Today a copy of the book “Churches of Christ in the United States” 2006 Edition was placed into my hands for my review. This was quite an opportune time since my only productive function this week is to attend to my wife, who is ill, and help boost the stock of Kimberly-Clark, the makers of “Kleenex”. I have the mother of all allergic reactions, a condition I unintentionally succumb to at least twice each year. After an injection in my left hip today, beginning a “Z-Pack” and various and sundry other remedies my wife forced me to take, I am still a mucus fountain. Enough with my complaining, back to the book.As I thumbed through this volume I was impressed with the obvious time and effort spent to produce such a large book with well over 600 pages of facts, statistics, and detailed data. My hat is off to anyone who embarks on such a task. I think it is very well done. It did raise some questions though.
First, since we are a fellowship whose favorite text of the Bible is Acts 2:38, and since our teaching on baptism is one of the distinctives that separates us from the rest of the evangelical world, I thought it was curious that baptism only got a category in the stats along with “adherents””(both baptized and unbaptized individuals)”, who regularly attend in a given location. “Members” include only those who are “baptized”.
Had I been gathering data for such a volume, one of the most important questions I would have asked would have been something like, “How many folks has your congregation baptized since we last surveyed?” If think the absence of a question such as I suggest is a glaring omission. Why would we not want to measure baptisms? It is interesting that Southern Baptists (the historical objects of our collective scorn) measure their churches effectiveness by “baptisms”. Although their numbers are in decline, in 2006 they reported 364,826 baptisms (world wide), down from 2005 by 7,024. They don’t measure their evangelistic efforts by how many “prayed the sinners prayer”, or “how many came forward” but by number of converts they baptized. I can’t imagine why we in churches of Christ would not want to know that about ourselves.
The second curiosity is that in the book, “mainstream” congregations include both what I would tag “traditional” and “progressive”. All of the other usual divisions result from different nuances of methodology and teaching about how a congregation “does” what it does on Sunday morning. I too find this interesting since the largest 1,000 congregations in the United States and its territories comprise only about 7.5 % of the total congregations, yet have about 35% of all members. It is comical to me that at the top of that list is North Richland Hills church in Texas, slowly inching its way toward being double the size of any other congregation in our fellowship. If I am to believe the “brotherhood” publications, blogs, and messages given in several lectureships, NRH is hardly “mainstream” to many, many of our brothers. I don’t have the information, but it would be interesting to know how many of those largest 1,000 congregations have been the objects of brotherhood wrath because they are not perceived to be “mainstream” in teaching and ministry?
Perhaps in the future, more and more congregations will lift high the blood drenched banner of a crucified and resurrected Christ, who alone is the only answer to man’s common evil enemies, sin and death. I pray that it is so.
Amazing. We’re pretty good at drawing lines in the sand.
Loved the last paragraph!
Royce, I do believe the CoC has strayed from the original purpose intended by Jesus to worship and bring glory to the one true God his Father, and has turned instead to worship the offering, the son of God, Although the blood of Christ was the way by which we were given the gift, The gift giver remains the one true God The Father.
You don’t get it. Jesus is God. You have some serious error in your Bible understanding.
Royce, please provide me with chapter and verse where the Son of God, claims to be God, show me where he ask worship and glory be bestowed upon himself. please explain why in so many places that he said the Father is greater than I. Please explain why he said he is the servant. read in my last post where I only quoted the bible, and explain why the spirit later to become the Christ, is not the Son, but instead is God. please explain to me the trinity. I have never had anyone explain it yet, I have had many try, and feebly, and miserably fail. saying Jesus couldn’t do such and such unless. what those who say that don’t understand is God did everything through his faithful servant, his son the spirit later to become known as the Christ.
Laymond, When you reject the deity of Jesus you cast your lot with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormans, etc and not with those who believe in the historic Christian faith. Only God can forgive sin, live completely sinless, defy death, and create everything that is created. A man who is not “God with us”, who is not the God-man, is just another man. As I have already said, I will do the best I can in some following post to make the case the best I can for who Jesus was and is today. Royce
Royce you said (quote) “You don’t get it. Jesus is God.”
