Tuesday, October 19, 2010


The church/Church of Christ name...

I like the name church of Christ. I think it is Biblical and I am proud to have grown up in a church that identifies itself so closely with Jesus. I do wonder about the concern that we must identify ourselves as Church of Christ. Do we have to have a name, or a title, for our church? There are certainly other names just as Biblical, but I am not sure the early church identified itself by a name.

The problem is that we quit using church of Christ as a description and began to use it as an identifier for a particular group of believers. I am absolutely convinced that there have been Christians who worshipped together without using that specific name. I do not think dropping the name Church of Christ makes one not a member of the church of Christ.

I do not even have a problem with a heritage that generally identifies itself by using one name prodominantly. I do have a problem with insisting that we can only use one name. Jesus thought we would be identified because of our love for each other.

So should we drop the name Church of Christ? I don't think it matters. There are some who have a negative image of the people they associate with that name. But I rarely run into that any more. In fact, most people outside the church of Christ either have no idea who we are, or they have a positive image of us.

I introduce myself as a Christian who worships with the church of Christ. Locally, I introduce myself as a Christian who worships at Southern Hills. Most everyone knows us. If they ask what that is, I tell them a church of Christ.

So I am happy to be a member of the church of Christ. I am proud of belonging to the church of Christ. But I don't much care if I am seen as a member of the Church of Christ. One describes who we are. The other is more about what we are... or are not. And to remind me of the destinction, I do not capitalize church. It helps me remember the difference between a description and a title.

Just me, but I want to be a "who" more than a "what".

Share your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


Churches of Christ and church autonomy...

I am not sure how I feel about church autonomy. On the one hand, I agree with the historical church of Christ position that it is hard to find a multi-church structure in the New Testament. I think we have correctly taught that Peter was not anything other than a local church elder. It does appear that in the New Testament each congregation had elders that oversaw that church. But I have a hard time being dogmatic about it because of the Jerusalem church. Acts 15 seems to violate the doctrine of strict congregational authority to some degree. And if the men in Acts 6 were deacons, which congregation in Jerusalem did they serve? Or were there many house churches in Jerusalem under one eldership?

So is the model of various "campuses" under a local church eldership reflective of the Jerusalem church? Evangelical churches have long favored this model and you are seeing more churches of Christ try this approach. We at Southern Hills are wrestling with a model that incorporates Home Gatherings (house churches) into the Southern Hills family under our elders.

But my biggest question is why the incredible disconnect between a theology that insists on local church autonomy while in practice many congregations stick their nose into the business of other congregations? We have congregations that withdraw fellowship from congregations that they have never even met, much less had fellowship with. Congregations criticize other congregations and question decisions other elderships make. To claim we have no "denominational" structure is at odds with the many who want to construct lists of "faithful" churches.

Just reminds me that it is easy to claim right answers when looking at other groups, but hard to practice the same theology in our own group.

Just my thoughts.

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