I’ve just finished reading (mostly) and skimming (partly) your series on the future of the progressive movement in the Churches of Christ. My wife and I are looking for a new church, and yes, we want it to be in a certain spot on the spectrum that exists within the Churches of Christ. Do you know if there is a directory online that gives more information about congregations rather than just name, address, phone number, and website? I don’t know if I’m looking for a checklist, but some information about whether grace is taught, but a normal (read: similar to that which has been for 2000 years) view of what sin is, is taught as well. It would also (in my perfect world) say whether or not they sing songs written before 1960 on a regular basis (and songs written before 1690 as well). Also, it would address the attitude of the congregation toward a child who decides to let out a cry or laugh during communion or the sermon.
We need a church that understands mental illness. My own view of it is that as we get further and further away from the perfect genomes as created in Adam and Eve, more and more is getting messed up in our bodies. This makes things like Huntington’s Disease, other heritable diseases, and other conditions where the body doesn’t work correctly not punishments for sin, but results of the Fall, and to be handled with compassion, not contempt and stigmatization. My son suffers from [specified] disorders.
We’ve been around to a different congregation, but we found that that it’s difficult for people to understand our son. The first night we were there, we heard a sermon condemning a strawman premillennialism. This set off a few warning bells in my head, but not enough to move on immediately. What we’re looking for is a church that understands grace, but also understands that there is still sin. We want a church that is not afraid of the Restoration Movement traditions, but isn’t running from them either–IE, they’ll sing 728b, O Sacred Head, and As The Deer in a single service, and it won’t be 80% songs that were written after I was born. We want one where neither silent contemplation nor singing during communion is frowned upon, and both are practiced corporately, and often. We want a church that understands that we have roots going back 2000 years, some going back 150, and some new shoots that are growing all the time. We are also looking for a congregation that will accept our son and not blame us for being bad parents with the smallest behavioral incidents. We also are hoping to find one that does have an active outreach program, but does not neglect spiritual growth of members. Because of the situation with our son, my wife and I are more in need of support ourselves than we are capable of giving support to others, but we know that Jesus founded a church, not a Society of Religious Navel-Gazers.
I know you most likely don’t know all the ins and outs of every congregation in the Dallas area, but if you know someone who would, I would appreciate names and email addresses. Also, if you know of a directory of congregations that doesn’t mince words when it comes to a congregations positions on grace and sin, as well as some of the other positions that define the differences between the progressive and traditionalist CoCs, I would thank you for it.