Category Archives: Church of Christ

“Those Were the Days” – What Does the Future Hold for Churches of Christ?

Nostalgia is the first step in church life toward congregational death.

“Nostalgia is an exile mentality. Fulfillment is contingent on the ‘once upon a time’ remembrances of yesterday. ‘I remember when’ stories become commonplace in organizations during nostalgic days. The golden days are remembered fondly. From an organizational perspective, nostalgia signals the beginning of a trend toward a lack of trust, unstable relationships, and an erosion of commitment to present programs and ministries.” – Robert Dale, To Dream Again, 105, 107

Many of our churches were born in the 50s and 60s, raised in the 60s and 70s and came to maturity in the 70s and 80s. They have gone through a midlife crises and are now in their waning years. Churches tend to follow the human life cycle in their years and stages. They go from energy, growth and excitement to tired, lethargic and impotent and eventually to death all in about the same number of years of a human life.

Are we convinced our best days are behind us or ahead of us? I think many of us are afraid to answer that question because we believe it is the first but we wish it could be the second. Why is that? Could it be that we idolized the era of our youth, just as aging people in decline often do? Could it be that our nostalgia for our glory days is an obstacle to our future? I think so. What do you think?

The past was rigid. We know that there are things we could do today, even should do today that we don’t because we believe it would dishonor those great people who went before us. But consider it like this for a moment. If those people were born when you were born and experienced what you experienced rather than being born 40-50 years prior (when they were actually born) they might well see things just as you do. We can reconnect with their pioneering spirit without having to also reconnect with every specific thing they believed, especially those aspects of their beliefs that were just as much a product of their day and culture as some of the things we deal with today are.

The future is too important to be held hostage by the past. If you feel nostalgia setting in let it be a red flag that decline is either already going on or is imminent.

Does Unity Require Uniformity?

The short answer is no and yes. The answer is no if you mean complete agreement in all things. The answer is yes if you mean the core doctrines of the Christian faith. When we say we have to have “unity without uniformity” we are talking about the first. We are saying that the BibleContinue Reading

What is the Real Issue in Churches of Christ?

It isn’t women’s roles. It isn’t instrumental music. It isn’t clapping or dancing. If I had to boil down to what our real issue is it is this – how we read scripture and the presuppositions we bring to the table when we read the Bible. A necessary and related discussion is our view ofContinue Reading

Reframing the Name “Church of Christ”

Having grown up in Churches of Christ, I am well aware of our quirks and idiosyncrasies. I am sure many of you are as well. We have traditionally used all kinds of phrases that are not found in the Bible to talk about things found in the Bible. For instance “we use Bible names forContinue Reading

Operating Out of Conviction

Conviction is a word that I don’t hear very often. I think it is underused. The Bible talks about conviction in a few places including the famous chapter on faith in Hebrews 11, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” If we are to operate out ofContinue Reading

Ministers’ Health in Churches of Christ – Some New Statistics to Consider

I recently ran a survey of Church of Christ ministers to assess their health and self-care. I am going to be presenting a very small portion of that information at the Pepperdine lectures next week. There were a lot of things in the data that were encouraging and some things that scream just how muchContinue Reading

Playing Chess With God

Sometimes life feels like playing chess with God. I am sitting on one side of the table trying to play both hands. Seated across from the Creator of the universe I strategize…figuring out what my next moves are going to be while also attempting to determine what God’s next moves are going to be AtContinue Reading

Thomas Campbell and the Declaration and Address

Yesterday our class focused on Restoration Movement history. We talked about the life of Thomas Campbell and some of the things that influenced him to seek a path to unity. While obviously not an inspired document, his Declaration and Address of 1809 expresses several principles that the Restoration Movement has drifted from and it wouldContinue Reading

Ironing Out Our Conflicting Message on the Usefulness of the Old Testament

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard in my life that the Old Testament is irrelevant to us because it was nailed to the cross and is therefore no longer useful to Christians today. People have based this view on a number of things. First there is Colossians 2:14 that says somethingContinue Reading

Being Direct

Every eldership I have ever worked with I have told up front that I will trust them and that I expect for them to tell me anything I would need to know including any criticism that they are directing toward me. This is a very important thing to establish in any important relationship. Often weContinue Reading

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