Growing up, I had the typical aches and pains that all children experience. My Mom, as long as there was no blood, bruises or obvious broken bones, would chalk it all up to what she called “growing pains.”
Even though the Churches of Christ have been around for more than a century now, we are still relatively young compared to other denominations like the Catholics, Lutherans and Presbyterians. I guess that is the reason we are still going through some “growing pains.”
Randy Harris, professor at Lipscomb University, says in his book “God Work,” “Unfortunately, we have been perceived as a factious people for whom every disagreement is potentially divisive. Thus, the not-so-amusing story of five persons stranded on a deserted island. One, a Baptist, immediately sets up a Bible School with curriculum for infant through adult, even though he’s the only Baptist on the island. The Catholic builds a great cathedral, “Our Lady of the Island,” even though he’s the only Catholic on the whole island. The Salvation Army person sets up a red bucket and clothing drive even though there aren’t any poor on the island. The other two are from the Church of Christ. They immediately divide and create the East Side and West Side Churches of Christ. If you can laugh you are probably painfully aware of the truth behind the humor.”
For a group whose foundation principle was to rally the religious world together in one body, the result has been just the opposite. Those who wear the name Church of Christ are divided by more than 150 issues today. And though we have preached long and loud about the necessity of conforming to the “pattern,” no one seems able to agree on what that pattern looks like.
On March 7, I will begin a new class entitled “Growing Pains – Challenging Issues for Churches of Christ Today.” We will begin with what I am calling “A Critical Look at Patternism,” a Bible study approach introduced by the Campbells and the Restoration Movement. Through time this method of interpretation has come to define a “pattern” of the New Testament Church’s structure and worship practices through CENIS: Command, Example, Necessary Inference and Silence.
Future topics will include “The Role of Women in the Church,” “Music in Worship,” “Nationalism vs. Kingdom Living – Christians and Politics,” “Fellowship – Who’s In and Who’s Out?” and more. In fact if you have a topic that you think fits, please let me know. “Growing Pains” will meet in the Fellowship Hall, of the Madison Church of Christ, Madison, TN Wednesday nights at 6:30 p.m.