One Vision

Answers abound aplenty to address our failing churches. While details vary all agree that a new vision is needed. Here is mine.  As a church we need to:

  • Rediscover our identity. We need to become less institutionalized and more personal. The first church in Acts had few institutional trappings. They engaged people where they were. Too often today the church is seen as detached from people- operating from a institutional mindset of protectionism, fear and judgmentalism. To erase the erosion we have to remove such barriers and become relevant in individual lives again. Our identity should be wrapped up in Christ’s thinking- not institutional thinking.
  • Remember our purpose. God did not call us to come to a building, sit in pews and expect our preferences to be pampered. Peter clearly defines why we were chosen- “that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). If the church is to grow our focus must turn outward. Our purpose as Christians is to serve- not be served.  
  • Redefine our priorities. When Christians are indistinguishable from their culture, the message of Christ is compromised. This is one reason why churches are now failing. Our priorities are skewed. We seek many other things before the kingdom. God cannot bless that. We must return Christ to his throne in our hearts and churches.
  • Rekindle our faith. From where I sit, I see a culture of fear in our churches. More often I hear discussions about why we can’t rather than how we can. Part of this- in my opinion- stems from our institutional thinking. We operate from a “protect it first” reactionary mentality instead of outreach thinking. Faith is the causality here. “By faith” is how God’s people have always accomplished his will. We must return to trusting him in order to grow again.
  • Re-engage fellowship. A fractured, divided, strife-filled church undermines everything Christ stands for. Infighting and a refusal to engage even those within our own fellowship disqualifies our Christian claims to our already skeptical world. When we can demonstrate that the love of Christ and one another overrides our often petty differences, that the church is indeed a welcoming place for all sinners, and that we actually cherish being together- then maybe our Christian claims will be more authentic and others will be inclined to join us.

God, strengthen us for this challenge and grant us humility and wisdom as we search for ways to revitalize your church in our communities.

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11 Responses to One Vision

  1. Clyde S. says:

    Amen.

    We will be healthy when we are keenly aware of and excited about our mission in the world. Infighting and nitpicking does not advance our mission, so it cannot produce healthy, winsome congregations.

    Good stuff, Danny!

  2. Edward Lee says:

    I agree Danny, and may I add, that when we refer to the ‘the church’, that we’re not just talking about the Church of Christ.

    ALL DENOMINATIONS need to tear down their pride, their sense of false identity in a name or denominational tradition (including the church of christ), and begin unifying with a common purpose.

    we have begun to do this in our young adult group, and it has been powerful and truly enlightening. We have found that we have way more in common with our brothers in the nazarene church, catholic and presbyterian church, baptist church, and calvary church then we realized.

    This generation of people are now open to these things, and we can truly begin communicating again, and change the world.

  3. Danny Holman says:

    Very good post. We have to learn to connect with the world around us on a personal level once again. That’s a stretch for too many of us.
    As we try to “grow” the church institution… we will struggle. People are suspect of organization. However, people wanted a “why” for their life, meaningful relationships, healthy families, and an authentic relationship with God. As we focus on those things in each individual we will be what God calls us to be. Then, we’ll leave the growth of each congregation up to Him.
    Thanks again for this series of posts.

  4. Donna says:

    I agree with all…the first one is the big thing. We have become so attached to our institutions we think we can’t exist without them. They have taken the place of Jesus as the center of our being (IMHO)

  5. Royce says:

    Our identity must be “Christ”, not “church of Christ”.
    When we get the first on your list right all the others will fall into line. It is largely due to a false identity that almost all of the divisions and infighting occur.

    If our identity continues to be “church of Christ”, many, many things can shake us to the core. Any change to the institution is a threat to us personally. However, if our identity is found only in Christ nothing can shake us because He is faithful.

    Royce

  6. preacherman says:

    I totally agree with Royce
    Wonderful thoughts.
    Keep up the great blogging Danny.
    I hope you have a great week.

  7. K. Rex Butts says:

    Wonderful post. I would add that the protect and preserve the way it has always been is killing us. Not just because it betrays a trapping in traditionalism but because it ceases to allow God to work in us and through us ‘as he wills’ because we have already determined how God should work and now we just protect and preserve that determination. I see so many churches looking for ministers who want a minister who will only be what they want rather than seeking a minister whose passion is the gospel and will help that church participate in the gospel afresh rather than just uphold the status quo. Somewhere along the way, we forgot to ask (and seriously consider) whether those things we are so afraid of becoming are actually what God is trying to bring about in us if we would just open our ourselves up. The failure to ask that question comes with deadly consequences for the local church and the larger movement — and a movement that began by Christian leaders daring to ask that very question.

    Thanks for the post!

    -Rex

  8. Jerry Starling says:

    Wonderful post! I remember working in a campaign oversees and a 17-year old from South Georgia greeted someone at the door by saying, “We’re not the Mormons, we’re not the Jehovah’s Witnesses, we’re not the Seventh-Day Adventist – WE’RE THE CHURCH OF CHRIST. Apparently he thought that great announcement would open the door for us to just walk right in and be able to show them how superior we were.

    I contrast that with Paul’s declaration, “We do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.” When we quit preaching the Church of Christ and begin preaching Christ and Him crucified – and accompanying that preaching with our own cross-bearing – we will begin to come out of the morass we are in today.
    -Jerry

  9. E. Walker Myer says:

    The first sentence, Danny — failing chuches — must catch our attention. Who wants to be part of a failing church? I read today that the C of C is in decline for the first time in the USA. One reason, it was pointed out, is because some of our congregations have added instrumental worship in addition to their a cappella services, thus they have been deleted from the directory of Churches of Christ in the United States. Does anyone else out there think this is pitiful?
    We argue about the best way to “bring people to Christ” and who out there we can teach. We know there are innumerable ones who don’t even know Christ died for them. However, if they are brought to Christ and are faithful to him BUT they pick up an instrument to sing a song to glorify him, we kick them out!!!
    If God’s grace is powerful enough to SAVE a lost soul, isn’t HIS grace powerful enough to save a person who wants to sing to HIM in which ever way he/she chooses — that includes contemporary music. We are focusing on the wrong things, friends. We have to get our house in order (those of us in the C of C) before people will flock to us to heal their hurting souls. I, for one, am willing to fellowship anyone who is baptized into Christ, knowing Christ has folded them into HIS arms. Who am I to “kick them out” because the sign on their church building doesn’t suit me or the way they praise the Lord doesn’t please me or the songs they choose to sing aren’t MY choice? It is our judgmental hearts that is at issue here.
    Barton W. Stone said, “Let the unity of Christians be our polar star.” People outside our churches know we can’t get along with our own brethren across town, why would they want to be a part of that?
    I fear I have said enough. E. Walker Myer

  10. dannydodd says:

    Good input everyone. Thanks for your points-of-view. It makes for interesting dialogue.

    And Doung- thanks for stopping by and posting. Come back again! 🙂

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