Posted by: rogueminister | October 25, 2008

Unity and Mission

I am a member of the Churches of Christ. I have been for many years now. I went to Harding and Lipscomb. I worked as both a youth minister and a preacher in the Church of Christ. I currently attend the Southside Church of Christ in Lexington, KY. I have been attending and working for a Church of Christ bible camp for eleven years. The point is that I have been part this fellowship for about half of my short life and I am thankful for this upbringing and heritage. I am grateful for the great men and women of God who have showed me Jesus with their lives. I am indebted for the great teaching and preaching that has shaped my thinking. I am obliged to the many friends that have made in our fellowship over the years, especially those whom I met at Carolina Bible Camp.

Now I must confess that I have wanted to leave the fellowship of the Churches of Christ on several occasions, or maybe better put, there was a few year period where I was determined to leave or at least take a long hiatus from the Church of Christ brotherhood. Why would I want to do that if I have so many things to be thankful for in my history in this alliance?

It boils down to two things. One I believe in Church unity. Two I believe in regular intentional outreach. I wasn’t finding either of these things. Instead I was finding a body part that was cut off from the rest of the body and congregations that were living by a motto of  “come to us.” Now if you think I am only going to blast the Church then keep reading and you’ll find out that is hardly my intent.

I have long longed for loving and edifying church unity among all of those who claim Christ as Lord and God. It was, and I emphasize was, my experience that our fellowship was one of the primary reasons that unity wasn’t being realized.

I am currently going to a Wesleyan/Methodist seminary. Two things have been confirmed for me in my short time here. First, I disagree with a lot of things that are being taught. Second and more importantly though, I am spending time with people who truly are filled with God’s Spirit and dedicated to preaching the Gospel of Christ in love.

I tell you these things to get to this: things are changing. Before my wife and I spent a year in China, we were attending a Church of Christ in the Nashville area. This church was leading the way in the community for unity and outreach. They were praying for other congregations in the area as these groups had needs. They were teaming with other churches for worship and outreach. They were determined to be open to God’s spirit leading as they moved to being more like the body of Christ that we are all called to be.

I heard a story about an interdenominational conference; I believe it was Promise Keepers. One of the speakers was a well-known Church of Christ preacher and he spoke on church unity. Two pastors from a charismatic denomination were talking directly after the sermon and one said to the other with a chuckle, “leave it to God to use a Church of Christ preacher to bring a message about unity.” Again, things are changing.

If we are ever going to be a truly effective and authentic missional church I think we are going to have to be unified with all brothers and sisters who live under the Lordship of King Jesus. It matters little if we agree on each doctrinal issue that will inevitably come up. It matters significantly if we come together in the name of our Crucified and Risen King and collectively take up our Crosses to follow his lead, boldly declaring the Lordship of Jesus in our lives. We do this, trusting the world will indeed see us and know that we are all Christians by the way we love one another.

If we want to be missional it seems to me that we must first be unified. Things are changing. Do you want to take part? If so, then what does that look like? How do we strive for unity in diversity? What issues might come up?

 

– Justin aka RogueMinister

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Responses

  1. “If we want to be missional it seems to me that we must first be unified.”

    I’m learning that anything that is waiting on visible Christian unity will never happen this side of eternity.

    If you want to be missional, then be missional.

  2. Hmmmm, I am seeing a lot of unity these days in the body.

    I am hardly saying we should wait. I am merely suggesting that the infighting of the church is terribly repulsive to the world and a big hindrance to authentic and effective evangelism and discipleship.

    I mean why would someone want to join any group in which they felt like they constantly had to choose sides or listen to people complain and argue all the time?

    Unity will help us in our venture to be missional. After all Christianity is a communal faith.

  3. I know when we are in the thick of the fight it is hard to see a way forward. I myself have had many sleepless nights because of church problems. I have been in several places where I have helped unity to remain when others wanted to “more perfectly explain” their point of view.

    Most of the time it comes down to a question of love. Not just our love for each other, but for Christ, his body and unity. Churches can not avoid disagreements any more than a husband and wife can avoid bad times in their marriage. While my wife has not ever agreed that I am perfect for her she has determined that she will not divorce me.

    Unfortunately there are all too many members in the church ready to divorce the rest of the fellowship over “burnt toast.”

    While idolatry (adultery) and other gross sins are grounds to divorce a portion of the body, my opinions certainly are not.

    Happy loving congregations are, in my view, just as possible as happy loving marriages, (Eph. 5:21-33) even if we have to work harder than we ever thought possible to achieve the results God wants for his people.

  4. Justin-
    Just read your post today and am delighted to say,”welcome to the universal Body of Christ!”

    After 40 years in the service of Christ and His Church, including 12 wonderful years in Brazil, I am dedicated to advocating for the Unity of The Church. This unity is a wonderful and majestic thing to behold once the Lord begins to show it to us through the “eyes of faith”. There is a great diversity, greater than any of us finite beings can imagine. I honestly believe this is a vision that the founders of the Christian/Disciples/Church of Christ began to see and sought to be faithful to.

    May we all be open to Christ’s Headship and be prepared to the Church which he loved and gave Himself to redeem: His Bride, made up of multitdes from every Tribe and Nation.

    Have a blessed experience at Asbury. There are indeed a lot of godly men and women there and you are fortunate to have an opportunity to get an inside view of this Wesleyian heritage.

    John Paul Todd
    e4unity.wordpress.com


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