Churches of Christ: Why They Left: Introduction

Why They Left: Listening to Those Who Have Left Churches of Christ by Flavil R. Yeakley, Jr.The Gospel Advocate has recently published Why They Left: Listening to Those Who Have Left Churches of Christ by Flavil R. Yeakley, Jr. (Sadly, not available in electronic form.)

Dr. Yeakley has long served as an un-official statistician for the Churches of Christ, and his work has been extremely valuable to the Churches. It’s due to Dr. Yeakley’s research that we know that the Churches of Christ are in decline in terms of members, members and adherents (members plus unbaptized children), and congregations.

In this book, he looks at the available data as to why this is so. It’s a valuable resource and much appreciated.

Dr. Yeakley has been sounding this alarm for a while, but until now, the reaction of far too many of our thought leaders has been denial or dismissal: “It’s a glitch,” “At least others are losing more members than we are!” “Numbers don’t matter.”

And there is an argument for “Numbers don’t matter.” Indeed, we should very seriously reflect on that question. Those who advocate for this position typically come from either of two very different directions.

* Some argue that numbers don’t matter because our job is to plant and water and God gives the increase. If we’re not growing, it’s God’s fault for not giving the increase!

I find this line of argumentation sacrilegious, even blasphemous. If we’re not growing, it’s not because God doesn’t keep his promises! It’s because we aren’t planting or watering — or because we’re planting and watering the wrong seed.

* Some argue that the numbers don’t matter because our members are merely transferring to churches of other denominations — they aren’t abandoning Jesus. There’s a lot of truth to this, but there remain at least two serious problems this response doesn’t address —

— First, if our members are abandoning our congregations for others, something is decidedly unhealthy. Either we are doing a poor job as churches, and so they are moving to a better place to serve Jesus. Or else we’re teaching them so poorly that they prefer an inferior form of Christianity.

So often we blame those who leave, accusing them of having a preference for “entertainment” or tickled ears or whatever. But we had these people in our congregations for their entire lives. If they have immature, shallow hearts, isn’t that at least partly our own fault?

— Second, while some of our own members leave for other denominations, an amazing number are leaving all expressions of organized Christianity. They may have a faith of sorts, but they reject the Christian community entirely. Thus, our churches are producing an astonishing number of departures from the congregational life of any denomination.

Again, there are arguments that this is not so bad. After all, one can believe in Jesus and not be part of an organized congregation. Moreover, many people gather in house churches that aren’t in the Yellow Pages and therefore are untrackable by those taking surveys.

But one of God’s specific purposes in saving us is to form his children into a loving, missional community. The gospel is about much more than salvation, and it’s not possible to live the life God envisions for us or for God to further his mission through us as he wishes as individuals. That’s Western radical individuality talking, not God or his Scriptures.

I’m familiar with Barna’s teachings on house churches, and there are certainly many very fine Christian families who form Christian communities in this fashion. I just don’t think there is any evidence that those who abandon the Churches of Christ are leaving the Churches in order to form house churches in substantial numbers. Some are, but if we think all our former members are going to church somewhere, somehow, we’re fooling ourselves.

We’ll learn more about the numbers as we work through Yeakley’s report. For now, the cold, hard reality is that our numbers are in decline, many of those who are leaving us have utterly abandoned the visible church (of any denomination), and indeed many have lost their faith altogether.

And the numbers are net figures. Yes, it’s true that many leave the Churches once they leave home, only to return when they marry and have children, but the numbers Yeakley reports are net numbers, that is, they include both those leaving and those returning. And it’s a net loss.

Moreover, the fact that our children very nearly routinely leave church upon leaving home, only to return when they have children, warns us that we must be — somehow — teaching them that church only has value for children. They learned that from their parents or someone. That behavior didn’t come from nowhere.

The time for rationalization and denial is over. It’s time to seriously reflect on how we’ve messed up and how we can do better. And Yeakley’s book is an excellent place to begin, because the facts matter.

I don’t think the book goes nearly far enough. But it’s a very helpful, very necessary start.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

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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46 Responses to Churches of Christ: Why They Left: Introduction

  1. LoriBelle says:

    I may also add (not, of course, having read the book), that another problem I see for the decline in children continuing is this: too often Christianity doesn’t run deeper than the time spent at the building. In the homes, Bibles aren’t read, children are not walked along the way with, godliness is not exercised in every aspect of one’s life. Therefore, to some they may look at their parents and wonder, “What’s the significance? What’s the point?” God is not seen as REAL and REALLY making a difference. “Because of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold.” 🙁

  2. It is what is behind these statistics that reveals the greatest sadness.

    Statistics are a measure of what has happened. It is a measure of mathematical differences between groups, subject, or data sets that are static, like a picture of a moving train at one moment in time. Repeated measures give a measure of change and a direction of the vector.

    Yeakley’s analysis concerns events that have happened. It is retrospective. The measures have been repetitive, consistent, and have shown a continuous trend for 30 years or more. What kept the CoC from being “prospective” during this time? What kept the prophecies of “this is what will happen” from being listened to by the majority? Why are we not reading an analysis of “We give glory to Jesus Christ because they are knocking on the door of the church to get in?” If “and the Lord added to their number” worked in the N.T., is the reverse true today – “and the Lord deducted from their number?” It happened right under their noses, but they were so “stiff-necked with uncircumcised hearts and ears” (Acts 7:51) that they were in denial. And what about the rest of the verse, “You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit.”

    Christianity today (and the CoC in particular, since that is the group from which the data were taken) is in a natural cycle in a handbasket because it has sown to the flesh, and it still does. It’s nice that the cessation doctrine is becoming less influential (can we say,”dying out first”) but the seed has been sown and the harvest is now. And it is interesting that the Gospel Advocate is publishing these data, because the influence of that brotherhood beacon, along with others, has been a significant influence in quenching the Spirit’s fire in the CoC.

    Why are people in denial of the obvious? Is it because they think so highly of themselves that they can’t be wrong? What else but attrition should one expect from attitudes driven by pride and idolatry? We have policed our doctrine against contamination by demonizing those not of our interpretative tribe and by labeling and name calling. How about “progressive” and “liberal” and “fundamentalist” for labels of intended condemnation? Okay then, how about “diminishing,” “dying,” and “dead?” Are those better?

