Category Archives: Churches of Christ

N.T. Wright on Gospel and Mission

Recently N.T. Wright lectured at Oklahoma Christian University. Below is a YouTube video of one of those lectures, probably a “chapel sermon,” on the relationship between gospel and mission, the vocational challenge we have as followers of Jesus. I believe you will really be encouraged and challenged by what you here, so do yourself a favor and listen.

Grace Is When God…

I’ve started reading through Pastrix: The Cranky Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber, who is a Lutheran Pastor. After hearing the author speak once and knowing something of her story, I was intrigued when this book came out. One I started reading the book and learned that she was raised in a Church of Christ, it makes even more sense why I find her story intriguing. Now a word of warning to those with super-disdain for foul language… you are warned.

The author is just like us all, a sinner in need of God’s grace. I lament that she didn’t learn about the grace of God in a Church of Christ but I understand. I only hope that as preacher in a Church of Christ, those who hear me preach and teach will learn of God’s grace because we’re all hopeless without it.

As I do reflect on my own preaching and teaching as well as my own relationship to God, I become ever more aware of my own short-comings, my failures, my sins, my… I’m thankful the love of God, a love that has given me life in Christ and assures me that there isn’t any condemnation in Christ (cf. Rom 8:1). And then as I was reading Pastrix, Nadia Bolz-Weber had this to say about grace:

Grace is when God is a source of wholeness, which makes up for my failings. My failings hurt me and others and even the planet, and God’s grace to me is that my brokenness is not the final word. My selfishness is not the end-all… instead, it’s that God makes beautiful things out of even my own s***. Grace isn’t about God creating humans as flawed beings and then acting all hurt when we inevitably fail and then stepping in like the hero to grant us grace—like saying “Oh, it’s OK, I’ll be a good guy and forgive you.” It’s God saying, “I love the world too much to let your sin define you and be the final word. I am a God who makes all things new.” (p. 48).

God.

Love.

Makes all things new!

Feast on that over the weekend. Let the grace of God be a balm to our soul. Let it transform us, forgetting the past and striving for what lies ahead (cf. Phil 3:13) to the glory of God!

Book Review: God, Freedom & Human Dignity

Among the western world, freedom is arguably the chief value we seek as democratic societies. Our freedom is what dignifies us as human beings but that evokes the question of what exactly is freedom and whether or not God is a suppressor of freedom. This is the issue that Ron Highfield* addresses in his book God, Freedom & Human Dignity: Embracing A God-Centered Identity In A Me-Centered Culture. Published in 2013 by InterVarsity Press, the book is 227 pages and includes both a subject index and scripture index. Also, to my delight, the book includes footnotes rather than endnotes.

The book aims to show why God is the foundation for true freedom and human dignity, whom we can love God and give ourselves to without loss of joy (p. 12). In order to unpack this claim, the author divides the book into two sections. In the first half, the author explores how we, as autonomous individual modern selves, the “Me-Centered” selves, conceive of freedom and view God as an obstacle to freedom. The second half of the book then explores the Christian view of God as the self-giving Father, Son, and Spirit in whom we find our true identity and gain true freedom and dignity to live as the people God has created and redeemed us to be which is a “God-centered” life. The book weaves a tapestry of theological and philosophical voices from into conversation with the biblical story, making a very solid argument for a wider range of readers. In other words, scholars and pastors will appreciate the depth of the book while students and lay people will benefit too because of the book’s accessibility.

The book demonstrates how among western culture freedom is an ideal without limitations which we must achieve through our own initiative. The problem with the western notion of freedom is that it requires the removal of every impeding obstacle and therefore satisfaction is never found because there is always another obstacle which we must overcome (p. 103). Though the modern autonomous self regards this illusion as freedom, it always falls short of true freedom. Alternatively, God is the foundation and giver of true freedom, as  Highfield demonstrates. This freedom, which is found in Christ, stems from the fact that in Christ, God has set us free from sin and death. This gives us the freedom to live as our true selves, the people whom God has created and redeemed us to be, which mirrors the image of God (p. 189-190).

One book can only do so much and will always leave the reader with unanswered questions. Having said that, I wish the book would have explored how this understanding of true freedom finds expression within the church, since the church is the collective new creation of people who belong to God in Christ. Speaking of the church, I also believe that some discussion questions at the end of each chapter would help as well. That’s because this book will make for a very useful small group discussion or even for a “Bible” class to read through. Nevertheless, this book is a great read! It is an easy and engaging read, providing a good overview along with solid theological and cultural engagement on a subject that hits very close to home for many people, including myself.

I am thankful to both Ron Highfield and IVP for providing me with a copy of this book.

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Ron Highfield, is the Blanche E. Seaver Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University where he teaches classes in systematic theology and Christianity and culture; he also serves as a Shepherd of the University Church of Christ.

A Good Minister of Christ Jesus

When I was a student at Harding University, I belonged to the “Timothy Club.” [1] This was a group for those preparing to serve as ministers of the gospel named after the Apostle Paul’s protégé Timothy. The club provided further encouragement and mentoring for ministry students beyond the college classroom. And all of these students, including myself, believed God had called us to serve as ministers and was preparing us for that task so that he may send us out. [2]

Leaders Among the Church

Paul wrote Timothy saying, “If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching you have followed” (1 Tim 4:6). Space will not permit much analysis of what “these things” are. However, the passage hints at the great responsibility Paul expected of Timothy and under different yet similar circumstances, I believe Paul expected the same of Titus.

Whether we call them ministers, evangelists, or else, the work of Timothy and Titus was a continuation of what Paul began in helping establish the churches in Ephesus and Crete.  From a cursory reading of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, this ministry involved preaching and teaching as well as administrative work, all for the purpose of building up the churches as God’s holy people. For example, when it came to addressing the concerns of widows, Paul told Timothy to “Give these commands” [2] to the church (cf. 1 Tim 5:7, NRSV).

As a minister of Christ Jesus, this responsibility comes from Jesus himself. While all good ministry involves communal discernment, it is not a responsibility subject to the church’s approval but for the sake of the church — so that the church may continue participation in the mission of God. Both Timothy and Titus were sent as leaders among the church… not the only leaders, as they were to appoint elders and deacons (cf. 1 Tim 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9), but leaders nonetheless.

The Need for Ministers

Churches today find themselves among a drastically different historical context and sometimes facing very different issues. Nevertheless, even though the circumstances are different, churches still need a minister of the gospel like Ephesus and Crete needed Timothy and Titus. Churches need ministers who spend time drinking from the deep well of God’s word so that they may preach and teach the scriptures, always pointing the church in the way of Jesus. Likewise, churches need these ministers acting administratively so that God’s people may, as followers of Jesus, increasingly become living expressions of the scriptures.

Whether a minister serves in the role of a “lead” or “senior” minister or in other specialized roles, such as a“youth” or “children’s” minister, they serve with the church as ministers called and sent by God to the church. Whatever fiscal arrangements are made for supporting a minister, these provisions should not bear upon the minister’s spiritual responsibility. This is not to suggest that there are never circumstances in which a minister has lost the ability to serve but to say that a minister’s service should not be reduced to employment.

Like elders, deacons, and even the church, ministers are not perfect. However, a good minister, one who understands the responsibility as working for God, has spent years learning and continues learning. Like Timothy, a good minister nourishes “on the truths of the faith” and has a good sense regarding what is necessary for building the church up. Likewise, a good minister is not defined by the approval of the church but whether or not that minister remains committed to that “good teaching” from the word of God.

A Final Word

There is so much more to say about the responsibility of a minister. However, in closing this essay, remember Paul’s encouragement to Timothy saying, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God…” (2 Tim 2:6). The greatest service a minister can offer the church is to do just this.

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  1. This post is dedicated to my fellow Compadres (you know who you are), who serve God and the church as ministers of the gospel. Keep up the great work!
  2. A similar article is published as the same title in Connecting 29 (March 20, 2014), a biweekly publication of the Columbia Church of Christ.
  3. The word paraggellō involves making an announcement and is an expression used throughout the New Testament in an authoritative sense, see Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3d ed., rev. Frederick William Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 760.

The Web of Faith, Love, and Hope . . . And Doubt

In my church we sing the songs Lord, Reign In Me and I Surrender All. But to actually totally surrender ourselves to the Lord and let him reign in and over every part of our life… Well, that’s difficult to do.*

I tried doing this once. I prayed to God that he would have his complete way with me, transforming me into the likeness of Christ so that he could use me for service in his kingdom however he saw fit. Then my son died.

At the time, I wondered how Kenny’s death might be part of this process. As time went on and I began to see how God was using the tragedy of our son’s death to shape me, I became afraid to pray that prayer of surrender because I was afraid of what else it might cost me.

In some ways, I still am afraid of that prayer. But I know that I’m not alone.

What I’m speaking of is the struggle to trust God. And I know that there are many Christians who struggle with this. It’s not that we don’t have faith in God or that we don’t believe in Jesus. It’s a different struggle . . . a different sort of doubt. Imagine being hit by a car as you cross a street and then being asked to cross the street again. And so it is with life!

They Got Hit!

I imagine this is part of the struggle the Thessalonians were encountering. They put their faith in Christ and were taught to live a new life in Christ, renouncing their ungodly living, with the expectation of the immanent return of Christ. But when some fellow believers passed from this life before Christ returned, they got hit! Doubt set in and questions of trust gripped the consciousness of their faith.

After giving a report on some of his ministry happenings and exhorting the Thessalonians in godly living, the apostle Paul addresses the coming of Christ (1 Thess 4:13-18). This is Paul’s way of reassuring these Christians that they have not believed in vain. Paul continues on, saying in 1 Thess 5:8-10:

“But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on the faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.”

Paul actually uses the action language of “putting on” faith, love, and hope because of the promise of life — salvation through Jesus Christ.

Keep Putting On…

As mentioned earlier, there are times when I’m still afraid to completely trust God and perhaps there always will be. Yet I do try and as I do, I am consciously aware of my own sinfulness and the need keep allowing God to transform me into the likeness of Christ. I’m also aware of how much the sting of death still haunts me, casting doubts through unanswered questions. It would be easier just to say “no” in not so many words and keep God at an arms distance away. But that isn’t faith, nor is it love and hope.

Perhaps this resonates with you, even if in different ways. My word of encouragement is Paul’s word of encouragement: keep putting on faith, love, and hope, knowing that we have received a promise of salvation that God will fulfill in its entirety when Christ returns. It’s the promise of the life that we will have together with God.

And Gathered With My Church…

As a final thought, let me say a word about the church in relation to our struggles of faith. In the larger world of Christian blogging there’s been a lot of conversation about the church lately and whether we need the church? Putting aside the theological issues with such a question, I believe that the church does matter and that we do need the church because it’s the church that helps us put on faith, love, and hope.

It’s the church that has passed on the gospel tradition we belong too and the scriptures that teach about this tradition. It is also in gathering with the church for worship, fellowship, and ministry that we remind ourselves of the truth and in doing so, assembling as a church becomes a way of putting on our faith, love, and hope. When I gather with my church, the Columbia Church of Christ, I am reminded of God’s grace and truth . . . of God’s promise in Christ. And gathered with my church, the Holy Spirit strengthens me to carry on with this web of faith, love, and hope that is sometimes mixed with doubts.

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* A similar version of this article was originally published in Connecting 29 (February 20, 2014), a biweekly publication of the Columbia Church of Christ.

Repost: Those Noble Bereans

I’ve been really busy this week and have not had the time to blog much, so let me share a post from a few years back titled Those Noble Bereans. The post is about how we read our Bibles, a subject that is of interest to me.

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In the Churches of Christ, there has been a great admiration for the Bereans. We have admired these Bereans for their “back to the Bible” legacy and for good reason. In Acts 17.11-12 we read:

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.*

For clarification sake, it should be noted before going any further that the scriptures these Bereans were examining was what we Christians refer to as the Old Testament. There wasn’t any such thing as the New Testament yet.

So this passage in Acts 17 has been the oft cited proof-text encouraging the examination of the scriptures to test whether what is being preached is truth. Like I said, there is good reason for carrying on the legacy of these Bereans and I want to encourage every one of us to read the Bible, study the Bible, and let the Bible reveal the living God and his will to us.

However, it also seems that this passage has been cited for the wrong reasons at times too–not all the time, just sometimes. Here is what I am getting at. While praising the legacy of the Bereans for their examination of scripture, there has been a tendency to overlook the disposition of the heart with which the Bereans examined the scriptures. Let’s read our passage again but pay attention to what else it tells us (which I have emphasized in italics):

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

These Bereans were both listening to the message being preached by Paul and Silas as well as examining the scriptures with an open mind and open heart. That is why they were able to receive the message “with great eagerness” and “As a result” come to belief. This means they were not examining the scriptures just to prove Paul wrong.

As a Christian, I believe we should be reading our Bible’s but I also believe it should be done with an open mind and heart. That is the legacy of the Bereans. However, I fear that this passage is sometimes cited–and I’ve heard it cited nearly all of my life–to justify an approach to scripture that simply seeks to prove others wrong. If this is our approach to scripture, I think we will succeed in accomplishing our goal every time we try. One of the things I’ve learned over time is that when we open our Bible just to prove something or someone wrong, in almost every instance we will find what we are looking for whether the Bible really says it or not.

Thus, as I said in my last post, “As Christians we can be people who have a strong faith in Jesus Christ but are humble enough to remain learners and know that some of our views regarding the Christian faith might be wrong. This requires us to never become complacent about what we’ve learned or where we are at in the way we live in the footsteps of Jesus. It requires an openness to God’s work through the Holy Spirit as we pray, read scripture, join in fellowship with other Christians, and listen to other voices so that we can hear a word from God that we have yet to hear.”

This is what it is to honor the way of the Bereans. So yes, be like the Bereans, reading and studying our Bibles but also be like the Bereans, reading and studying our Bibles with an open mind and heart.

Should We Interact? Yes!

Perhaps there isn’t any greater religious hubris than the Christian who thinks himself, his church, and the fellowship of churches that his church is affiliated with to be the only Christians. Yet this sectarian mindset is the thinking of some, perhaps many, in the fellowship known as the Churches of Christ.

But it certainly is not the thinking of every Church of Christ and thankfully so!

On the Christian Chronicle is an article titled “How Then Should We Interact?” The article discusses how some Churches of Christ are interacting with other local churches for the sake of God’s glory and mission. Of course there are still other Churches of Christ and members of the Churches of Christ who wish to remain in isolation, having nothing to do with other churches. But I am so glad that this sectarianism is dying among us, even if it is a slow process. Let it die!

Reading through the article and the comments by those among the Churches of Christ who are opposed to any interaction with other churches, I sense that the main reason for such opposition is a belief that we who call ourselves the Churches of Christ already know the complete truth of God’s word. This “we have all the truth” mentality is the root of this sectarian hubris. Not one church knows it all… not any Church of Christ nor any other church. We all know something, but not everything.

For this reason, let me clearly say that if you are a member of a Church of Christ, you have everything to gain from interacting with Christians from other churches. If you are a minister of a Church of Christ, you have everything to gain from interacting with other ministers from other churches. Just last week I attended a lunch with about fifteen other ministers from churches in Columbia and besides eating, we spent time praying and listening to a Messianic Jew share with us how he became a follower of Jesus and how we might win other Jewish people to faith in Jesus the Messiah. This week I am attending a D.Min class at Northern Seminary with ministers from various churches and we are all helping each other learn how we can better lead our own churches as followers of Jesus.

Churches of Christ… the beauty of interacting with other churches is that we need them and they need us. As more and more churches become smaller, as the American culture becomes more and more secular and post-Christian, and as more and more people suffer and grow up as unbelievers… we need them and they need us. As individual Christians, we need fellowship with those other Christians and they need fellowship with us. We never know when we might find ourselves struggling or find one of them struggling. Beyond this, not one of us knows all the truth and we might just teach each other a better understanding of God’s will if with the humility of Jesus, we’ll receive each other as a gift from God.

Some will object, suggesting that any interaction with other churches will just weaken or confuse our understanding of the Christian faith, the Bible, etc… That’s ironic since they don’t have any actual way of knowing that unless they are willing to interact with other Christians. Nevertheless, I am telling you that such a claim is bogus. My understanding of who God is, the life Jesus calls us to follow him in living, the Holy Spirit, doctrines such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and so on, have only become more robust as I learn from Christians of other churches. I am still able to say when I believe they have misunderstood the Bible at some point but I have also seen where I too have misunderstood the Bible. So how about a little more humility so that we may receive God’s blessing of our fellow Christians in those other churches.

May God be glorified as we embrace what Christ has already made every believer… One!

Preaching and the Mission of God

Per the request of a few people, I am uploading the paper I wrote for my first Doctor of Ministry class at Northern Seminary, Missional Ecclesiology, with Dr. David Fitch. I have reformatted the paper as a single-space, 13-page pdf.document.

This paper, which I have titled Preaching and the Mission of God, critically examines my own practice of preaching within the Columbia Church of Christ as we strive to participate in the mission of God. I begin by describing the doctrinal and ecclesiological formation of the Churches of Christ in order to understand how this bears upon my own preaching. Following this, I explore this formation in light of the cultural transition from a modern and Christendom culture, which the ethos of the Churches of Christ emerged in, to a postmodern and post-Christendom culture. The paper the turns with a focus on the mission of God and the role the church is to play within this mission in order to understand how I must engage in the practice of preaching.

Though the paper focuses on my own practice of preaching, I hope it will help others think critically about the practice of preaching — especially those who minister among Churches of Christ. So here is the paper:

Preaching and the Mission of God

Leading Churches: Credibility Matters!

“Do first and ask for apologies later,” said someone. Have you ever heard that line? I have. On several occasions as a matter of fact. In fact, I’ve even used it myself and sometimes it’s true… though only sometimes. However, those “sometimes” are very few and far in-between. In fact, I can think of many ways in which this is just unwise advise.

Leaders Don’t Have a Blank Check!

All leader’s make mistakes because every leader is human and as I said, sometimes you must simple do and be ready to apologize if necessary. However, the truth is that this “do first and ask for an apology later” does not come with a blank check. It comes with a very small credit line and once that credit line is crossed, you lose credibility as a leader.

The obvious way leaders lose credibility is moral failure. I can think of several prominent cities where the mayor or mayoral candidate lost credibility. The latest example involves the unfolding scandal that Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto is facing. But. . . And this is important, moral failures are not the only way to lose credibility. Leaders can lose credibility by the decisions they make that end up failing at a great cost.

Let me share two examples involving U.S. Presidents losing credibility because of the decisions they made. The first example involves former President George W. Bush and his decision regarding the war in Iraq. This was a war waged under the pretense that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction ready to use. However, as the war dragged on, costing lives and money without ever finding these weapons, many Americans came to judge the war as mistake and lost confidence in Bush’s ability to lead the nation. Fast forward to 2013 and President Obama’s handling the launch of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare.” Like it or not, it is a controversial policy which means it already comes with challenge. However, with the recent problems regarding the healthcare website, the President’s credibility is now in question. Time will tell whether he gains back some of the credibility he appears to have lost but there is still a lesson to learn here.

The truth is, poor decisions will cost a leader his or her credibility. Even though that seems pretty obvious, it’s never so obvious for the leader.

Follow Me Into Unchartered Waters!

Any ways, I don’t care about presidential politics and I’m not interested in debating the politics of President Bush and President Obama. What I do care about is leading churches to live on mission with God and the challenge of leadership this requires. In many ways, we are living on the frontier of a new era… postmodernism, post-christendom, secularization, globalization, and so on. The challenges are great and are requiring us to rethink how we do ministry, how live within the community, and what it means to participate in the mission of God.

In leading churches to live on mission with God, what is needed good conversational partners. Theological education is very important, seminars and conferences are nice, and reading books is even nicer. Good conversational partners who understand the task at hand and are able to help think through challenging issues… priceless!

Besides having other ministers and friends outside the church we serve in as conversational partners, there is a need for a team of conversational partners within the church. For larger churches, such partners might be other ministry staff. However, if you serve a small church, as I do, where you are thee singular minister, then such conversation partners must come from other church members. These are members who, having shown through commitment and character, that they can help listen for God’s leading, reflect on what God might be saying, and discern what God wants the church to do next. Having such a team just might help avoid some of the unwise decision making that will cost a minister his or her credibility.

Some might ask how much the competency of these conversation partners matter. That’s a good question but not one that I worry as much about because I see it also as an opportunity to teach about missional living and missional church.