I am in good company, Matthew , Mark, Luke , John and Paul didn’t get it either.
In the series I am about to begin I will explain in great detail. I have found though from experience, giving you quotes from the scriptures is useless. You only ignore them.
Sorry to hear that you and your wife aren’t feeling so well. I hope that you two will be better soon.
You mentioned the huge task well done by the makers of that directory. A story: Back in the day when the Nashville Jubilee (a.k.a., Tulsa East), was still going on, I saw my former teacher, Mac Lynn. I told him that I’d just gotten back from a trip to Guyana and Suriname, and that I knew of a couple of brand new, tiny congregations in Suriname. He took out a scrap of paper and wrote down everything I told him. Then, he tucked it away with several other scraps that were in a zip-lock bag or something.
All that to say, Mac Lynn is one of those brainy, hard-working people to whom the Churches of Christ owe a debt of gratitude. Better, we should thank God for him.
I agree. The work is momenteous to say the least. It is a very valuable resource for us all.
Royce pick the scripture that best represents your thinking on this subject. and tell me how it said Jesus was really God. I have never as I recall asked you if you believe in the trinity, three gods in total unison, totally equal. (You are confused about the doctrine of the Trinity. You say “three Gods in one person” which is false. The teaching is One God who has chosen to express Himself in three persons, Father (Jehovah), Son (Word, Jesus, Christ), and Holy Spirit. One eternal Essence…manifested in three persons.) If you do how can you pick two of these gods and say they are the same person.
Royce those who preach this doctrine that Jesus is God most always preach the doctrine of the trinity. but they always have to take many scriptures , and weave them into a basket to hold that doctrine.
every scripture that opposes that doctrine stands alone. I often skip from one place to the other, but just to back up a scripture, never in order to supply another building block in an otherwise feeble doctrine.
My comments in paraentheses, Royce
Royce before I get to involved in a discussion with you about Jesus being God, I would like to clear up just which god you are talking about. Are you speaking of a god over all creation, given that authority by his God whom he calls Father, or are you saying Jesus is that Almighty God whom he calls Father.
I carried on a conversation for days with a leader in another church other than the CoC and he threw me a curve, when I quoted Jn:14:28 and Ex:7:1 he gave the following answer. making me wonder if people know what the argument (Jesus is really God) is about.
Quote “Again I disagree with your understanding of these verses. Just because the Father is greater in authority than the Son does not mean that the Son is not God. Your father was certainly greater than you but that didn’t mean that you weren’t human.”
as you might guess I was left confused as to what we had been arguing about.
According to this Christian, God and Jesus are far from being equal in authority, just equal in being./ substance. I have no argument with that belief. If that is what you are saying, you have nothing to convince me of, the bible convinced me long ago.
Jn:14:28: Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
Ex:7:1: And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.
(see a following comment) editor
I believe it isn’t Mack Lynn to determon who is and who is not a CoC. It shouldn’t be up to him to draw the line in the sand and say this is what make your congregation a church of Christ and this is what doesn’t. I believe that is job of Jesus Christ for it is his blood that purchased it.
The book I think is non-sense. I think for phone references we should start using the internet or directory assistance.
I believe that God is going to restore the church of Christ and send revival across the country for the time is now. It is time for us to stop being self-centered and being more missional and emergant. It is time for us to stop focusing on a so called “pattern” and start focusing on a the “function” that changed the world. Showing grace, love, mercy, kindness, to a world that needs Jesus Christ. We have to start making a differnce in the neighborhoods around our buildings and understand that America is a place of mission.
We need to understand even though the demographics of the church of Christ may change the Gospel never will and the need for people’s need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ never ends. May God give ministers all over the country the passion to be missional and every Christian the strength to be authentic everywhere and in every situation.
But, for books where Mack Lynn determiness who or who isn’t CoC is over. We are living in a technological age, so lets use it.
i would like to know where i could get an updated version of the book that list all the churches of christ in the united states . it is a very helpful book when we go on vacation to know where the chruch is in the area we are visiting.
You can order one here (http://www.21stcc.com/ccusa/index.cfm) but it does not list all
of the churches of Christ. They decided to leave out many, many including the largest one in the U.S., North Richland Hills.