A Lover’s Quarrel: Preserving Our Heritage

Garrett’s fourth wish is —

While we are to continue to be Churches of Christ, let us become what Churches of Christ truly ought to be — in the light of Scripture and our own heritage

I disagree with those progressive, avant garde Churches of Christ who seek to escape legalism and sectarianism by leaving their heritage and becoming some other kind of church. … If one’s mission is to help renew and reform the church, it is a mistake to leave. Changes are best effected from within.  …

We do not help our people by leaving. Those we can help the most are our own people.


One my most formative experiences as a Christian leader (I was no leader at the time) was watching the men of my church some 30+ years ago challenge the minister and elders in a deeply loving and scriptural way — and by so doing, build a foundation for a vastly improved, much more spiritual congregation. 

For years, people unhappy with the way things were simply transferred to another congregation in town. There were plenty of other places to worship — why stay there and deal with the problems? But the families that decided to stay ultimately made all the difference in the world. They changed things. You see, things only change when people stay.

As a result, nothing motivates me more to stay in the Churches of Christ than when people ask me to leave. More than once I’ve received an email or comment saying, in effect, if I’m so unhappy with how things are, why don’t I just leave? Well, because I love the Churches of Christ too much to leave.

I could do some good, I suppose, in a community church or some such place, but God has put me in a place where, with his blessings, I might make a much bigger difference. And who am I to tell God he was wrong to have done so?

And I’m harldy unique. Lots of people in the Churches of Christ are positioned to make a difference that could even resound across the planet. Where could we go to be of greater service to our Maker?

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 A Lover’s Quarrel: Preserving Our Heritage

  1. K. Rex Butts says:

    I am glad you are as much a part of the Churches of Christ as you are a part of Christ's church.


  2. Junia says:

    I know this post was written from a man's point of view (albeit, an unorthodox and equality-advocating one), but as a woman I don't see how staying in the Church of Christ helps me or the denomination.

    Sure, I can teach kids and make the occasional casserole, but as long as the pulpit, mixed-gender teaching, and leadership positions are solely a male's territory, there is nothing for me to stay for or really hope to be able to change. I live in an area of conservative Churches of Christ where the mens' business meetings are frequently utilized, for example.

    I am very progressive-minded. Did you ever notice how the progressive leaders are all men? Why do you think that is? I have recently concluded that my best option would be to go to a Methodist or community church where my talents would be better utilized.

  3. Jay Guin says:


    I've always thought the men's business meeting was a bad idea. And I've seen horrendous decisions made because women weren't even present — such as buildings built with woefully inadequate nursery or preschool space. I've never understood it. I mean, even if you don't think they should vote, why not let them share their knowledge and experience?

    As you know, I'm a strong advocate of staying and trying to make a change. Obviously, that's not always possible — but if the progressive thinkers all leave, there will certainly never be any change.

    I don't know why women are not, as a rule, thought leaders in the progressive movement. I mean, if you look at the most popular progressive web sites, they are all hosted by men, although there are many women who post. I find women are far more active in forums, some of which are essentially 50-50 male to female. And there are forums just for women. But I don't know why they aren't more active as bloggers or as published theologians.

    I do notice that more and more women are getting Bible degrees and MDivs. Unfortunately, we still don't have many jobs for female ministers (although my church has two on staff). But progress is being made.

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