With a wink and an appreciation to my blogging brothers and sisters who enjoy lists I present this one. I have noticed that often (me included) we CoC bloggers do a very good job at critiquing our bunch but sometimes seem to forget the many blessings in being a part of it. We certainly are far from perfect, but which church is? So, with no further ado, and in no particular order here is the list:
- We enjoy a vast and very connected fellowship. Literally everywhere I travel across the world within the Churches of Christ I discover personal connections with people I have just met. It amazes me. In the C0C it takes far fewer than six degrees of seperation.
- We are very generous. Never have I gone wanting for funds to do good works. Mission money has always been there. Hundreds of thousands of dollars came our way through two hurricanes. Even on a personal level, my church has always been there for me.
- Our singing. Yes, I know there is much debate about this. There seems to be a cottage industry out there trying to prove one thing or another, but quite often in worship settings at church or at camp or at a workshop or alone listening to a CD, the combined voices of my spiritual family has taken me to the very throne of God. I even get chill bumps thinking about it.
- Our dedication to Scripture. Sure, we have used Scripture in less than noble ways, to prove our points, to even fabricate doctrines, to win arguments, and to bully, but overall I am very thankful to be a part of a group that honors the Bible as God’s infallible Word. This approach is far from a given any more in church circles.
- Our gatherings. This is related to point number one, but I seperate it for personal reasons. Over the years some of my fondest memories have to do with attending gatherings like Christian camp or the Tulsa Workshop or Pepperdine Lectures or Winterfest or the Magnolia Bible College Benefit Dinner. These events (among others) when I attended them were always positive and encouraging. I would meet new people and renew old acquaintances. I might not always agree with everything I heard, but never did that diminish the joy and spiritual boost I received.
- The local churches. I have truly been blessed to preach for some warm and loving congregations. Overall I have had a blast in twenty-six years of full-time ministry. There have been some bumps and disappointments along the way, but how can I really complain. God has given me friends forever in two continents in the local churches where I preached- and he has now led me to Gateway. Thank you Lord!
- Elders. At least for me anyway. My shepherds over the years have not been perfect, sometimes they have let me down, and at other times I have been more than frustrated with them, but overall they have been there for me, supporting me, encouraging me, shielding me, being patient with me, empowering me, and loving me- even when it was difficult to do so.
- Communion. Our weekly devotion to share the Lord’s Supper is central part of who I am as a Christian.
- Gathering around the baptismal waters. Talk about chill bumps and special moments.
- Our heritage. It thrills me to read about my spiritual ancestors who sought to establish a church based on simple New Testament Christianity. I realize they often made some big blunders; that there were some inconsistencies in their messages; that some attitudes and doctrine eventually became too hardened; and that the unity they so desired was never quite achieved. But, wow, just reading about their dedication, their sacrifice, their perseverance and their faith is amazing. I am thankful for the trails they blazed.
So there it is. This list is not a defense of the Churches of Christ- just my personal take on the blessings I have enjoyed. I am well aware of our shortcomings, but I am also trying to be more aware of our strengthes too.
Anything to add- or take away? It is okay. It is just a blog! 😉