Monday, June 15, 2015
Church 101: Restoring Restoration
Restoration is a familiar theme for those of us who have grown up in Churches of Christ. For over 150 years we have been working the principle of restoration. And we need to continue doing so. Yet, I believe that we need to rethink restoration. The prevailing assumption that has driving restoration has been that if we can restore the FORM of New Testament Christianity (i.e. the way they did it in the 1st Century), then the FUNCTION of the 1st Century Church (i.e. their power, influence, spirit, unity, courage, hope, love, devotion, etc.) will be experienced again by us in our churches today.
Over time that has led to what can only be described as an obsessive interest in forms and patterns of practice that must be scrupulously followed. And we were good at it. And we were committed to it, particularly in the areas of Worship (we have the 5 Acts of Worship - no more no less), Church Organization (A plurality of Elders and Deacons), and the Plan of Salvation (Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, and be Baptized - by Immersion, for the right reason (forgiveness of sins), and saying the right words) and a few others items. We were so committed to this principle and the underlying assumption (Function follows Form) that any deviation or anything that sounded like an innovation, was to be rejected as unscriptural, unfaithful, and too often something that resulted in being subject to being disfellowshiped by the those who were holding to the "pattern of sound words." But the question needs to be asked, "Did searching out and restoring the Forms of the 1st Century Church result in a renewed experience of the Functions of the 1st Century Church?
When I look at the overall impact of our fellowship - shrinking numbers, shrinking influence, and too often shrinking spiritual strength among our members, I have to say the answer is no. I am not saying there has been no good done among us, for there has. Multiplied thousands have become Christians through the preaching and teaching of our members, lives have been helped, good has been done around the world by us. But there is no denying we are loosing ground. And how do we stop our slide into irrelevance?
What we we shifted our priority from Forms to Function? What if we instead of trying to restore forms, we focused on restoring the Function, the Mission of the church, and allowed, where there is freedom to do so, to let the forms develop naturally from the function as they are being exercised in our time and culture?
What would that look like? That is what we are going to explore in the coming weeks.
To listen to the full sermon on this topic go to: