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Letters to the editor: March 2007

Don’t take work of missionaries lightly
I spent six weeks in Nepal in 1997, on a mission trip, and saw first hand the buses. Do a search on Nepali transportation, it will scare you to death. Even buying necessary food and clothing items becomes arduous. Walking to a market may take an hour or more and then walking back with what you purchased, two or three times a week. Pray for your missionaries, support your missionaries, encourage them, and never take lightly the work they do. They are doing something many of us could not. Praise God for them.
Dave Phelps
Bila Tserkva, Ukraine

I am a newly baptized member of the Church of Christ. It is WONDERFUL to be a part of God’s family. I absolutely love the experience and am learning that church members are very friendly and practice their faith all week long instead of just one hour per week. I’m grateful that I was invited to join.
I do have just one concern. In the latest Christian Chronicle, I participated in an instant poll asking readers whether they observed Martin Luther King Day. After I voted, I saw the results. The last reading shows that 80% of respondents do not celebrate the day and don’t do anything special at all. I’m certain that other holidays, even non-holidays when an important football game occurs, receive far more attntion than MLK Day.
According to the Wikipedia article on the Churches of Christ, racism has in fact been a large problem in our church history. Apparently, years ago, some white parents were told not to bring their black adopted kids into their congregations to which they belonged. Later, some members thought that King was a Communist and that civil rights was simply northern interference into the southern way of life.
I’m the last person who wants to sound preachy. But, given that we live in a world where we are all God’s children, isn’t it about time that we threw bigotry out of the church?

David Guard
East Lansing, Mich

A letter in the January issue affirmed that churches are, at least in some sense, institutions. As such, churches should have all primary words in their official names capitalized. I always find it curious when church letterheads, bulletins, etc., have a lower-case “c” on the word “church” when referring to a proper-name entity. It’s incorrect to label a church the “Eastside church of Christ” on a sign, though it is perfectly fine to refer informally to the “family of God at Eastside” or to “God’s church that meets in Grover’s Corners.”
Perhaps the lower-case “c” initially intruded because of a well-intentioned desire to exalt Christ, i.e., to give Him the only capital letter in the name. Great! But it’s usually “Main Street church of Christ.” Why is “Main Street” more deserving of capitals than “church”?
More likely is that the odd use of the stunted lower-case “c” came a from a desire not to appear to be denominational. The Christian chronicle’s [sic] policy has been to refer to specific congregations as, for example, the “Forest Hills church of Christ”–ignoring English capitalization conventions in favor of this tradition of thinly veiling our own denominationalism. For better or worse, we are known to the public as congregations of the Church of Christ; this single biblical description has become our name.
Apparently, some of us don’t like to be faced with the reality of our having denominated ourselves, so we try to hide it by decapitalizing the “C.” While the informal expressions “a church of Christ” or “Jesus’ church” are just fine, “Melrose Boulevard church of Christ” is not. It’s just a name, folks, and it needs capital letters. Simple as that.
Denominating is not necessarily bad; it’s exclusivity and sectarianism that are inherently wrong.
Of course, God’s church “has no formal, exclusive name.” Sure, a little variety in terminology would be great. But a Yellow Pages-identifiable church’s name must be capitalized, and that includes the “C” on “Church.” It is within the realm of possibility that we refer to institutions and corporations with proper English capitalization while maintaining a primary belief that God’s people constitute a spiritual group that transcends human, geographically bound institutions.

Brian Casey

Greeley, CO

I would like to thank you for your invitation to share good news taking place within the brotherhood. Have you heard of the massive mailing of the HOUSE TO HOUSE that is going out from individual congregations? That is right I am surprised that paper was not mentioned within the good news. The paper has surpassed the largest mailing publications, has been referenced on a late night talk show, included in a presidential speech. It is a publication from the Jacksonville Church of Christ. We send it to every home in our community. It is also available in Spanish so that covers the cultural barrier.
Also have you heard of GBN, the Gospel Broadcast Network?. That is our own brotherhood satellite that literally reaches hundreds of thousand of viewers 24/7. We are thankful for this evangelistic tool. We have a dish at our home and one at the building. The programming is professionally done and very effective. Why haven’t those who are saying we are not evangelizing enough promoting these great works? We are a small congregation of 35 and we had six baptisms this last year. The church of our Lord is still alive and well. All we need to do is sow the unadulterated seed of God’s Word and He will give the growth. Thank you for your invitation to share these glad tidings. I will be looking forward to the responses that you receive. IN CHRIST

Steve Iverson
Estherville, Iowa

With no malice intended, I think I can tell you why the Churches of Christ are not growing as the population is growing.
Our nation is quickly growing by illegal immigrants who already have their own religious leanings. Over the southern border they pour unabated and even welcomed. Many are Catholics and many are Muslims. Another reason is clear from the beginning. Jesus told Christians to follow the narrow way and he said few there be that will find it. I do not find this surprising. that true believers are a smaller group when Jesus warned us we would be few.

W. Flanagan
Dalton Gardens Church of Christ.
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

I pondered over recent articles on the stagnation or decline in congregations of the Church of Christ. My take on this is far too many congregations still focus on worn out precepts and traditions. Not all congregations can handle a wide range of diversity, or shall we say opinion. Local or regional differences, changes, and a tendency to lean either too conservative or non-conservative can add to the frustration.
Furthermore, its obvious the playing field isn’t level in all areas so to speak. As we have become an increasingly urban nation, the larger urban areas have more to draw from in general than the smaller towns and cities. It’s sad and frustrating to see many of the congregations in the smaller towns and cities struggling. But even some of our urban areas are also suffering from stagnation or decline in membership.
The Richland Hills, Texas Church of Christ, for example, has made some bold yet controversial steps to break the mold. The Rancho Cordova, CA Church of Christ has changed its focus to be more inclusive. Both approaches have garnered some success. I have been a member at both congregations in the past, and many others as my parents and I personally made several moves to different places. In addition, my eventual career with the military took me to many places in the U.S. and overseas. So, I have had a sampling of quite a few Churches of Christ.
The dynamic congregation that I currently attend has a membership of approximately 6,000. It has established four independent daughter congregations in a three county area, and is sending a family to Arizona to establish another independent daughter congregation. The guiding philosophy is “loving each other one at a time.” Interestingly, at this Sunday mornings early worship service, Jim Morris, of “The Rookie” fame, spoke to us in a most inspirational way. He mentioned he was a member of the Preston Road Church of Christ in Dallas I believe. The mystery home congregation is the Adventure Christian Church in Roseville, CA. It is part of the independent Christian Churches. Yes, my wife and I are some of the casualties. We tired of the legalism and close mindedness of the local Churches of Christ. In fact, three have closed their doors. So, our frustration led us down the path we currently travel. Overall, we found our decision to have assuredly been a good one.

Rocklin, CA

A letter in the February issue questioned the “scripturality” of a Saturday night communion at a church in the brotherhood. She cited a scripture which assigns the communion to the “first day of the week,” which to the writer is Sunday. In the Jewish world of the first century church, however, the “first day of the week” began at sundown on the last day of the week, which, interestingly, would have been a Saturday night. Also, it should be noted the the very first communion was offered to the disciples on a Thursday night.
Mike Gallien
Houston, TX

Filed under: Letters To The Editor Staff Reports

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