What I do know is that good decisions are rarely, if ever, made by one person thinking alone. So find some conversational partners because the way forward is in many ways unchartered waters and as always, credibility is the currency to lead the church into these waters.

Coffee With The Preacher: Churches of Christ Seeking Renewal

I have read a lot of blogs over the last year discussing the problems Churches of Christ are facing. Whether you agree or disagree, you’re likely aware of the perceived issues. So skipping through most of those details, let’s talk about a church facing decline that is seeking a new minister because I believe what we’re asking for and what needs to happen moving forward.*

Your Church Wants to Grow But. . .

Let’s talk about what we expect when a new minister arrives to serve with the church so that the new era is not just more of the same. “We want to grow and reach the lost without doing anything new. . . different,” said not a church. Yet there’s more reality to that than many churches realize.

One particular church that has been in decline for sometime placed an ad on a website seeking a new minister. The advertisement started out saying:

“We are a congregation of about sixty members searching for an experienced, energetic, and mission-minded minister who can help us grow.”

That’s a noble desire but I wonder, will this church and the many others seeking the same thing, listen to the minister and let that minister lead them in such renewal? A second question that needs to be asked, why does the church want to grow?

Let’s get something out that you probably know but probably isn’t thought through enough. There’s a difference between wanting to grow as a church living on mission with God and wanting the church to grow simply for the sake of self-preservation. The issue here is that God is not in the business of growing churches just to keep them in existence. What God wants is for churches to join him in his mission and while such an adventurous pursuit normally results in growth, it also requires change.

The Six Letter, “Four Letter” Word.

That’s right! Change! It’s six letter “four letter” word in many churches but if a church is going to grow. . . That is, if a church is going to participate in the mission of God, change is inevitable. We should also expect that some of these changes will be drastic. Just look at some of the churches that are growing and bearing great gospel fruit, there are many differences between them and churches that have been in decline. 

It’s illogical to think that we can expect different results without doing something different. . . without change. In fact, that is the classic definition of insanity, right? However, let’s remember: following Jesus involves change! As individual Christians and as churches, the Spirit is constantly seeking to transform us. So we should expect to change, first in the way we the renewing of our minds and then in the way we live as a church.

What a minister wants, and I can speak for this, is to know what sort of changes the church anticipates. Likely the minister already has a vision for growth, missional renewal, and so on. What the minister wants to know is whether the church understands what it’s seeking when it says “we want a mission-minded minister to help us grow.” So does the church have an idea of what sort of changes are necessary? Is the church open to such changes? Will the church give the minister permission to lead them through such changes, so that the church can grow as a vibrant and healthy community on mission with God?

Identifying and Making The Changes

“So let’s sit down over a cup of coffee and talk about change.” That’s what needs to happen in most churches. Ask the hard questions about why the church has been in decline and look inward before pointing elsewhere. Be open and ask for the perspective minister’s thoughts one why some Churches of Christ are declining and what needs to happen in order to step into a season of renewal. Take a look at what some other healthy and vibrant churches are doing. It may or may not work since one size never fits all. However, the Churches of Christ that are facing decline can learn something from other churches outside of our fellowship. 

When the new minister arrives, have more conversations. . . preferably over some Sumatra roast in a local owned coffee roastery. But that’s just my suggestion.

Seriously though, give the minister permission to lead and be open to such leadership. I know there are some “power-driven, ego-trippin’, me, myself, and I,” ministers, just as there are in elders and other church leaders too. But this is not so with most ministers, who want nothing more than to serve as a leader, as one preaching, teaching, and equipping the church to live as a vibrant and healthy community that grows as it bears the fruitful gospel witness.

The Columbia Church of Christ, where I serve now is on this journey with you. We are trying to lean deeper into the Mission of God as we seek to grow. We don’t have all the answers and we don’t know specifically where this will take us  but we trust the Lord, Jesus Christ, whom we follow. In the meantime we have been partnering with Mission Alive which seeks to equip communities on mission with God. Missions Resource Network is another organization affiliated with the Churches of Christ that might be of help.

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* I am thankful to my friends and ministry colleagues (they know who they are) who read an earlier draft and suggested some necessary corrections.