Addressing Declining Numbers in Churches of Christ 2 – It is Not a Conservative or Progressive Problem

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The progressive side of the church often has an attitude that conservative churches are dragging down the church from the inside out. You hear things about how out of touch they are and how they are fighting battles that are at least 100 years old and the like. I may have even said something similar to that at some time or another. The point in this post is this – It is easy to point fingers at the other end of the theological spectrum and say someone else is to blame. It is also very easy for either side (isn’t that crazy terminology that we have taken sides within the church of Christ?) to build straw men and rip them to pieces with ease and vigor. Progressives are not the only ones who build straw men and point fingers. I have read plenty of that from the conservative side of the CofC as well. When conservatives and progressives do these things what ends up happening is that neither side takes ownership of any of the problem because they are themselves like the Pharisee in the temple who is thanking God that he is not like that tax collector over there.

So conservative churches are not the only problem. Progressive churches are not the only problem either. We are all, individually the problem. We all share in the problem. We also all have to be a part of the solution. We have to be even handed in our assessment of what is going on and take ownership of our own responsibility in our decline. So if you are on the progressive end of the Church of Christ spectrum (which is still very conservative compared to most of the Christian world) don’t think you are blame free because you aren’t legalistic and because you aren’t fighting theological battles from 100 years ago. Instead, be proactive in understanding your own biases and what areas you need to improve to help God’s church grow over the next decade. Again, they are not the enemy. If you are on the conservative side, don’t spend your time analyzing and assessing the words of the progressives just looking for an inconsistency or mistake. Instead, both sides need to see what FRUITS their life and ministry are producing. If it is producing FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT, whether conservative or progressive, then both sides of the aisle need to rejoice with the other and recognize that God is at work.

We can toss around stereotypes all day long but nothing is going to happen until we figure out that we aren’t going to change each other. The only person who can change your mind and your actions is you. So take some time to decide whether or not your life and ministry has been what God desires for it to be and don’t worry so much about what everyone else is doing. And be careful when you start labeling people as conservative or progressive or many other labels we have used. Once we start doing that we again play into being ineffectual.

Just in case I have now offended every single person who read this let me remind you that Jesus sides with me in the need to look at our own problems first and foremost. Jesus said in Matthew 7 – “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

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