Posted by: michaelhanegan | October 16, 2008

The Missional Conversation in Churches of Christ and Denominational Structures

In the book Missional Church the beginning of the book describes both the situation that we find ourselves in and attempts to describe the probable causes of those problems. One answer that is given is denominational structures.

As a fellowship without those structures it is interesting that we have suffered many of the same consequences and challenges that are listed in the book as a result of denominations.

The following are some questions that i think will be important as we continue this conversation specifically for Churches of Christ. I would encourage those of you reading this to wrestle with these questions and contribute your thoughts. In the coming days I will do the same.

What gifts or blessings do we have to offer up as an example to other churches (especially those in denominations) as they also seek to find ways to make their identity increasingly missional?

Does our past as a movement have anything to offer to this journey today whether theologically or otherwise?

What particular challenges will we incur as a fellowship that may not be an issue inside a denominational structure?

What is the way forward into the missional frontier for Churches of Christ?



  1. I was just thinking about this over the past week, funny you should bring it up. It is interesting that the structures we adopt and develop in the church actually do affect the function of what we do and how we view it.

    1 – I think we have a lot to offer in our fellowship to the broader Christian movement. We still respect ancient forms of worship and all the meaning that is packed into that. We still have the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis and keep it central to our worship. Many groups have marginalized the Lord’s Supper. Other groups are finally coming around on baptism, which is refreshing.

    2 – It seems to me like there are some restoration principles within much of what is going on today. People want to get back to scripture and strip away the things that we have added that get in the way of encountering God in worship. We have been trying to do that for over 200 years and have a unique perspective.

    3 – We have the challenge of not acting like we are the only real church. We also have the challenge of humility to accept those we disagree with on disputable matters.

    4 – We need voices for the mission that keep the central theme of the Gospel and Jesus’ own mission in front of us. We tend to talk in circles about the same old issues and never move forward. Instead we need to let the mission drive our conversation and the issues that arise instead of fighting dead battles. We have gotten really good at fighting those old, dead battle. It is really time to move outside the walls of the fortress and realize that the battle is outside the church, not inside the church. Also, we have relied on transfer growth in the past but that won’t work well in the future as more and more people are unchurched. We have to stop stealing sheep and converting people from this or that type of Christianity to our form. We have to start being Christians and realize that other Christians are also just Christians.

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