Dear Greg: A Letter to the New Editor of the Gospel Advocate, Part 2

open-letter-to-CHURCH.jpgMissional living

In the last few years, there have been dramatic shifts in our understanding of the scriptures — not so much in terms of doctrine as in how to live the doctrine. David Lipscomb’s service during the Nashville cholera epidemic is a great example of the kind of Christian living that people are looking for. Teach mission.

Let orthopraxy (right actions) be just as important as orthodoxy (right teaching) in your articles. Get practical. Teach more about living as Jesus lived. Tell the stories of men and women who sacrificially serve their neighbors.

Wouldn’t it be great if we had as many articles telling the stories of the lives of missionaries as articles arguing the proper way to support missionaries?

Foreign missions

The Churches of Christ have a desperate need to do a better job of recruiting, training, sending, and supporting missionaries. Most Churches do this the way they did it 50 years ago, when times were very different. Our churches — conservative, progressive, and in between — desperately need training on these things.

Open your pages to Missions Resource Network, the Continent of Great Cities, Eastern European Missions, and like organizations to give instruction on how we can work together to do a better job.

Domestic missions

The Churches of Christ have long believed in church planting, but recent research has done much to improve the likelihood of success. We now know how to do it better. The independent Christian Churches are one of the few denominations that are growing, and they do it through church plants. And they take advantage of the latest research.

Talk to Kairos and Mission Alive and let them teach your readers how to participate in domestic church plants.

Youth ministry

The dramatic loss of our children when they graduate from high school is well known, and the problem crosses denominational lines. Recent studies and thought show that part of the solution is the “Orange” concept in which youth ministers work with parents to help them be better parents and examples. The youth minister must be transformed from an entertainer and devo leader to a partner with parents in raising Christ-like children.

In addition, as I’ve covered here many time, churches struggle with age-group segregation. Our churches often so separate the young from old that the young don’t get to see the olders members living for Jesus. We need for our churches to help adults, not just parents, live missional lives in the presence of our congregation’s children so that they see that adults live what they preach.

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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14 Responses to Dear Greg: A Letter to the New Editor of the Gospel Advocate, Part 2

  1. Price says:

    Jay, I wonder if they would be transparent enough to write about the failures as well ?? As a learning process… would show great humility..

  2. This is good advice to any editor of periodicals in the churches of Christ. With no official headquarters, the editors have become virtual “bishops” to the churches where people read their publications. While the influence of these editors is not as great today as it was earlier in our history, it is still massive – especially for the long established publications. And no existing publication is has a longer history than the Gospel Advocate.

  3. Joe Baggett says:

    This is good stuff. but I will be surprised if anything is done about it. Traditional publications almost never write about our failures. If you have the right doctrine what else do you need? hopefully they will listen Jay.

  4. laymond says:

    “a great example of the kind of Christian living that people are looking for”
    If we can’t find something to do until a plague comes along, with 15% of the “working class” out of work, people without a place to live and nothing to eat, and winter around the corner, we are not look to hard.

  5. Larry Short says:

    I have read little in this site or others or magazines on the age segregation. There are many verses on the older teaching the younger, but instead of encouraging this, we prevent it.
    For a time, we had each elder join in a youth devotional, being introduced (occupation, family, etc.) and let them give something that was inspirational to them. This was well received.
    Many years ago in a visit to Madison church of Christ, near Nashville, I learned that several of the retired men began an auto repair ministry. It began because seveal older widows with lmimited means needed help and were intimandated by auto repair shops. It became more, as some teenage boys wanted to learn and help. In most congregations, the women do a better job of this than the men.
    Thanks Jay, for mentioning a much needed subject.

  6. Price says:

    Larry…what a great idea… Rather, or in addition to, having programs for how to lead singing, or preach, etc., to have a program to teach a life skill and be of service to those with a need was a fantastic idea.. The fact that it drew in the younger crowd should be a lesson to somebody on how to adapt our message and create unique teaching opportunities that have an impact… Thanks for sharing.

  7. Gregory Alan Tidwell says:


    Your innuendo that the Gospel Advocate is in the habit of publishing articles arguing over how to support missionaries is misleading. Out of the hundreds of articles published in GA over the past quarter-century, exactly how many can you name that argued over the support of missionaries?

    As to the need for a family-centered approach to youth ministry, you and I are very much on the same page. This emphasis will be evident in an upcoming issue of GA that is already in process.

    GA Tidwell

  8. Larry Cheek says:

    I have seen in many churches the children are ushered out of the assembly to what is called children church. I believe that sermons delivered by the preacher to the adults should be also understandable to most of the children, and when the children have questions about what was said the adults (parents) could clarify the messages. This helps with the communication process between parents and children. When children church is used the parents are not in tune with the messages that the children have heard, therefore handicapped in the clarification process. As we try to understand the early church and understand that the Jews (parents) were commanded to teach their children. Did you remember reading in scripture or early history of the loss of the youth from their commitment to serving the Lord? Was this a problem during that time? Was the method they used more reliable than our methods? Haven’t we as (parent’s) mostly expected the class teachers to fulfill our obligation in this teaching? Shouldn’t leadership be sensitive noticing a lack of educating by parents and attempt to encourage them to be more involved in the children’s education in the scriptures?

  9. Larry Short says:

    Greg, I don’t know if you read this site regularly or will see this, but two things come out of your comments. First, while I have read the Advocate from fime to time, I may be more interested in a subscription now.
    Second, why don’t you use G.A. Tidwell regularly, so folks can say “there goes ole Gospel Advocate Tidwell”. Any publicity is useful.

  10. Larry Short says:

    Larry, if you trust schools with your child, and Sunday school teachers, etc. why can’t someone in childen’s church be trusted. Let’s face it, the sermon is over young children’s head. And they learn far more songs that are desiigned for them.
    My mother used to tell that when I was young, I regularly got bored and noisy, misbehaving in church. After service in which I was taken out twice, an older man told my mother to keep at it. He said he got tired of wrestling with the kids, and now they don’t come at all. Perhaps he was right because I’m still here.
    Personaly, I don’t remember those young days but do remember my parents faithful church attendance. I’m fairly sure the commitment would have been learned, and I and my parents would have been happier if I was in a kids class.

  11. Gregory Alan Tidwell says:


    I do hope you will read the Gospel Advocate.

    Jay has been gracious from time to time in noting some of the things we have published, and I would enjoy seeing what you and others on this site think of some of our upcoming issues.

    (Without tipping my hand too much, we have some great issues coming up in the next few months.)

    Best Always,
    GA Tidwell

  12. Greg,

    I did want to also offer my congratulations to you on being named the new editor of the Gospel Advocate. I had lunch a few weeks back with a number of other preachers in the OKC area including our good friend Phil Sanders and you were specifically mentioned in our prayers.

    First of all, thank you for engaging Jay on this site from time to time and having honest conversations about our good progressive brethren. I wish more moderates and conservatives would speak up and engage them.

    Now, Jay has offered his suggestions to you from his “progressive” point of view. While we at times disagree strongly with the direction “progressives” want to take churches of Christ, they are our brethren no less who love the Lord too and we should always listen to the ideas of others.

    As you are well aware, today, the cry for “change” is getting louder and louder, bolder and bolder. True, some of it is much needed and will indeed be helpful for us in churches of Christ. All of us must admit that we aren’t perfect, sinless people. At times we have in fact bbickered and divide over silly things which had nothing to do with the true doctrine of Christ.

    Yes the Gospel Advocate can and should offer a wide, balanced variety of topics and articles on doctrine, fellowship, mission work, restoration history, unity, the family, Christian living, the Bible, etc. And like anything else in life, can and should improve itself over time.

    But don’t ever “keep your eye off the ball” (goal). Too often people, organizations and yes churches set too many goals at one time and they ended up forgetting what their goals are. We can’t reach our destination where we do not know where we are intending to go.

    In light of this, my suggestion to you and the GA paper is don’t lose sight of what this paper is ultimately about. For the Advocate to remain, first and foremost a paper that indeed continues its rich legacy and mission to support and defend the “Living Truth for the World Today.”

    The state of the church is a matter of serious concern as more and more people and congregations are wandering from the truth increasing numbers. I was recently reading some statistics based on polling on the nation’s youth and adults regarding questions about Christianity and morality. The numbers were startling to say the least, especially among the youth.

    The state of the church is a matter of serious concern as brethren wander from the truth in increasing numbers. If we will stem the flow, we must continue to address these matters and we need the GA to remain a stalwart in defending the truth for the Lord’s church in the 21st century.

    I offer an interesting quote from a piece found in the Gospel Advocate written years ago. It was written F.B. Srygley, who along with his brother, F.D. Srygley, battled extremist on both sides of controversies. He was concerned about some dangerous trends and the encouraged men of faith to resist them.

    “I am about all, if not all, left of the second generation of writers who wrote for the Advocate. The friends of my youth, so far as the writers of the Advocate are concerned, are on the other side of the rim. I feel lonesome without them, and yet I am glad there are young men who have never bowed their knees to Baal. They will carry on and will contend earnestly for the New Testament teaching. I think the church is now in perilous times, but I have not lost confidence in the truth of the New Testament. Let us be able to say with Paul: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith,” and “am now ready to be offered.” ….In these troublesome times, when compromise of truth is the fashion, the Advocate cannot afford to weaken its opposition to error. The tendency, as it appears to me, is now to soft-pedal the opposition to error. ….I came in with J.C. McQuiddy, F.W. Smith, M.C. Kurfees, LA. Elam, and F.D. Srygley. While they differed among themselves, there was no disposition to compromise the truth. . ..These men above mentioned, like the rest of us, had their faults, but they stood together for the truth, and their personal differences did not weaken their stand for the pure gospel of Christ or their opposition to error. Soft preaching was not characteristic of the preaching of any of them (F.B. Srygley, “What I Know of the Advocate,” Gospel Advocate , 2 March 1939, P. 1).

    May the Gospel Advocate maintain their fidelity to truth with the GA Tidwell as editor:) Continue to proclaim the gospel of Christ without compromise. May God bless its efforts and extend its usefulness.

    Robert Prater
    Shawnee, OK

  13. Brent says:

    Greg…..I’m gonna hold you to it.

    If you deliver….I’ll renew my subscription.

    Yes really!

  14. Wider exposure to the wider fellowship of Churches of Christ is a great idea. Through missions overseas but also inner city work here in the states. Campus Ministry has huge potential and many congregations (like my own) is heavily involved in it. I like it. Good stuff.

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