Two Looming Questions For the Restoration Movement’s Future

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There is a question that looms over the Restoration Movement that probably hits Churches of Christ as hard as anyone. Where does the Restoration Movement go from here? It seems to me that we have an identity crisis on our hands.

A Quick Review of Why We Are Confused

Step 1 – We were about unity. But our approach to biblical interpretation made unity impossible.

Step 2 – We became about having all the right doctrine and tossed unity out the window.

Step 3 – Many realized that there was something missing – grace and the Spirit.

Step 4 – We became more open to others being Christians and the continuing work of the Spirit

Step 5 – Since we now accepted others as Christians we got confused about who we are.

What is the next step? I want to hear from you in the comments on this.

Step 6 – We put Jesus and his mission back in the center of who we are like they were for the early church.

In doing so we begin to see the work of the Spirit as they saw in Acts and we begin to see movement as they saw movement. The first century church could very well come alive before our eyes.

I don’t know about you but I want to see this in my lifetime and in my ministry!

If we had paired discipleship with our doctrine from the beginning we would have found unity much more easily. Instead, due to Lockean rational influences, we were very much an intellectual movement that wasn’t moving. We were growing by bringing in people from other groups but we weren’t really growing the kingdom. It was a head exercise rather than a heart, feet and hands exercise.

We must correct this if we are to have a meaningful future and even a faithful future. And I believe our philosophical (Restoration) underpinnings make us prime to pull this off because we can go to the Bible and show (from our typical way of reading and interpreting) that discipleship is an essential next step for the congregations.

Where would you say the Restoration Movement goes from here and why?

The Second Big question:

What would restoring New Testament Christianity actually look like?

We restored a pattern of worship and church governance that mostly affects our Sunday assembly. That is not actual, full, or even always accurate restoration.

We also used restoration to form an identity that was based in church practices rather than in Jesus. To whatever degree we did that, we need to repent.

We didn’t focus on restoring their mission. That was a big mistake. Our theology must be expressed in mission (Making disciples and planting churches) and that praxis (Making disciples and planting churches) must be rooted in solid biblical theology (which we have in many ways in spades).

Here is my answer to the question

I believe it would look a lot like Jesus in our identity and a lot like Acts and reliance on the Spirit in our mission. The result might just be the unity and restoration we were always wanting.

The Restoration movement takes us to discipleship if we actually restore the New Testament church. We must get back to an identity rooted in Christ and a mission launched by Christ and sustained by the Spirit if we are going to make the next leg of the journey successfully.

A warning

We don’t want to form a new legalism around discipleship or making disciples where we say we are the only ones (once again) because others aren’t doing what God said and we are. That’s a dangerous path we do not want to go down.

If you want to learn more about where to start, check out the Discipleship Resources page on this site. You can always find it in the discipleship menu or via the direct link.

Here is a quick start…

6 Responses

  1. As long as our collective personal pronoun “we” means something less than the church, we will struggle with the unity issue. As long as most of the body of Christ is “they” and not “us”, our very definitions will keep us oriented inward and not outward toward the lost.

  2. I reply to a statement involved with your second question:
    We also used restoration to form an identity that was based in church practices rather than in Jesus. To whatever degree we did that, we need to repent.
    And I made a note in my files:
    I think I need to re-read the Didache and see how it focuses on Jesus and not necessarily on practices???
    And then I noticed we used the term practices.

    Instead of practices, we use postures?

    Love from fourteen!

    1. Lowry!!! Long time no hear (what, 4 decades or so???)

      Didache is an interesting read. And it does deal with practices – based on purpose. The discussion around the Lord’s Supper has always been of interest to me. The Supper was attended by members of that Body only. It was the most important part of the gathering.
      Personally, I have been in favor or “closed communion,” linked to the fact that it is THE Central act in the assembly. Many congregations have “streamlined” the assembly so that the preacher gets the largest time segment.

      I think it was in an earlier exchange with Matt, where I read that “We started with amateurs, and grew like a wild fire. Then we handed it off to the professionals…”

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