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Elder Tom Behel preaches for the Thomaston Road Church of Christ in Macon, Ga.
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Virtual visit: Thomaston Road Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.

This one is special, y’all.

I’ve been blessed during this pandemic to virtually visit churches from New Zealand to South Africa (look for posts on those soon) to Rhode Island (find that one here).

But I’ve been equally blessed to reconnect with the Thomaston Road Church of Christ in my hometown of Macon, Ga.


It was the Southside Church of Christ when I was there, from 1978 until I left for Lipscomb University in 1992. It’s where I pretended to be Snake Eyes as I stealthily crawled under the pews … until mom stopped me. It’s where Danny Gore and Mike Baker helped me memorize Bible verses for Lads to Leaders.

It’s where I was baptized on the Sunday night before Christmas, 1987. (The baptistery’s heater wasn’t on, so the gift of the Holy Spirit came in an icy chill.)

It’s the first place I ever saw my dad shed a tear — the Sunday morning when they made him an elder.

The church now meets on a piece of land I knew only as “the property.” The move to Thomaston Road took years, maybe decades, but now the church has a beautiful building and an outdoor facility dubbed “Camp Canaan.”

I was supposed to preach there during spring break. It would have been my youngest daughter’s first trip to Macon. I was going to conduct interviews for a feature on their recently retired minister, Rob Robinson. (He began preaching for the church just after I left for college.) The pandemic canceled those plans.

Macon, GA, USA

But in my Oklahoma lockdown I’ve joined a diaspora of Maconites who gather with the church for its Sunday morning Bible class. A bunch of us, including my sister and my dad, have settled in Middle Tennessee, so we’re able to join the live feed before our own churches start streaming since Georgia’s on Eastern time.

Related: Churches of Christ offering livestream worship

Dave Sparrow teaches the class and has focused on the defining characteristics of “church” — a timely topic. Dave has been the church’s welcome and announcement guy since the at least the late 1980s. He and his wife, Beverly, are the finest examples of Christian hospitality that I’ve ever encountered. (Their daughter, Kim Kirby, gives a lot more details on the family and how they’ve clung to God through tragedy on this “Sunday Lunch” podcast. My sister, Amy Bowman, is one of the interviewers. It’s well worth a listen.)


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You’re going to love this conversation with Amy’s lifelong friend, Kim Kirby. She’s a such a great communicator! We talked about family, homeschooling, the enneagram, mental illness, and learning time! She’s super smart AND a published author! Check out her new Bible study: All Things: Finding God in Ordinary Life. It’s linked in the show notes. Listen on Apple podcasts or the link in the bio! @kimberly_a_kirby

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I really love Dave’s lesson, which focuses on how believers should treat one another. (It seems especially appropriate after the killing of George Floyd and the violent protests that have resulted, though this was recorded the day before that tragedy.) One of the verses Dave cites, Galatians 5:15, really seems appropriate right now: “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

‘Social media can be a blessing and social media can be the devil.’

Dave focuses the class on the differing attitudes about churches reopening, mindful of the debates about this (and mask wearing, etc.) that rage on social media.

“Social media can be a blessing and social media can be the devil,” he says, noting that, even for people of faith, our civil discourse has become “remarkably uncivil.”

Go to the 15-minute mark in the class to get to the heart of this.

He quotes my friend Bobby Harrington of Renew.org. (I covered one of the Renew Gatherings in Tennessee last year, and Bobby helped me out with this editorial on women’s roles in February. Man, that seems like ages ago now!)


Here’s the piece he quotes: “The Romans 14 Posture as a Guide to Reopening” (based on Paul’s writings on the weak and the strong, stumbling blocks, etc.).

A few points on reopening from the piece that we all should ponder:

  • We can understand where people are coming from on both sides of COVID-19.
  • Neither approach has the authority of Scripture to say, “Everyone should do it my way.”
  • We believe this is not an issue worthy of dividing God’s church.
  • We think godly people are commanded to show respect to those on the opposite side.
  • We think godly people should hold their convictions without imposing them on people who have different convictions.


The church’s worship livestream happens at the same time as my home congregation’s, so I went back and looked at a recent service. There’s some really good stuff here too, including comments on the Lord’s Supper that focus on Jesus’ feelings of betrayal and necessity of his separation from the Father to become a perfect sacrifice for all of us. Go to the 13:30 mark to see that.

‘Faith is a lifestyle; it’s not an event.’

Tom Behel, one of the church’s elders, delivers a great sermon on the need for faith in these troublesome times. He reads from passages including Hebrews 11 (the “Faith Hall of Fame” chapter) and urges us to practice faith daily, not in an on-again, off-again manner.

“Faith is a lifestyle; it’s not an event,” Behel says. “It’s a lifestyle you possess.”

Where should I virtually visit next? Let me know in the comments.

Filed under: Church of Christ Churches of Christ covid Covid and church COVID-19 covid19 Features Ga. Georgia livestream livestreamed livestreaming Macon National online church online sermons online services online worship Opinion virtual visit

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