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Big Questions
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‘No matter how broken we may be’

America’s christian culture needs work, says graduate student Cana Moore, and Churches of Christ can help

The Christian Chronicle received 645 responses to our survey, “A closer look at Churches of Christ in the U.S.” So many of our readers blessed us with heartfelt, inspiring stories and insights that we can’t possibly share them all. These responses will fuel our news and features for months to come.

Harding School of Theology student Cana Moore enjoys a beverage and a book, “The Road Back to You” by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, at a Memphis coffee shop.

We also want to highlight a few Christians whose words we found particularly thought-provoking. That brings us to Cana Moore, a 24-year-old Master of Divinity student at Harding School of Theology in Memphis, Tenn. Born in Memphis, she was raised on Long Island in New York, where her parents still live and minister with the East End Church of Christ in East Hampton. Moore earned a bachelor’s in history from Harding University in Searcy, Ark., and is a student worker in the L.M. Graves Library and on the admissions team at the theology school. After graduation, she hopes to earn a doctorate, teach at a university and work in ministry.

She worships with the Holmes Road Church of Christ, which meets just off Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis. It’s a diverse congregation with a weekly attendance of 180, she says. The church’s building serves as the headquarters of the Hopeworks adult educational centers, and the congregation partners with organizations including Hopeworks, the theology school, Agape and the Whitehaven YMCA.

What would you say defines a Church of Christ?

A commitment to Scripture, an emphasis on replicating the New Testament church in our congregations and an appreciation for the simplicity of Christianity — without ignoring the complexity of living a life for Christ.

What are some of the significant strengths of Churches of Christ?

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By allowing each congregation to have autonomy, the Churches of Christ can have great diversity and yet still be connected to one another.

Unfortunately, we sometimes exile those who have too little in common with our congregations and fail to appreciate the beauty that comes from this unique lack of entry requirements.    

In recent years, Churches of Christ in the U.S. have declined numerically. Why do you think that is happening?

Churches all over the United States are losing numbers, in part, because those who have been cultural Christians — but not committed to Christ in their own lives — are becoming more honest about their faith in other things and not in God.

Additionally, many are leaving Churches of Christ because of a perceived hypocrisy and a lack of grace when it comes to interpreting difficult passages or ideas. This is occurring in many denominations, but it should certainly be addressed without simply bowing to public opinion for the sake of keeping people in pews.

The Churches of Christ should consider the complaints as valid without dismissing those who raise the complaints as faithless. That’s how we can care for those who are doubting and leaving.

Why are you a member of the Church of Christ?

I believe that the Christian culture in America needs work, and because I was born into this context I am better suited to help them grow here than if I were to leave this faith community and go to another.

I see great commitment to Scripture, which I value, in Churches of Christ. There’s also a desire to seek out God’s will as completely as can be known.

I also know these people, and because of that, I want to continue to be a part of this family, no matter how broken we may be.

What excites you about your congregation?

My church is very multicultural, which is rare. We also do a lot for our local community and the larger global community. We give a lot for a congregation of our size and socioeconomic status. It brings me joy to be a part of a church that puts their money where their mouth is.

What are your greatest concerns about our fellowship in the United States?

That we would fail to see our chance to unify Christians and would instead continue to divide internally and deceive ourselves into acting as if we are gatekeepers of salvation, when God alone is the one who judges the souls of man.

If we cannot leave room for alternate interpretations, we miss so much of the richness of the Gospel, which is meant to be applied in an infinite number of situations and contexts.

Filed under: Big Questions Dialogue

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