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Where To Go From Here

January 16, 2006

Some things are easy, and others are hard.

Demonstrating the biblical call to unity is easy. A doctorate in theology is not required. Finding fault with the current state of disunity among professing Christians is also easy…as is the task of pointing out where Christians in the past have given birth to controversies that have led to long-standing divisions.

It is a good thing that those are easy tasks. They are necessary first steps toward the really hard and really important steps that follow. If the first steps were the hardest, fewer people would even begin the work. But many who enthusiastically take on the early tasks come to a standstill when it comes time to do something about it, something that makes a difference.

Having commented on the thirteen propositions of Thomas Campbell’s Declaration and Address, it is now time to shift from theory to practicals. And now it gets really hard.

Today this was posted on one of my earliest articles on this blog:

Thanks for working on your blog. It is encouraging to see brothers who want the broadest unity without losing core theology or salvation doctrine.

I would be curious to learn more of your thoughts and ideas on developing unity, congregational mergers and practicals for building bridges with those who share the same core beliefs.

I want to bring these topics onto the front page of the blog. I absolutely don’t have all the answers to these questions. I have some thoughts, mainly unproven thoughts. I am convinced that it must start with communication built on humility and mutual respect. How far that can take us, and how quickly we can get there, I do not know.

I believe everyone has something to contribute. If your gift is in the practicals, this is where that gift is needed! Where do you think we should go from here?

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5 comments

  1. Alan:That is the real question… and the hardest one, like you stated.There are certain things that at time I’d like to advocate locally, such as cooperative efforts with Independent Christian Church congregations, but I hesitate to do so because sometimes just suggesting such things can cause greater disunity where I am.I think the rudimentary place to start is where we are now. Starting the conversation. Making acquantance and friendships with those outside our immediate fellowship, such as you and I are doing here. But we must reach further, both in our own communities and farther out, to find those who share our core beliefs. Once we have relationships with those that are similiar, its much easier to introduce those to others, and help them create relationships. Over time, relationships such as those I believe will bear some fruit.I’ve been trying to create a list of churches that belief some of the core beliefs and practices that we all hold, such as baptism and regular parkating of the Lord’s Supper. I’ll post that list soon…. I think it is a good starting point to include the members of those churches in our definition of who is a brother.My other thought for where to go from here is one that I posted on my blog a while back. Supporting joint church planting efforts between our churches would go along way to heal the divide, possibly. The only problem with this is how to keep a new church plant such that in fellowship with all groups. You’ve been busy over here…I’ve not had a lot of time to come by and visit.-Clarke


  2. I’ve thought a little about this. I think that developing one on one relationships with members of other congregations can be a start. I mean physical relationship with folks in your city, not on line. On line can be very valuable, but real unity is going to have to be achieved face to face.Here in Columbus, the local COC’s (what branch or branches, I don’t know) have a regular worship service together. On months where there are 5 Sundays (like this one) one church will host a Sunday evening area wide service open to all. I have not yet attended one, although some from my congregation have. That’s a good place to start building the relationships that can bring increased unity


  3. Clarke,I am likewise concerned about the possibility of introducing disunity on one end as I work to create unity on the other end. I think a lot of work has to be done in my local congregation to prepare them for a broader umbrella.I think it would be extremely helpful to build a list of groups that teach conversion as we do, or are “close.” Salguod,I agree that this has to be done face-to-face. I need to find out about joint efforts in my area, like the one you described in your area. I think it would be very encouraging, inspiring, and helpful to hear what our online brethren are doing locally, as thought starters for what I could be doing here. Alan


  4. Alan,Your thoughts and heart are appreciated.The very fact that there are a handfull of websites and blogs popping up tells me there is a spirit of unity and cooperation brewing in the GenX/Y crowd in our churches (coC/ICC/ICOC). We are attempting to addres / redress a century of church DNA, both good and bad. This takes time and patience. Books like the, “Crux of the Matter” and “The Body Broken” are also pushing unity to the forefront.I am encouaged by your efforts, clarke’s, salguod’s, and several others to foster dialog. The price is high if we do not “talk”. John 17:23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.Perhaps an online “Unity Exchange” for those who wish to promote unity in their local area. People can sign up to see who in their town would like to engagein dialog. Sincerely, Phil Spadaro


  5. Alan,I don’t know if you go back to old posts to check comments. The holidays put me more out of the loop that I’d like. This discussion is exactly what I hope to foster with my emails. Relationships built online is one small step, but like is mentioned real progress will be made locally face-to-face. My goal is to build unity that reaches beyond geography to create momentum for unity locally. Look for another email soon.-Frank



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