A fresh approach to baptism

BaptismIt seems Sunday was a special day for the sacraments–using “sacraments” in the literal sense of “holy things.” We shared an extraordinary communion experience, as described in the preceding posting, only to be blessed into tears by a baptismal service.

I’ve mentioned before my delight in our practice of allowing fathers to baptize their own children. Having done this myself (four times!), I can only say that the joy is inexpressible. We are now seeing the logical–and blessed–natural progression of this idea. Continue reading

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Do We Teach Another Gospel?

TeacherThis is the PowerPoint outline from the classes I taught at the ACU Lectureship about a year ago. These materials are taken from the book of the same name, also posted on this site. Do We Teach.

This is two lessons, the first dealing with the teachings of Galatians. Galatians teaches that we fall from grace and are alienated from Christ if we teach salvation by the wrong means. I believe that we in the Churches of Christ sometimes run afoul of this teaching, and the consequences are, of course, disastrous.

The second class is on how we fall from grace, which covers much the same grounds as the PowerPoint outline I just posted from the year’s ElderLink.

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What really is a test of fellowship?

ACUThe following is the PowerPoint presentation for Saturday’s two lectures at ElderLink in Atlanta: “What Really is a Test of Fellowship?” and “When Does Someone Really Fall from Grace?” ElderLink outline

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Radical autonomy and the disintegration of the Church of Christ

MergerThe Churches of Christ are falling apart. Actually, we’ve been falling apart for over a century, and what’s happening now is just a continuation of the same problems. We’ve not be able to hold together for a very long time.

One of the reasons we are so driven to split and divide is a false theology of grace. I’ve addressed this question elsewhere. Continue reading

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Communion Meditation: The Christian Passover

Communion3,500 years ago, or so, God wanted to free his chosen people from slavery in Egypt. He performed many mighty acts to bring this about, but the people remained firmly in captivity. Finally, the choice became a very stark one: God would bring death to every house that did not participate in the Passover meal–a special meal reserved for God’s chosen people.

God’s people sacrificed a lamb, ate the lamb with unleavened bread at home with their families, and the death angel spared them.

Continue reading

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Autonomy and the cell church

MergerImagine that a member of a 500-member church wants to evangelize the local downtown singles community. He believes he can best do so through a cell church model, meeting in coffee shops and apartments. Absent some really good reason to the contrary, the elders should encourage and support this effort.

But this mission creates something a bit outside our paradigm. Continue reading

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How can we both merge and plant?

MergerIt’s very fashionable today to talk about the benefits of planting churches. The independent Christian Churches have enjoyed rapid growth through a planting strategy, while the Churches of Christ have plateaued, growing hardly at all in the last 20 years. Planting is indeed a good thing.

The difficulty is that planting has to be done wisely. Continue reading

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Why we should merge churches–overcoming doctrinal differences

MergerAs previously noted, there are very real, very practical difficulties in trying to merge congregations. The foremost difficulty is our intolerance of doctrinal differences.

It’s instructive to see how we behave depending on the options available in our home town. For example, I’m familiar with a town having only one Church of Christ, a struggling congregation of about 50. The church has non-institutional members, progressive members, no-Sunday school members, and even a one-cup member. Continue reading

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Why we should merge churches–the doctrinal reasons

MergerI’ve already made one doctrinal point. Larger churches are more effective at ministry to those outside the church–and this is the very essence of Christianity. Read Matthew 25’s account of Judgment Day. Read James’ definition of pure and undefiled religion. The scriptures are very clear that we are to be salt and light by doing good works–and I think this is much more than doing 5 acts of worship correctly each Sunday. We are to have an impact for good on the world that surrounds us. Continue reading

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Why we should merge churches–the practical reasons

MergerWell, there are very real difficulties in merging churches. What would motivate us to work through these problems and actually have a merger? First, we address the practical considerations. There are many.

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