    Can we realize that there are many groups of people who are studying the relationship between religion and human evolution? According to these studies, religion was a necessary tool during evolution for humans to develop the social skills needed to survive as a tribe instead of an isolated free for all. These studies have yielded a long list of behaviors that are found in religious groups which are categorized in totally humanistic and natural terms, including those behaviors involving those behaviors that the group ascribes to a deity. These behaviors include intra-tribal fidelity, feuds between tribes, evolution of tribal beliefs, wars against opposing tribes (labeled as “evil”) using defaming words (or more), development of a reason-based belief system that justifies what they want to think for their own perceived survival purposes, denial and rejection of anything to the contrary even to a sublime extreme, repeated rituals, and on and on and on. Get the picture that this is a description of evolved human behavior — aka natural, fleshly, sinful, Adam?

    Why should anyone give a dip about this? Because it describes the behavior of Christians (in the CoC because that is the group from which the data came) as they have interacted with each other across congregations and subgroups for many, many years. It can be explained by studies of humanistic behavior.

    So, what about the CoC (or other Christian groups) is different from that description? Do people see that difference? What does the world say? What are our own members saying? Does that tell us anything? Has it yet?

    If a group justifies their doctrine by claiming that the Spirit’s work was finished at the end of the first century, what is there to carry on past that, except humanism? Not that they define the Spirit out of existence for everyone, they just deny His work in their group.

    What and when will these humanistic attitudes change into a new creation, acting like people who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus and not just claiming “fully redeemed” on their advertising web site?

    I’ll shut the door behind me.

  3. John says:

    Reasons people leave: 1) hypocrisy of other members, 2) arrogance of other members, 3) infighting, 4) an entitlement culture, 5) a failure to be different from the world by giving only shallow lip service to the sermon on the mount and numerous other kindred passages in our teaching and lives, 6) Bad mouthing our brethren in front of our children, 7) equating discipleship with church attendance, 8 ) failure to duplicate the early church in reaching out to the less fortunate, 9) other. Elders and ministers bear a heavy responsibility for 5 and 8.

  4. John says:

    I have no idea where that smiley face came from. That is supposed to be number 8.

  5. LoriBelle says:

    You must have accidentally typed a “)” after your number 8. 8) haha

  6. LoriBelle says:

    Oh, yep! I see you put a bracket after all your numbers. Brackets after the number 8 form a smiley face wearing glasses. LOL

  7. Joe Baggett says:

    I am an industrial Engineer. Explaining trends in Data and tying it to concrete information is a big part of what I do for manufacturing organizations.
    I met with Flavil in 2007 with some of this data. It was trivialized. Except for my parents and grandmother our entire extended family has left the churches of Christ for other churches or no faith at all (only cousins in their 30s). Our family has c of C roots going back to the 1850s.
    The ones who left for other churches did so because of deep theological differences and a desire to evangelize but were reluctant to bring them the c of C because of the deep theological differences.
    In a report recently cited in the news those claiming to have no religion are the fastest growing group in the US. The desire to control, convince others that their brand of religion is correct even to damnation, and over politicizing over Christian ideas was cited as the number one reason why people who grew up in church left for no faith at all.
    Flavil and others like him are still stuck in the 1950s comparing the c of C to other denominations and filtering data and other things through those lenses.
    We must wake up and realize that we are sociologically, culturally, and demographically in a post modern, secularly human world. Until that fact is widely accepted and understood the majority of influential leaders in the churches of Christ nothing will change.

  8. Amy says:

    theophilus.dr, I wish I could give you a thumbs up.

    I left because one day I realized the people we were most like was the Pharisees. IN fact, I’ve been taught most of my life that the problem with the Pharisees is that they just didn’t try hard enough.

    No grace, no Holy Spirit active in our lives, no practical help in a crisis, no real change in the lives of others in the congregation, no hope.

    One day someone finally asked me, “If you believe that the Holy Spirit stopped being interactive after the New Testament was compiled and yet you are striving to live like a New Testament Christian, how are you supposed to know how to do that? If the rules changed after the writing was done, what do you do?” I had no answer for that.

    Of course, I suspect I grew up in a more “conservative” denomination (who might have kicked me out for suggesting they are a denomination). I left because I realized if my salvation was up to me, I was cooked. I’m not tough enough or good enough to be coC. I need a Savior, not an example.

  9. Todd Collier says:

    I was among the first folks who Flavil presented his date to back in ’07. When I brought the materials back to my elders they accused me of fudging the numbers myself. Heads in the sand all the way.

  10. ao says:

    Jay,

    I’m really thankful that you’re going to be blogging through this book. In fact, I was so hoping that you’d do it that I considered writing you an email asking you to. I’m glad I didn’t even have to ask. =)

    The reason that I wanted you to blog through it was because, after reading the book, I was actually very disappointed with much of it, and I wanted to figure out whether it was just me that was disturbed with Yeakley’s analysis. For example, you said:

    So often we blame those who leave, accusing them of having a preference for “entertainment” or tickled ears or whatever.

    The odd thing to me was that Yeakley does just that many times throughout the book. On the chapters on women’s roles and instrumental music, Yeakley quotes from the people who left, saying that they were doctrinally wrong (or misinformed or underinformed) for leaving. For a statistician, he spends a lot of time giving a theological defense of the traditional positions on those issues, sometimes implying and other times explicitly stating that these are non-negotiable issues and that the people who left CoC’s for these reasons were wrong for leaving. He openly critiques his own survey respondents, pointing out the ways in which they are doctrinally wrong. Then he says that the solution to those problems is that preachers should preach MORE on why instrumental music is wrong and why women can’t be leaders. He even says at one point that if you are in a CoC and you think that instrumental music is okay, it’d be better for you to keep your mouth shut or go somewhere else.

    This is all the more surprising considering that, on the chapter on marriage-divorce-remarriage, he takes a very gracious view, says that equally rigorous Biblical scholars can disagree on it, that intrachurch dialogue on THIS issue would be a good thing, and that we should be more sensitive to not alienate some members by being dogmatic on this doctrinal issue.

    One of the things that I liked so much about Kinnaman & Lyon’s “UnChristian” was that they were deeply introspective about the criticisms that outsiders leveled against Christianity. They weren’t defensive, and they offered some really thoughtful ways forward. But on women’s roles, instrumental music, and ecumenism, Yeakley takes a very defensive stance, criticizes his survey respondents for their erroneous doctrine, and provides the remedy that we should preach the traditional view on these issues MORE. I also cannot understand (well, actually, I can) why he took an extremely gracious, introspective approach to M-D-R, but took a blame-the-respondent approach on women’s roles, instrumental music, and related issues.

