The Future of the Progressive Churches of Christ: The Christian Standard Weighs In (Introduction)

cooperation.jpgSome time ago, I posted a series of articles asking about the future of the progressive Churches of Christ. Are we going to merge with the independent Christian Churches? Become a collection of detached community churches with no common works? A new denomination? You see, no one is talking about where we go from here. We’ve shed ourselves of some truly bad theology, great things are happening, but as a community of congregations, what’s the plan?

Well, thanks to the recommendation of Alan Rouse, I subscribed to the Christian Standard. The Standard was founded by Isaac Errett before the Civil War and is, I believe, the oldest Restoration Movement periodical that’s been in continuous publication. And although the Churches of Christ often buy books and Sunday school material from Standard Publishing (its parent company), the periodical is largely unknown among the a cappella Churches of Christ.

But I’ve quickly come to appreciate it and I heartily recommend it. The Christian Standard offers a useful blend of doctrine and practice, leadership and reflection. Unlike the Gospel Advocate and its ilk, the Standard makes a point to present both sides of the issues. For example, it recently published an issue with articles on both sides of the role-of-women question. Good stuff.

And unlike, say, the Christian Chronicle, the Christian Standard has taken the notion of unity in Christ seriously — so seriously that they publish many articles written by us in the a cappella Churches of Christ. They truly strive to include all autonomous congregations within the Restoration Movement. I don’t know why the a cappella Churches of Christ seem incapable of publishing anything that presents more than one side of an issue!

The September issue is captioned “Five Questions for the Restoration Movement,” and it asks about what the future of the Movement should be. At last! People in positions of leadership and influence are asking these important questions!

Hence, I plan to post a few thoughts around those questions.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink.
My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.

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3 Responses to The Future of the Progressive Churches of Christ: The Christian Standard Weighs In (Introduction)

  1. Joe Baggett says:

    I too have read the Christian Standard usually on their website. While it does present balanced articles from the broader spectrum of the Restoration Movement churches. To me it is pointless to continue arguing our little battles. Who will decide for all the churches of Christ if they will openly fellowship those in the independent Christian churches? We have no Pope or bishop to decide these things for an entire religious group.
    Now for the future of the churches of Christ who are questioning (studying for themselves) what they have always understood and coming up with some different conclusions. There will inevitably be a continued separation from traditional churches of Christ it is already documented and evident. There are certain leaders within the traditional churches of Christ who have taken on as their main mission to destroy and alienate anyone who does not adhere to what they believe. So through formal organizational alliance they will be cut off by what Joe Beam calls “Zealots” in his diagram of this phenomenon. Many of the, and I hate to use this term “Progressive churches of Christ” are gaining members from other area churches of Christ; this is a well that will be drying up drying soon. So soon they will like all the churches in USA be forced to engage the un churched and the de-churched from the emerging generation X and Y if they want to represent a demographic other than the rapidly aging and declining white middle class. They are poised to this better almost any other religious group if they can break themselves from the toxic poison of legalism and stop worrying about maintaining denomination ties with the traditional churches of Christ. Or what the church of Christ down the street or on the other side of town thinks of them. Here is Joe Beams description of this issue….
    In 10-15 years the rest of the WWII builder generation (those born before 1945) will die of old age. The Baby Boomers will not continue to live indefinitely though they are living longer than any other generation in American history. In the next 10-30 years most of them (boomers born between 1945-1965) will reach the age of life expectancy. The latest report shows that by 2042 the white middle class will no longer be the majority. The record low birth rate among white middle class that started in 1990 will continue to drop just as it has in other similar parts of the postmodern world such as Germany, Italy and Japan. So the “progressive churches of Christ will have to make significant relationships with people who are not like them by race, age, socio-economic level etcetera. Numerically they will eventually have to make enough disciples out of non-white middle class people to make up for those who leave church for whatever reason (especially the younger), those who are and will be dying of old age, and those who have not and will not be born. This is shear reality.

  2. Hal says:

    I think the reason that the "conservative" publications never publish both sides of an issue is because they only recognize one side. I believe that pretty much sums up legalism.
    As for the interesting comment by Joe that we are moving toward a time when we will be forced to engage the unchurched and the de-churched of our society…isn't that what we were called to do in the first place?! 🙂

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