Once again man has taken a precious gem of God and reduced it to a non-productive form.
As newly churched, I will never forget sitting in John and Carolyn Taylor's house in 1970 in Quincy, Illinois. They were telling my Catholic wife and Presbyterian me about a thing called the Restoration Movement. It was a wild idea from God that had swept America from the east.
Racoon John Smith, Daniel Sommers, Alexander Campbell, and David Lipscomb headlined the study of leaders of various church brands growing toward one another in a new and refreshing spiritual movement.
The Taylors painted an incredible new church culture. All variations of beliefs moving toward one in Jesus.
I wanted in on it.
I still do.
However, the Church of Christ has made human moves which severely impede this rich concept; all the while claiming it is still perpetuating it. I say we are killing it. We have become the very thing we thought we weeded out; a denomination.
Our Restoration Movement should be retitled The Preservation Movement. The explanation for such a sad development is one; fear. Being the only ones right (our proud and misguided assumption) has fossilized a generation or two into a frozen body of narrow habitual believers; but not lively spiritual ones.
Many a dying church has thanked God for that passage that speaks of the narrow way. Few doesn't bug us. It never occurs to us that the narrow here refers to Jesus being the only one rather than an explanation (and sorry excuse) as to why we are losing our own members.
Rigidity has proven arthritic to the body of Christ. Fear of What will this lead to? coupled with the man-created doctrine of silence of the scriptures have proven to shut down a tremendous movement of inspiration as well as outreach.
Yet, just as God kept a remnant going, I see the Restoration Movement breaking out from where its roots were in the first place. In connecting with other church brands and their leaders, it is quite clear that we are not the only ones drawing closer to God's restoration of the church.
I have many Baptist, Community, Presbyterian, Anglican, and Methodist leader/friends who are just as devoted to studying the Bible as we are. Furthermore, they possess tender hearts for God. While we press our Preservation Movement, others are experiencing the beauty of the Restoration Movement.
Doctrines of men are being laid aside in many fronts for the pure meat and milk of the Word. Barriers among churches are dissolving from biblical perspective. The Restoration Movement is not owned by Churches of Christ. It started without us and will continue without us if we continue our ignorant and arrogant stance that no one knows their Bibles like we know ours.
As we should, we continue to make good strides in learning our scriptures; but we have developed a church culture among us that does not know Jesus. Fact.
This is more devastating than any nuclear threat from North Korea. At my age and my service time, I am wowed and thrilled that a movement I thought had been ruined is alive and well. I found it among others not like us; yet they are much like what I read about us in our earlier years.
The denominational world isn't as stupid as we have been told. Neither are they deceptive. In many ways they are more the way we assume ourselves to be than we really are.
For any church leaders who are wondering why we are losing our people, I've risked to share one of the reasons. We cannot continue to assure our people that we are the one true church because we think we can prove it by reading Ephesians. If we are not open to the Holy Spirit's direct involvement among us, we are a dead people trying to move our lips.
When the Spirit of Christ is central in our walk, we will find stiffness, suspicion, and rigidity being shed. Flexibility, renewal, and surprise offer new life with new hope to a rejuvenated generation. We will then be restored.