  11. “I hear you,” Amy, and you are right on. And I understand the comparison to Pharisees.

    About the only reason I can remain in the CoC is if I can continue to be a royal pain in the neck of legalism. I understand legalism all too well. I grew up believing that a pitch pipe or a piano in your private home were condemned as instrumental music, that having an “Easter” sermon dishonored the Lord’s Supper, that using any religious images on Christmas cards (or even the stamps!) was sinful because it honored one day above another, that the Holy Spirit was the Word only, that the earth was created in 6004 BC and anyone who said differently was an atheist, and that the CoC was the only group who had established real NT Christianity, as established on the day of Pentecost. And I marveled at how Satan had duped the understanding of so many people to the plain, obvious truth. “…in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless” (Phil 3:6). Oh, but there is a God.

    Leroy Garrett’s book, “What Must the Church of Christ Do To Be Saved,” asks the question that the people on the Day of Pentecost did, in a sort of “play on words.” The listeners at Pentecost, however, had been “cut to the heart” by the sermon, and they had responded to the appeal by the Holy Spirit’s message through Peter. Have we in the CoC been “cut to the heart” by the Holy Spirit to repent as Leroy suggests in his book? Have we asked what the CoC needs to do to be saved, or has there been a different response?

    The Greek word for “cut to the heart” used in Acts 2:37 is also used in Act 7:54, where it is more faithfully translated in the KJV than NIV. Stephen was filled with the Spirit and hit them with the truth, and what was the Jews’ response – they covered their ears, refused to listen, operated in denial, and defended their tribe and their doctrine which was being threatened — they rushed upon Stephen and killed him. Quite a different response to “cut to the heart” by the Spirit’s message than was seen on the Day of Pentecost.

    Same Spirit, same message of the gospel, same forceful presentation, same effect (cut to the heart), but opposite responses – on Pentecost they asked the right question — the Sanhedrin didn’t ask questions because they already knew the doctrinal answers. The Sanhedrin acted out of the natural flesh like a gang of primitive evolved primates.

    Which one of these examples has been our model in the CoC? Have we been cut to the heart by the Holy Spirit? What question have we asked? How have we acted? More like evolved primates or like children of God created in His image?

    We should be able to “reverse engineer” and see our real question by the response the world gives back to us. The response of the world is not positive when they see a Pharisaical quality of the testimony. Yackley has the answer in his data. Previous posts confirm what I have always heard — that he is in as much or more denial about what the data reflect as anyone. Maybe that’s why the Gospel Advocate will publish it.

    Sometimes when someone takes an uncharacteristically graceful position on some issue compared to everything else, it is because they have seen through experience that the old legalistic approach doesn’t work, and so they are forced to rethink their interpretation of the scriptures. They need the same experience on the other legalisms as well. Sounds like it would be helpful to the church for people to make a pilgrimage on foot down a dusty road leading to Damascus and pray that their legalistic attitudes will be struck and fall from their eyes like scales so that they can see the light of the Spirit. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

  12. eric says:

    I think the problem may be summed up in one of two ways. Many churches of all denominations have become part of the service industry, yet in the wrong way. There was a time when you hunted and grew your own food. Now you go to a store and pick it up or to a restaurant where they cook it for you. If you needed water you went and got it, now you twist a nob and someone has made it so water runs out. It’s really great in a way but not so much in the church. It’s not enough to pay a preacher and a youth minister and other staff and expect the poor to be tended to or your neighbor to be witnessed to or the hungry feed and so on. We are the body and it reaches others when they see us doing those things. The world at large sees the church telling them how they should and should not live and their not asking. But who could complain about feeding the hungry or supporting orphans and widows.
    My second point is very close to the first. We need allow members to be involved. When I turned 18 the church I was attending which had a great youth group told me I couldn’t come to youth group anymore. So I asked could I help or was there something else for me to do? The answer was that I could go to the Sunday morning class for my age. So I did. Me and two other people then me and one other person then me and the teacher. After that I guess it was just the teacher. I felt useless and bored. So for several years I didn’t go anywhere. Thankfully when I did come back they had changed. They wanted me to serve and that made all the difference. I realize I was immature or I would have found a place to serve somewhere but it really helped me to mature when I was given some direction.

  13. Adam Legler says:

    Aren’t we the church wherever we are at? Matt Dabbs had a great post on the difference between lost spiritually vs. just not having a church home. http://mattdabbs.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/how-to-reach-lost-generation-parable-of-the-60-lost-sheep/

    Now, I believe it’s important to have a congregation to call home, but is there another way to approach this? What if the number of saved has not shrunk, just the number who regularly attend services and haven’t gotten sick of many of the reasons others here have already listed?

    People are amazingly spiritual, they are just done with religion being done in an outdated, bad way. But that does put them in a sensitive position to be dragged off by Satan. Are those who have left really as confused as we think they are about Jesus or do they find themselves closer to God by not being around those who say they are His?

    Just some questions.

  14. Pingback: Why They Left – Relea5ed

  15. Price says:

    I have to admit that I find it somewhat entertaining to listen to the debate on why we’re so concerned that people aren’t willing to label themselves as we do… And yet the CoC can’t make up it’s mind who it really is…There are so many fractions and divisions that to say people are leaving the CoC needs to be entirely clarified…Which CoC ?? But, assuming that “most” are “traditional conservatives”, why is it so unsettling that people are leaving and why would it be great for people to be joining our “brand” of religion… It seems to me to be an exercise in self awareness and pride.

    Paul considered his religious training and pedigree to be nothing more than poop compared to knowing Jesus… It seems to me that most CoC folks prefer their pedigree to Jesus, otherwise they would recognize the other sinners saved by grace as brothers and sisters instead of those denominationalists, heathens, liberals and otherwise damned to hell sinners who believe in miracles…

  16. The body of Christ is universal and cuts across any human assigned name, organization, building, or brand of membership. English fails to capture the meaning of words when they have multiple definitions and this can be used for sarcasm, “double meanings,” puns, etc. But, as Rick Warren said, we are human beings not human doings. Clever, and correct to a point in that we are not defined by works. But, we are both. We do because of who we are and whose we are. It’s not “I think, therefore, I am,” it is “I am, therefore I do.” That is what the world looks for and that is what is lost when people break fellowship by leaving, dropping out, dividing, or whatever.

    This could be a long discussion which I will save and consume my own space, but Jesus gave three criteria unique to the church that the world will be looking for. It’s not building or attendance or web site or “correctness” of doctrine. It is all contained in fellowship, sharing actions of service between one another, meeting one another’s needs, building up the body of Christ. The world will know we are Jesus’ disciples by our love for one another (John 13:34-35), and by our peace given by Christ and not of the world (John 14:27). The world will know of the love of the Father because of our unity of believers in Christ (John 17:23). Love, peace, and unity are not beings or havings, they are doings. DO love; DO peace (peacemaking); DO unity (in the bond of peace, Eph. 4:3). The world says, “Show me the gospel and make me want it.” That’s evangelism; that’s missional; that’s the great commission; that’s the gospel message. Unless it means something to those inside the church, why should anybody listen? And they don’t. And when we try, they say we are cramming it down their throats and infringing on their rightful space. And they want to separate church and state and education and nativity scenes on the firehouse city property, and everything else. And why not? Isn’t the world just copying the division that the body of Christ has within itself? “You seem to like division and separation, so we’ll get the ACLU to give you some more.”

    Fighting and demonizing and name calling and gossiping and dividing destroys fellowship which destroys the DOING of love, peace, and unity. When Christians define what relationship means as having to earn it through works that are officially sanctioned and accepted and vehemently defended against evil at all costs they are operating out of the flesh and not the Spirit. God wants relationship with His children, and we grow into the image of God by practicing on one another what He has done for us, therefore being like Him. That’s fellowship and that is what the world looks for. What is fellowship to some groups, including one in particular? It is a list of rules to see if someone else is qualified for their wonderful priestly and official acceptance.

    Even a monkey could learn to draw a straight line through some points. Draw a line through Yeakley’s data points. Where does it go? What is different about the projected future compared to the past to give any hope that the downward trend will not continue? We have people blaming others and maintaining scales on their own eyes, blinded to the reality that they themselves are major perpetrators of the problem. People leave because they are sick of that hypocrisy.

    Many people don’t know what to do about this problem, so they snip around the edges and come up with new buzzwords and new vision statements and new styles of assemblies. That’s not necessarily wrong, but that is not the answer. That’s similar to looking for the nickel under the light because you can see the ground when the coin was lost out in the dark somewhere. That’s like a car being beside the road with four flat tires, and someone has a hand pump pumping air into a bicycle tube. “Nice tube; way to work up a sweat, guy! Hope that helps you reach your destination.”

  17. aBasnar says:

    @ ao

    Surely there are things to be taught on a regular basis. Because you cannot expect sound teaching to be known, embraced and even lived out without presenting it, explaining and constantly reminding! As you every now and then notice in this Blog, the question on women’s roles in the church is a hot topic, a very emotional one – and those who are mis- or underinformed will become frustrated if they are not taught and get sufficient explanations/reasons for the practice we hold do contrary to our culture we live in. This separation from the world needs vconviction and vision – this won’t come without passionate teaching.

    But doctrine alone is not what holds us together. Cold doctrine without warm and caring love is all but edifying and helpful. Being content with being right is pharisaic to the core.

    The remedy is not to forsake these doctrines and replace them by love. We need both in a balanced way. As a teacher I bemoan the fact that we have far too little time to unfold the Will of God from the scriptures, ride far too often our few hobby horses and don’t take time to answer individual questions with patience. Throughout my past 25 years as a Christian I have been on both sides, experienced elders that took time and others that just ignored my concerns; now, being in the leadership I strive to take time and explain, to see the doctrinal needs as well as the emotional ones. It takes time, friendship, hospitality …

    Alexander

  18. aBasnar says:

    P.S. Another thought:

    In earlier years you had a small grocery store in eavery village (in Austria) where you could by milk, bread, ham, butter, cheese and all basic necessities in your immediate neighborhood. Today we have large chains of supermarkets that are a driving distance away with a huge selection of different brands of milk, bread, ham, butter, cheese and everything far beynd the basic necessities. The small grocery stores died out.

    Churchwise the situation is similar. In the past you went to the church you grew up in and were (more or less) content; but today the selection of various teachings, various worship styles, literature, internet is overwhelming offering us so many opprtunities that we pretty soon become discontent with our own small and weak church.

    Consumerism is one key-word. Christians (among the Evcangelicals) quite often leave one church for another because of the “better worship” (i.e. better music). Our IM/a-capella debates are a reflection of this, BTW. Or the better preacher who is more eloquent, has more warmth in in his voice or the better stories. I’ve seen people leave for just that! “The sermons in that church are so much more inspiring”, they told me. I listened to them and found what I mentioned above (eloquence, warmth, better stories) – but what about the doctrine itself? OK, this prompts me to question my style, to improve where possible – but I don’t want to put up a show either.

    Jay had a sentence above, which I am not sure how I shall interpret it:

    First, if our members are abandoning our congregations for others, something is decidedly unhealthy. Either we are doing a poor job as churches, and so they are moving to a better place to serve Jesus. Or else we’re teaching them so poorly that they prefer an inferior form of Christianity.

    When I read that I couldn’t believe my eyes. Because it is terribly politically incorrect to say something like that, isn’t it? Yet, I do believe that objectiveley there are better places for a Christian to grow and worse places; churches that better represent and demonstrate the Kingdom of God than others.

    So, doing a better job as a church would depend on having a clearer vision and practice of the Kingdom of God. This starts with how we present the Gospel and it leads to living a Kingdom life rather than a church life. IN doing this, you would not just by any kind of milk, butter, ham … but:

    1Pe 2:2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.

    And you will eventually notice that this is either hidden in some shelf in the sper-market (hard to find) or even available at your local grocery store; but it’s the milk that comes directly from the farmer. If you have ever had the chance to taste fresh milk you’ll know what I mean (so rich and creamy) …

    But woe to us if we offer some fancy brand from a spiritual factory with all the additives and preservatives that have nothing to do in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Most churches do a poor job because they try to go with the flow …

    Alexander

  19. Doug says:

    Alexander,

    I don’t think we are talking about adding to or taking away from the gospel when we, on this blog, discuss the demise of the non-IM Church of Christ (not to be confused with the Church of Christ which will endure until taken home). What we are talking about is actually doing what the scriptures say we ought to be doing as the Church of Christ. If we can just get back to that, we’ll be fine. But, when everyone puts in their pet doctrine, we quickly are mired down in doctrinal disputes which clearly does not produce the unity for which Jesus prayed. For you, the submissiveness of women is a pet doctrine but for me, it is not. I am not saying you are wrong and I am right or vice versa but the question I would ask is why can’t I allow you to adhere to your pet doctrine and you allow me to adhere to mine and still have fellowship. You aren’t going to change my mind and clearly, I am not going to change yours so the question is can we still present to the world a united fellowship? I have witnessed this in action and I have not had to yeild in any way to my doctrinal beliefs. If it can happen in the small, then why can’t it happen in the large?

