Feb 27, 2007

church identity crisis, or a needed adjustment

The Christian Chronicle currently features an article by Bobby Ross Jr posing the question whether or not the church is facing an identity crisis. Many different opinions are noted in this feature story, but it's obvious while many differ on why there is an identity crisis, most agree this is occurring in the Church of Christ.

Another discussion of this identity crisis can be found at Scott Freeman's blog. Comments on his post also point out that this identity problem is happening throughout the Restoration churches.

I would venture to opine that the only ones not having this identity crisis are those in the my-way-or-the-highway churches (including some COC groups) that have always maintained they alone are the true church of Christ. While many churches are pulling their heads out of the sand and seeking new ways to help their communities and communicate Jesus to the lost, many of our legalistic brethren are still oblivious to change, and honestly believe they already have everything down exactly as the Lord reveals, and certainly don't need to make any corrections. If you disagree with one of theses churches YOU are the one having an identity crisis!

Scott Freeman wrote; "I often wonder how big the table of fellowship might be." For some churches a very small table would suffice. Any church groups believing they alone are blessed with perfect scriptural interpretation will always find plenty of elbow room around their fellowship table. Any church groups believing they alone are blessed with perfect scriptural interpretation will always find plenty of elbow room around their fellowship table. Judging other believers as lost unless they lockstep to our particular belief system guarantees a small fellowship.

If Christians are having this crisis, just imagine the difficulty of those outside the body of Christ seeking to identify with a church! It's impossible for all of us to arrive at the same conclusions about every verse of scripture, and until we can agree to disagree, and still love and fellowship each other, we will continue to have a church identity problem.

No doubt many churches are having an identity crisis; perhaps this is God's way of drawing His children together around a larger table, where there is room for all Christians to extend their hands in fellowship, fully united in the body of Christ.

Feb 23, 2007

the traditional lord's supper

When we follow the same traditional worship service formula for years without the slightest deviation in form, our worship service becomes etched in stone. Any changes, even slight variations, are often deemed unacceptable, even sinful, by those who have adopted as absolute truth, the traditions of men.

Man-made traditions are not always horrible monsters, but become monsters when some in the church insist only these traditions are acceptable to God. Often scripture is twisted to fit a particular belief system, then thrust on the rest of the church as gospel truth. Traditions, over time, take on an aura of respectability regardless of their merit.

Commenting on John Dobbs site recently I listed a few traditional habits we often follow when participating in the communion service. The following practices are easily recognized by many in the church, and are absolute prerequisites (tongue-in-cheek somewhat) when commemorating the Lord's supper:
  • Always place the little lacy tablecloth on the communion table properly.
  • Always center the trays on the communion table; bread to the left of course.
  • Wear a coat, shinny shoes, and a rag tied around your neck.
  • When walking to the front be sure to get in step so all things will be done decently and in order.
  • Use the little plastic cups that the older members can't grasp, and men with large hands can’t get out of the tray.
  • Use the same prayers week after week so there is no confusion about what is going on.
  • Women can pass the emblems horizontally (from side-to-side while seated) to men, but not vertically (while standing.)
  • When the communion service is completed, and just prior to the giving process, be sure to say, “this is not a part of the communion service, but is a convenient time to give of our means.”

The list can go on forever. Following these steps will ensure a robotic communion service that any unthinking Christian can participate in without the slightest need to think outside the box. Not that all these practices are inappropriate, but with no variations over the years they become so engraved in our mind as being the only acceptable methods that anyone guilty of changing the format in the slightest is considered a suspect Christian.

Feb 20, 2007

once more with gusto

After a three-month hiatus since my "There's always a final post" statement, and missing the astute comments from my brilliant blog friends, I have once again decided to leap in with both feet, and drag my old occasional opinion blog back into the public arena.

This blog continues to see the need (even if with a small voice) to question the dangerous human traditions that continue to swirl around many in the Church of Christ separating them from not only other groups spawned within the Restoration Movement, but from other believers in Jesus as well. Thankfully, an ever increasing number in the COC realize they have brothers and sisters outside their little groups, and work overtime to extend their hands in fellowship to those once considered too imperfect to wear His name.

As always feel free to comment; our opinions will often differ, but hopefully not our dedication to follow Jesus faithfully.