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Editorial: In 2018, who are the Churches of Christ?

“Do you worship with a Church of Christ?”

“No, I go to a non-denominational church.”

That’s the response we heard over and over as we spoke to students at universities associated with Churches of Christ during Winterfest.

The students had traveled to Gatlinburg, Tenn., to recruit high schoolers for their universities during the biggest youth gathering in our fellowship. Yet they didn’t claim to be part of our fellowship. More concerning, perhaps, was their assertion that our fellowship is no longer non-denominational, that we’re not following the call to strip away man-made doctrines and practice simple, Bible-based, New Testament Christianity.

It is time — past time, really — for us to reexamine our identity, to dive into God’s Word without the blinders of our preconceptions and ask what God requires of us. We must include our youths in this study — not as passive pupils but as participants.

As we enter 2018, we’re preparing a new series of reports and features on Churches of Christ in the United States to coincide with the latest edition of the directory produced by 21st Century Christian. Preliminary numbers show the same, steady decline seen in previous editions.

Rather than allow the conversation to devolve into hand-wringing and finger-pointing that ultimately tells us nothing, we want to focus on the very nature of our fellowship. In 2018, who are the Churches of Christ? What defines us? Do we still call for restoration of the first century church, and do our young people even know what that means?

Are our churches truly autonomous? Should they be? How can we regain our zeal to spread the Gospel?

We’ve posted a few of these questions at www.christianchronicle.org. Look for Survey: A closer look at Churches of Christ in the U.S.” and submit your responses. They will help guide us through our coverage in the months to come.

As we embark on this series, we ask for your prayers. We believe it’s time — past time — for difficult conversations about our fellowship, and we ask for guidance as we continue this newspaper’s mission to inform, inspire and unite God’s people.

Filed under: Church of Christ Churches of Christ Editorial non-denominational Top Stories

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