  20. LoriBelle says:

    @aBasnar…Wow! As I was reading your last post, before you said it, I was thinking it…our focus seems to be more on “church” and not on our Savior. It’s overwhelming to drive around a city and see the numerous amounts of “faith” based buildings and not all of them for Jesus, but making some claim of “spirituality”. I know of a church of Christ preacher who has even exalted the “church” to the same level as Christ, and in some ways beyond. If we all keep our eyes on Jesus and seek Him, abide in His Word and teaching, He promises that we will bear much fruit. We, brothers and sisters in Christ, are the church. I know we say that, yet still, we look for a building. Paul in Acts, looked for brothers Acts 28:13 “From there we sailed around and arrived at Rhegium, and a day later a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. 14 There we found some brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days; and thus we came to Rome. 15 And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us; and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.” That’s another reason why I think we are failing. We need to be looking for each other. We need intimacy with each other together with our God. I’m curious. If we did a search for the words “brethren” and “church” which will produce the greater number? We need deeper and more meaningful relationships with each other. Without it, people come and go as it were a “supermarket”. For what it’s worth. 🙂

  21. Doug says:

    I guess what I am really saying is that Alexander seems to think that with sufficent teaching, everyone will come to his personal understanding of what constitues “correct” doctrine and I am saying that we’ve tried that for a long time now with any number of personal “correct” doctrines. The results are coming in now and guess what? It doesn’t work!

  22. Charles McLean says:

    As long as the local Christian club (aka “your home church”) holds a proprietary interest over its members, I will decline to join. As long as my membership in First Street Church is considered mutually exclusive with membership in Second Street Church or Third Avenue Church, I will recognize that reality as an attempt to isolate me from the larger family of God and to have me pledge allegiance to FSC– and I won’t honor it. I’ll visit, and I’ll even help out when allowed, but I won’t saw off part of my family to gain recognition by one particular local religion club.

    I’m thinking about having a permanent name badge made that identifies me as “Brother and Permanent Visitor”.

  23. Doug says:

    After reading what I just wrote, I guess it could be construed as “anything goes” as far as Church doctrine is concerned. That is not what I meant to convey. The doctrine I was addressing are those doctrines relating to things like IM, one cup vs. multiple, womens roles (not including elders/deacons) in the church and worship, solos/ensembles, etc. etc. I meant those doctrines that are not absolutely scriptually defined or that could be related to 2000 year old cultures. I still think what draws restoration churches together is much greater than what divides them and that we need a way to accept what unites us without destroying ourself over what divides us.

  24. BeABerean says:

    I agree with LoriBelle, it shows that the CoC has been boxed up in the walls of a building rather than seeing beyond their four walls. Jesus went beyond the walls of the temple…people from different cultures wanted to come to Him…He walked with and loved people…He shows us what love is. Those who stay hidden in their four walls have blinders on, as long as they keep their blinders on their love will continue to grow cold.

  25. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Charles wrote,

    I’m thinking about having a permanent name badge made that identifies me as “Brother and Permanent Visitor”.

    Charles, I’ve surely misunderstood your comment. You see, it sounds very American, individualistic, and non-committal to me. If you refuse to commit to a church, you can’t be counted on. No one is responsible to encourage you. No one is responsible to hold you accountable. Worse yet, you have no obligation to encourage and hold other, particular people accountable. You’re a Lone Ranger Christian.

    In short, to claim allegiance to the entire family of God but no allegiance to a leadership structure or particular body of brothers and sisters is hardly any allegiance at all. How is this submission to one another? It seems just so very low cost … like WalMart.

    What am I missing?

  26. Monty says:

    I live in a fairly small town(10,000). We have a large(oldest in town) 1st Baptist Church which was for many years the largest and most prominent church around. Then 20 years or so ago, one of the smaller Baptist churches began to really grow and now has surpassed the once bigger more established group. I happen to know one of the members of the newer, faster growing church. I asked him if the preacher they have now is the reason why they have grown so fast. He gave (I thought ) a great and true answer, he said, ” No, it wasn’t the preacher at all, it was because of the Holy Spirit. He said, “he could remember when they didn’t have 50 members meeting on Sunday morning but now they have around 800.” Of course that only raises more questions as to the how and the why. What prompted the Holy Spirit to all of a sudden make the difference, was it a change of heart of the people or what? I just found it interesting that a Baptist would give credit to the Holy Spirit. Not sure that many Church of Christ members would have done the same in similar circumstances.

  27. LoriBelle says:

    Monty, very interesting that you say this. I have thought numerous times that the coC’s do not really recognize or acknowledge the Holy Spirit…generally. When I was converted and baptized, I remembered the scripture that says, “…and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” I believed that, and sought to be led by His Spirit. Romans 6, 8 talk about the importance of this and how unless we are led by the Spirit of God, we are not children of God. Too often, He’s confined to a book. I know that that comment can bring me a lot of trouble. And don’t get me wrong…I have great respect and reverence for the Word of God. But I also believe and have experienced the fellowship of the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 13:14, Philippians 2:1.

  28. LoriBelle says:

    One other thing, on this note. I had very recently been introduced to Rick Atchley of the Richland Hills Church of Christ as our small group is listening to his “Identity” series. I was amazed to hear that he talked about the importance of the Holy Spirit. So, I am assuming that he believes that the Holy Spirit is REAL and that He aides the believer to live a life of righteousness. And if I am not mistaken, are they not growing! I wouldn’t be surprised that it’s do to this truth that is being shared. Psalm 143:5-12

    And according to Acts 19:1-7, it’s possible to believe without having the Holy Spirit if you haven’t even become aware that there IS a Holy Spirit. I don’t speak in tongues, nor do I think that the scriptures teach everyone will. But that’s another subject. 🙂

  29. Nate Lahue says:

    CoC doesn’t know what expositional preaching is. All that is taught is Topical preaching. There is a MAJOR difference in PREACHING THE WORD and PREACHING FROM THE WORD. Sadly, CoC ministers haven’t the clue what expositional is.

