“Learning the ropes” is a nautical expression from the days of sailing the oceans. Any new crewman has to learn the ropes to know what to pull or loosen to make the ship go in the right direction. Some large boats have 20 tons of rope!
For a new elder or minister, the Restoration Movement ropes are many things, but our institutions are some of the ropes. Where do you go to hire a youth minister? Who can teach you how to run a missions program? Who can help resolve a conflict before it becomes a split? Where should you urge your children to attend college to train for the ministry?
Where do you find good Restoration Movement Sunday school material? Who knows about inner city ministries? or affordable housing?
I’ve complained before about the difficulty of learning about Church of Christ institutions. In fact, while I was at Pepperdine, a young woman from another congregation in my home town showed up at my talk. She hadn’t even known Pepperdine is affiliated with the Churches of Christ! She just happened to be there on business, saw the crowd, asked about it, and was given a brochure. She saw that someone from her hometown was speaking and came by the say hello!
You see, we do a terrible job of making each other aware of Church of Christ things — our universities, our mission works, our many ministries …
Nowadays, the challenge is even greater as we try to integrate the Churches with former International Church of Christ congregations and with the independent Christian Churches. A unity effort doesn’t mean much if we don’t know much about each other.
The following is from a sermon by Rick Atchley, quoted at page 33 in Together Again, written by RIck and Bob Russell regarding the re-unification of the Churches of Christ and independent Christian Churches –
I can imagine a day — soon — when our preachers are filling each other’s pulpits and speaking at each other’s conventions. I can imagine a day soon when our churches are partnering together to send mission teams into the world, to do local outreaches in our cities, to feed the hungry, to help the wounded in every major city in America. I can imagine the vision of the Restoration forefathers being restored and the prayer of Jesus being fulfilled. For 100 years we have served God apart. Only God knows what we can do in the 100 years serving him together. But I know this: it will be more than we can ask or imagine. Amen.
So here’s my idea. I’m going to try to do a series of posts introducing the readers to parachurch organizations from all three fellowships. I’ll not say a lot about each (at least, that’s the plan) but will link to their various websites with a brief introduction.
Now, to do this, I need your help. I know next to nothing about the independent Christian Churches. There are none here in West Alabama. And I don’t know much about the ICOC at the institutional level. So I’d appreciate whatever guidance you can offer. Let me know which institutions practice a grace-based Christianity and which are still caught up in legalism.
I think I’ll start with colleges and universities of all three fellowships. I’ll follow that with church planting organizations within each, and then likely head toward missions organizations. Please email with anything that might help. jfguin(at)comcast.net. It would be much appreciated and, I pray, a blessing to the re-unification effort.