prophesy being fulfilled. A prayer for strength to overcome.

  23. may says:

    well said dw. Interesting how Matt Dabbs manages to deflect negativity of the CoC with writing “There is a lot of good happening in Churches of Christ. If you want specifics I would be glad to share.” We all know they are tied to their “good works and deeds”. Why then is there this forum? Why does he begin with questioning why there are “ex-church of Christ support group online”? I don’t know what you’ve walked thru, but some of these support sites are well worth exploring. So much pain inflicted into the lives of so many by the CoC members. In our area, there are support groups for recovering former CoC members that meet regularly (invitation only) – amazing to hear their stories, to see the level of legalistic, twisted teaching they’ve encountered, how devastating transitioning away from those they believed in and are now coping with being “shunned” (for a lack of a better word) and traumatized by this dis-association from family and those they believe were friends. God is so faithful, working – teaching and healing. I am confident in His abilities. One thing we can all agree on is that we are grateful to God to have been shown the light by this group (they don’t like owning that they fit the description of a denomination) – even if it means, for many of us, we were shown the door! Mercy and grace are where we find rest in Him.

  24. dw says:

    I don’t know that I would accuse all coCs of being tied to “good works and deeds”. We’re told that is what we are saved for. The works of most of the coCs in dispute are the man-made ones(name above the door, MI, choirs, etc). Many of those groups do a good job of taking care of others, and many do really love. Yes, there are still several congregations in my area of Kansas, who openly condemn those who do not hold to their form of doctrine. But there are also those who have opened up. Their attitude is straight out of the book of James in regards to Heavenly wisdom and demonic wisdom, them being the latter, yet in their delusion they see themselves as the former. I’m a regular on ex-coC, yet I also need prayer to speak the truth yet not be caustic. Many who have been hurt also need to look and pray long and hard in regards to letting the sun go down on our wrath. Even if it is righteous anger ,sitting on it too long can lead to sin. The danger in turning from “legalism” to “license” is also a trend I see. On the forum and in reality for many who have left the coC. A misunderstanding of grace has led to a lot churches of all groups to look more like the world each day. But that was also a by-product of many of the legalistic groups were blind or justified immoral and depraved behavior in their white-washed state. I don’t see Matt as being wrong in pointing out the truth, that there is a lot of good going on in may coCs and in the true church(those who God knows without our help). I have to remind myself and often get reminded that it is easy to use a wide paint brush when we are hurting.

  25. dw says:

    The line in regards to James should come before the line about those who are more open.

  26. kennyg01 says:

    I’ve been in an ex-COC forum for 2 or 3 years, I think it is the one the original blog is about. It is a good support group, and a lot of people have been helped. Some people start a journey of finding another denomination to go to where they can feel comfortable. I believe in God’s providence, and I encourage people to connect with God and listen for his guidance. In the delicate times of recovery, it is not right to insist that a person be a certain way; we accept them where they are, and we try to help them speak their mind, and talk about what went wrong. Sometimes they need regular professional help, and we usually know when it’s time to back up and encourage that.

    Some people just go away for a long time. I was not in any church for over 20 years; I was not particularly damaged by the COC, I just went way too long without a personal faith. It was toward the end of that 20 years that I began to re-encounter God, and I think I learned that he can be trusted. And that is a great beginning. I have resisted the efforts of many Christians from different denominations, to add cruft to my faith. I don’t need to be a Creationist, for example. I simply have learned that I can trust God. I rarely attend any church.

  27. Laurie says:

    Hi,Matt i use to be.a member in Boston Church,i.left in 2007,i found out that leaders kept secret for there members and made sime of there staff make choices ,or risk loosing there job ,which they totally depended on,1.a member of church molester children and father caught him in the act, the parents called.for help.from the leaders to how to handle it,instead of calling the police,they told them it would be delt.w/if they did go too police they would loose their job,well it was handled,they relocated the molester,and found out had done to other children too,and swept under the rug,and because he was bringing in a lot of money,they kept him around and never turn him over to the police , now he is no longer member ,he is gone ,out there in the world doing ehat ever he wants,and noone ever knew about it,all these victims are gone now.i left because i didn’t want to be part of something that lies to there members and takes the law in their owns hand and parents,choose the job over their child.

    • kennyg01 says:

      Laurie, Their church is more important to them than God’s children. I know they don’t see it that way, but I don’t think their version of reality is one I’d give much credence to. A shark is a shark, no matter what clothes it wears. Good thing you left, I hope you are still connected to God, if that’s what you want. It’s not about joining a church…church doesn’t save you. It’s the connection to God. When you peel away all of the cruft they add, there’s really nothing there. At least with the ancient Jews, there was God left, when you peeled away all of the laws they added to God’s original 10.

      When people show up at the ex-COC forum, we try to help them find just God, if they are still interested. After they reconnect to God, it doesn’t really matter what church they go to, does it? You can find God in a lot of places. Some of the best sermons I’ve ever heard were at St Thomas Moore (catholic), in south Denver. And I’ve heard others at some of our local Baptist churches, and there’s one called Mountainview Community Christian Church that has a COC flavor, except for the loud band. One of their executive pastors was once a COC preacher.

      The main thing is for believers to find their way back to God, not the COC.

  28. i m dhas says:

    I M .DHAS
    CHURCH OF CHRIST
    No 7/1.EastTank street
    Kanakoilpattai
    Thirukazhukundram- 603109
    Tamilnadu
    S.india
    E-mail-churchofchristmailbox@rediffmail.com

    Dear brother we have started Church of Christ in Thirukalukundram, Tamilnadu India.Present church building works going on.25 brothers are ready to get baptism.We are looking some preacher to come to India and give baptism
    YOUR BROTHER
    I.M.DHAS

  29. garycummings says:

    Is this really an “ex-church of Christ” site, or just stealth site to bash those who have left?
    Thanks, Gary Cummings, ex member and minister of the COC

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