    You want to go to a REAL church? Find a church that preaches expositionally, and you will become enlightened and energized by God’s Word – and as a consequence, you will become angry at the ignorant superficial teachings of the CoC.

    I was attending CoC services 9 months before I was born. That’s how “Church of Christ” I was. 36 years worth. I was (military) a member of 17 different CoC in the world. I am 39 now, and I have learned MORE in 3 years than I ever had in 36. I was always faithful, every service and bible study, summer camp……..and it is just the same old tired (forgive me Lord Jesus) crap taught, with the “Hear Believe Confess Repent Baptize” tacked onto every sermon, with a sprinkle of the gospel at the end for good measure.

    Interested in what expository preaching sounds like? Try listening to John MacArthur (for example). Their website is gty.org – it will change your walk with Christ into joy!!! There is no real joy in the CoC, despite Galatians 5:22-23 telling me that it is the fruit of the Spirit.

  30. Mark says:

    Nate,
    I really believe that if the cofC were to follow the lectionary for 3 years, the entire cycle, that the benefits would be great. I went to the Anglican Church after 25 years in the cofC and found that the homilies made sense and that a portion of gospel was read every Sunday which was not taken out of context. Also, the cofC has no idea of Holy Week. When the service on Palm Sunday covers everything from the entry into Jerusalem to the entombment and the services during the week cover the events of that day, the faith becomes real. Nothing is said of the resurrection until Sunday. The cofC does not realise during the time that Jesus was dead, no one knew what would happen or if Jesus Just claimed to be the messiah, but really wasn’t.

  31. I was raised in the Christian Church, similar in doctrine to the Churches of Christ. One problem I see in modern day Churches of Christ is that they think they are the only ones who are the true church. If you’re a Southern Baptist [which I am now], then you don’t belong to “The Lord’s Church”. When the Campbells and Stone founded the Christian Church/Churches of Christ/Disciples of Christ, the goal was unity, not unity at the expense of the gospel, but Unity among Christian brethren.That included Baptists, Lutherans & Presbyterians.

    Thomas Campbell was disfellowshipped [as I understand it] from the Presbyterian Church for serving communion to another branch of the Presbyterian Church. Baptists have this problem too. I visited an American Baptist Church here in Lockhart, Texas where I now live. The pastor told me that if I didn’t agree with their covenant that they posted on the wall, that I was not saved. If he had been talking about basic tenants of salvation I could of agreed with him, but he was not. So, if I think it is ok to pick up beer cans from the street and sell them to the recycling center I’m not saved? Sounds like salvation by works to me in a denomination that teaches salvation by grace alone.

    If the churches of Christ want to get their members back, they need to stop teaching that other Bible believing churches and “denominations” don’t belong to the Lord’s Church and that if we don’t belong to your groups of like-minded believers [which makes you a denomination, whether you like being told that or not] or are not saved. I was “baptized” three times by immersion, twice at the now former Forest Avenue Christian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee and once at the I Street Church of Christ in LaPorte, Indiana. But never in a Baptist Church and for this reason I had trouble joining baptist churches, because in spite of what we say outwardly, many Southern Baptist Churches [even the non Ana [re] Baptist [non-mennonite] groups require re-baptism even if your baptism was by immersion.

  32. Dwight says:

    Aulbert, the coC won’t stop preaching that they are the only saved for one reason…they believe it.
    Sectarianism is a staple of the coC in many ways, depending on the type of coC. Even the preaching of the sin of denominationalism and having only a name that reflects Jesus is sectarian and used to divide from the others.
    Even if in I Cor.1-3 we see people going by many names, but Paul still regarded them as of the saved and brethren….the church in Corinth.

    Once you stop believing you are special, then you aren’t and you are like everyone else, but if you can’t be like everyone else, you must believe you are above everyone else.

    Aulbert, I want you to say something to yourself and believe it,
    “I did not join the Baptist or coC church, I joined Christ. I was added by God, not by man. I am a member of Christ body, not the Baptist, not the coC, not the Methodist. I simply associate with people who claim the name of Christ. But my association doesn’t put me in Christ.”

    No one can separate you from Christ no matter who you associate with or where you go, unless you do it yourself.
    The church that Christ built is not built out of churches, but people.

    I John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

  33. Mark says:

    I remember being taught the main reason that other denominations were wrong:
    Christian church/DoC-had IM
    Methodists-did not take communion every Sunday
    Episcopalians-did not read the Bible
    Baptists-had a Sunday school superintendent
    Catholics-besides the Pope, they worship Mary

    Now as to why other cofC congregations were wrong:
    they had a kitchen
    they had a youth group
    they had a gym
    they didn’t have deacons

  34. charles McLean says:

    Hi, Jay–
    Just got back to your blog and saw your response to my post. You ask, “What am I missing?” and I appreciate that query. You see, it sounds very American, individualistic, and non-committal to me. If you refuse to commit to a church, you can’t be counted on. No one is responsible to encourage you. No one is responsible to hold you accountable. Worse yet, you have no obligation to encourage and hold other, particular people accountable. You’re a Lone Ranger Christian.

    In short, to claim allegiance to the entire family of God but no allegiance to a leadership structure or particular body of brothers and sisters is hardly any allegiance at all. How is this submission to one another? It seems just so very low cost … like WalMart.

    Membership in the body of Christ is not membership in one of the many competing religion clubs Christians have created for themselves. I know you know this, but your reply sounds as though you have conflated the two. You have taken my lack of club membership and from it created a list of character flaws. You chide me for not pledging allegiance to a leadership structure, or a “particular body”. My brother, the “leadership structures” and “particular bodies” you insist that I am required to pledge allegiance to are simply human structures. You know that the idea of “congregational elders” is foreign to the NT. So why do I owe one of them my “allegiance” as a matter of general principle? Their “leadership structure” extends no further than their parking lot. That is something a lot tinier than the Kingdom. And as there is only one Body, this idea of “particular bodies” is actually distressing. Someone has to point out that we are ONE, not just a local market of competitors for religious consumerism, which you would insist I select from and pledge my spiritual compass.

    Oh, and obligation to be accountable? I have had this for years! I have godly brothers and sisters with long relationship and proven track records who know me and know my life far better than your elder board knows any random Joe Member in your pews. When your shepherds start spending more than a couple of hours a year in the home of those whom they purportedly “shepherd”, I might take the model to which you think me obligated more seriously. I have also been meeting in homes with a group of varying membership for over twelve years. No “membership” required; but relationships have developed nonetheless. And, I guess you don’t think this a very big deal, but I do have a very real-time relationship with The Shepherd and with the Holy Spirit. I suppose that doesn’t take the place of a pew and a regular check in the plate, but, believe it or not, there is life in the body of Christ that does not take place in a brick building with a steeple.

    Jay, I was a lot more a “Lone Ranger” when I sat in a CoC pew every time the doors opened, supposedly being shepherded by a board of old men who would not have known if I was shacking up with a troop of Girl Scouts. There are probably more mature believers who “know” me than ever in my life.

    It is this very conflation that more and more people are rejecting. We are not leaving the church, my brother, we are leaving YOUR religion clubs. You hold no exclusive rights to the body of Christ and the grasping reply you offered me is the very thing believers are stepping away from.
    We weary of wearing the brands of men for their own agendas. We weary of being assets to be deployed to accomplishing what you think God would be telling you to do if He really spoke to anyone anymore. We no longer believe that we have to submit to some club executive in order to submit to Jesus. We are learning to submit one to another. To have networks of accountability, with people who know us and love us in reality, not just “submitting” to a local junta that spends more time counting our money and our attendance than they spend actually WITH us.

    What you are missing, Jay, is what I thought you already knew. Your denomination and its local 501c3 franchises are not the church. WE are. You do not hold the blessings of God in your grasp, to be doled out to us when we submit to your self-appointed control and divisive rule. Without your pulpits, we still read and study and hear God in the scriptures. And we don’t have to wince at your long-held traditions which are as binding as holy writ. We can wince at our own foibles… the difference being we can learn and repent and change. Without your treasuries, we help our neighbors and feed the poor and look after one another in need. Without your clergymen, we find the Holy Spirit’s gifted teachers and listen to them. Without your buildings, we actually meet together to encourage one another and pray for one another, two things that hardly even get lip service during one of your club meetings. We know when we “go to church” that if we want to love on each other and pray for each other and share our hearts with each other…not to do it until “church is over”. And when we share the Lord’s Supper together, it is not a quickly-as-possible distribution of a jigger and a chiclet after a 45-second prayer, trying desperately to ignore everyone in the pews around us so we can concentrate on the horrors of the crucifixion. No, we can spend time with our gratitude and actually share that thankfulness with each other, and hear from one another the meaning that this supper raises in our hearts.

    Jay, I am disappointed that you did not see any of this, and in your myopia feel free to deride me and speak ill of my character. You are generally a more thoughtful observer of the church than to assume that every believer owes his allegiance to some local religion club and its self-appointed human government. There is more to being a part of the Body of Christ than that. I am just fine with people choosing to be part of these religion clubs. If that is what the Holy Spirit is calling them to do, then that’s where they belong. I assume they will be blessed. I can go in and out of these clubs and enjoy the fellowship of people who are amenable to such and get understanding from others who know what I do not. But please do not think the green pastures and the still waters and the soul-restoration of our Shepherd are only available in one of the “many convenient locations near you”.

  35. Larry Cheek says:

    Charles McLean,
    Good to see you comment again. Was the original post really over five years ago? I will have to say, better late than never. I believe that you have commented more recently than five years ago . Your comment does convey an enormous amount of truth of reality. Maybe we will have others kick in with comments on this subject. I do understand that Jay is still in ICU from an emergency surgery, we are hoping for his recovery. I was unaware of your own blog, I did not find any recent posts there. Are you one of the e-mail subscribers? I am wondering if all of those 11600+ subscribers are still receiving their notifications about comments since Jay is not posting?

  36. Alabama John says:

    Hey Ass Hole, Jay is in the ICU and sure doesn’t need your ranting to boost his spirits. How about keeping your comments positive for a sick man out of respect if nothing else.

  37. Dwight says:

    Wow, Charles welcome back.
    While I do not like to kick someone when they are down, I too am bothered by the statement of Jay ” You see, it sounds very American, individualistic, and non-committal to me. If you refuse to commit to a church, you can’t be counted on. No one is responsible to encourage you. No one is responsible to hold you accountable. Worse yet, you have no obligation to encourage and hold other, particular people accountable. You’re a Lone Ranger Christian. ”
    But this is not just Jay, but most church/systems.
    The thing missing of course is God/Jesus.
    We are bound (committed) to God/Jesus. We are then bound (committed) to others who are bound to God/Jesus no matter who they are and where they are at, in our assembly, in another assembly or not in assembly at all, as long as they walk in the light of Jesus. I John 1
    We are responsible to encourage all.
    We may (or not, but should) confess our sins to another, but this doesn’t mean we confess our sins before the church or assembly.
    We are held accountable by God.
    We are not Lone Range Christians, but we are free range Christians in the world who are to meet with and edify and help other free range Christians.
    There is no talk of membership, except with Christ.
    And assembly is very little focused on in the scriptures, even when talking about the body.

    An interesting occurrence happens when someone becomes an elder or a preacher or a deacon or even gets an assignment to do something, their world (the church) shrinks and they become more focused on that shrunk world/church. The Kingdom is in much less focus, but rather it is what happens within the four walls of the church building or among the members within the four walls.
    We have become institutionalized.
    Assembly shouldn’t be an corporate meeting, but a family reunion.

    Charles, now having said this, I don’t believe that Jay was deriding you, but just expressing what he understands to be true about the church and the assembly. This is widespread. If someone comes into our congregation and visits, they are visitors, until they say they want to join and then suddenly they are transformed from just being there to now being there and in the directory.
    It is funny that people feel they must make their intentions known to the elders, even though they are making their intentions known by just showing up. There is no greater statement than when someone shows up and joins in singing and learning and teaching, etc. It is strange that sometimes visitors are more regular and active in assembly than many “members” are.

    In fact this thought that we can’t claim allegiance to the “entire family of God without claiming allegiance to a leadership structure or particular body of brothers and sisters” is the norm. It is not enough to claim allegiance to God and then be in fellowship with others.
    But if we turned this around and said, “so those who claim allegiance to Rome or the Pope are doing the right thing” we will get push back, because then the argument will be “you should place your allegiance in God and not man”. This is true.
    1 John 1:7 says it all.

