Does the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) deserve to live?
I’ve been talking with folk about the current state of the denomination. We agree that all is not well in Disciple-land. But in all of the conversations I’ve had, there is the belief that the tradition is dying.
And that’s where the conversation ends.
I agree with them in someway that the movement that was born two centuries ago is dying. What is so odd is that at least among some people there isn’t any drive to do something to preserve the tradition. There seems to be a creeping fatalism that just accepts what will happen, instead of seeing it as a wake-up call to take stock of where we have been and where God is calling us.
I know that all things come to an end. I understand that things (and people) die and we shouldn’t avoid death. But I wonder if in this case, it is premature to give up, to start performing last rites. Especially in Mainline Protestant churches, we have become accustomed to accepting the death of programs and churches, so why should the denomination be any different?
I think some people have decided that nothing can change and just accept that this denomination will go away. Maybe that’s the best course. Just accept that things can’t be changed and that all good things must come to an end.
But what if this isn’t the end?
What if God still has a lot for Disciples to do in the world? What if this dying can become resurrection? Why is there this prevailing mood of fatalism?
I’ve shared some of the structural problems that are facing the Disciples. But there are deeper problems that need to be solved like the need for more effective leadership when it comes to church planting and church renewal. Too much focus on political agendas and not enough on resourcing churches to more effectively preach and teach the gospel. More and more focus on telling people what they should think about social and political issues and not enough on giving people the tools to think through issues themselves and come up with solutions the bring for God’s peaceful kingdom.
I could go on. The point here is that it is not time to give up and live a life of quiet resignation. I think this tradition means too much to me to just not care.
It’s time for change. Maybe that change will come from the inside, as people in Disciple institutions see the need for renewal. Or it could come for outside, where independent affliliated groups model a different way to be church that can influence the whole.
There have been times I’ve wanted to leave the Disciples for greener pastures, but I’ve decided to stay because I don’t think God is done with us yet. If the case is that we are dying and nothing can be done about it, then let’s just shut it down now. There is no sense in letting the corpse shamble on like a zombie.
I think it’s time for a reformation of the Restoration.
Thank you for continuing to raise important questions. I think there is fatalism among some and failure to recognize the realities of our situation among others. I think we are better served to start thinking in terms of resurrection. It would behoove us to give greater attention to the movement of the Holy Spirit. We remain overly rationalist, and need a bit more Spirit. That may mean asking more Trinitarian questions. Yes, asking theological questions.
I had the privilege of attending a conference at Church of Christ related Rochester College. CofC theologian Leonard Allen reminded us of the work of Robert Richardson who challenged his mentor’s reliance on Locke and failure to understand the role of the Spirit beyond the words of the Bible. There is need of the Spirit to breath life into the dry bones. We’re not alone in this We might want to await more fully the move of the Spirit. Perhaps instead of Mission First we need first the Spirit and then the mission!!
Check out the work that the Disciples Seminary Foundation is doing in supporting and raising new church leaders in West Coast seminaries. They are also involved in training telented church planters through their Seed Planters program. These Seed Planters are visionaries, ready to plant new churches in new and creative ways….for example, check out UrbanMission in Pomona, California.
I grew up in a Disciples of Christ church and when I married a catholic my pastor never once warned me of the consequences of that. After being involved in the Catholic Church for about 18 yrs God showed me how wrong their teaching is ! Now have been in a Bible Church for 10 yrs, I see how little I was taught in Disciples of Christ church. There is a huge difference. I think people are hungry for the truth of scripture and not be offered the freedom of opinion on so many important issues. This seems to be a trademark of this denomination. I love the way our pastors preach in an expository manner ! It helps to show people exactly what God has to say instead of them being free to think what they want.