Can there be such a thing as “mainstream Church of Christ” when we have autonomous congregations led by local elderships? When you hear someone talk about another person in our movement being mainstream what they are usually saying is that that person believes like they do. Ultra-conservatives are “mainstream” to the ultra-conservatives and progressives are “mainstream” to progressives.
One of the beauties of the Church of Christ is that we are set up for finding a path toward unity in diversity. We have no national organization or church governance that is over regions or nations. We have no national convention. We are homegrown, grass roots, organic, everyday people trying to love God and love others. Each church is able to open their Bible and do what they think it says. The church across town might read it different and practice it different but at the end of the day each church does what it believes to be right. While that sounds like the running refrain of the book of Judges, “Everyone did was they thought was right in their own eyes” it is much healthier than that…the difference being our focus on God’s Word as our guide.
Some say the other side under-emphasizes scripture and some say the other side over-emphasizes the wrong things but at the end of the day everyone is opening basically the same Bible and trying to honor God through their lives. I love that about our movement. Honestly, I love our quirkiness and our messiness in a weird kind of way because it shows we are human and we have a way of dealing with things that does at times result in conflict but for the most part allows for a diversity of perspective and practice in local congregations. We don’t always agree on every issue with one another (who does) but at the end of the day we can each go back to our congregations and worship in the ways we believe God is pleased by and cannot force the other to adopt practices they are uncomfortable with or believe are unbiblical.