  38. Dwight says:

    AJ, the one thing Jay disliked on this site was personal attacks on character (ad hominem) so we need to keep civil and not escalate things.
    Charles post was a little defensive and combative, even as I agree with his points, but he may not have known that Jay was in the ICU and can’t respond at least for awhile. Chances are Jay is not even moderating this site anymore due to this, so we need to self-moderate if we are going to be on here.

    We can still discuss, but we need to do it with love and not anger.

  39. Alabama John says:

    Dwight, we all need to equal posters and do not need a head honcho to admonish us either.

    Charles was out of line, bad out of line and someone heeded to tell him so. Not speaking lovingly whether we agree or not with what he was saying was wrong of him. I don’t think he would of used that speaking and tone face to face, and if so it would not lasted nearly as long before he was stopped!!!
    Kicking butt like with your child is out of love, not hate, but, still a butt kicking none the less. The bible is full of examples.

  40. Terry Purcell says:

    Charles never came across as sensitive to anyone’s feelings. Somebody wronged him and he ain’t getting over it. In anycase we are God’s children and ok with me for AJ to stand-up for Jay who has done so much for all his readers. Jay has been kind and loving in his writings. When someone disagrees it should not become personal.

  41. Larry Cheek says:

    Alabama John,
    Is that the kind of language you applied to your children, while supposedly “kicking their butt”. I for one have felt Jay come back to me in the past just as harsh as Charles did to him. Nobody called Jay out on it. In fact, go back and re-read Jay’s original response to Charles, do you not see it at least as critical of Charles as Charles was of Jay. Please specify your points.

  42. Dwight says:

    AJ, you said, “we all need to equal posters and do not need a head honcho to admonish us either.
    But isn’t that the position you took up as an “admonisher” of Charles.
    I’m not defending Charles, except he may not have known Jay’s situation, but you came down harder on Charles then Charles did on Jay in response and Charles was trying to make some points as well and he made some very good points that have gotten lost in the response to him .
    The problem is escalating these feelings instead of calming them down and not looking at the points.

    AJ, If you read through these threads you will find sometimes terse/tense/critical tones and I bet you have even had these yourself with Jay and others on this site…do you want me to go and find them for you?
    You don’t know what any of us is going through.
    It is possible that Charles himself is going through some medical situation that is emotionally stressing.
    So let’s be careful not to “call someone down” when they might not know everything about someone’s situation and we don’t know about theirs.
    Do you think Jay would use an expletive against another even when on the defense? I have never heard him do that and I have been coming here for a long time.
    Charles was trying to defend himself from a viewed attack that was written about 5 years ago, so chances are he didn’t know Jay was in the ICU.

    So moving away from the emotional back and forth, is Charles assessment of the church and having to commit to an assembly as a member right or not?
    Or is it enough to commit to God and then assemble with others that have committed to God?

  43. Alabama John says:

    Which brings us back to the topic Why so many have left. Alway something to criticize or admonish about. No matter how you do in life, it is not perfect.
    Dwight, you and Larry are like church lawyers, judges, and run this blog. Some disagree with you but do not stay long if they do.

  44. Monty says:

    Charles,

    Lot of truth in what you say(as usual), but your attitude stinks. Perhaps you are guilty of the very thing you’ve been mad about for years with the CofC. I read Jay’s comment to you and did not see where Jay assailed your character. When you made that accusation I thought “Huh” Jay attacked his character”, I have to go check it out because that doesn’t sound like Jay. Maybe you could be more specific, because I didn’t see it. I know you will want to pray for Jay’s recovery as we are all concerned for him. Blessings.

  45. Dwight says:

    Actually AJ, Larry and I DO NOT run this blog, Jay does.
    Larry and I just comment on this blog, as we have time, as any many do and are free to do and anybody is free to say something, which is just what we do.
    This is one of my favorite spots to go to due to the general civility among the posters. Sometimes people get upset at others, but when we start using “expletives” towards others, then we are no longer showing love for another. This is not the way to confront another. If we want to repel others from this site this is the way to do it.
    I do not go to many coC sites due to the hostility towards different thoughts and the way tempers get out of hand.
    Jay in the past has closed down a thread in the past for comments that have gotten out of hand or going on to long.

    I don’t know of anyone who has left because I have driven them away, if so then I am sorry. Most all though have left because they do not agree with what people freely say. I agree with much of what other people say, but sometimes not. I don’t agree with everything Larry says and I have agreed with what you have said in the past and Monty. I have seen some pretty upset language and Charles response was not even close to some I have read that have been directed at Jay and others.

    None of us are perfect and all of us have probably said things that “stinks” at some point in the blog sites history, myself included. It is easy to feel slighted from a comment when the comment was not meant to be slighting and then respond back defensively and then someone defends that and on and on. We are all guilty at sometime in some way in some part. All of us.
    This thread shows how easily it is to read something and come away feeling differently depending on how we read it and the state we are in at the time.
    I would not have taken Jay’s thread as angry, but it saw it as aggressive in tone, written while he was not in ICU.
    Charles reply was counter aggressive taken up a notch, written while Jay was in ICU, which Charles probably didn’t know.

    The way I read it Jay confronted Charles as a “Lone Ranger Christian” not willing to make allegiance to others, thus not willing to “submit” to others and “encourage others” or “be encouraged”.
    So I too might take this personal if I was in the mind to and I let it bother me.
    But I know this is not only “Jay’s position”, but many within the churches, whether coC or even Baptist and I have heard it preached for many years.
    You must belong to a local church as a member!
    You just can’t visit all of the time and participate as a Christian without having your name in the directory or on the roll.

    I do think the way Charles does in regards to the church and I know people that show a lot of allegiance to their church, elders, preacher, but not to God.
    I respectfully do not agree with Jay’s and many others position in this regard, even though I agree with him much in other areas.
    If we take I John 1 to heart, then our allegiance to God places us in fellowship with others, but we are not in allegiance to a church as the church is not a static group, people may come and people may go, and people are not perfect, even Christians. But I will submit to others and will help others and edify others, in the church and even those not in the church.
    I used to think that we must become a member of a church to be a member of God, which is preached in the coC, but now I think that we must become a member of Christ and then we just assemble with others who believe in Christ. Singing with others and being with others is a natural extension of being a saint, but not a requirement to being saved or being a Christian.

    If anyone wants to discuss the thoughts on the church/ church membership I am wide open after all this is what the site was designed to do and be for…BY JAY…to allow discussion, without biting at each other.

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