Renewing Our Worship: Attitudes

The tension in the room was palpable. You could seemingly even smell it. Five elders sat on one end of the table, trying to act like shepherds, even though they didn’t feel like shepherds. You see, they were angry, although they knew they shouldn’t be.

On the other end of the table were a dozen or so older church members, obviously distressed. The elders hadn’t anticipated such a large delegation, and people were futzing about looking for chairs. It was very uncomfortable for everyone.

The chairman of the elders led a brief prayer — for wisdom and patience — and then the delegation’s leader spoke.

We asked for this meeting to talk about the song selection. We thought the elders had agreed many years ago to a blended worship service. Half traditional and half contemporary. But I think we’ve drifted more to 80% contemporary.

Continue reading


Baba Yetu

It’s Saturday! And that puts me in a “Baba Yetu” kind of mood.

“Baba Yetu” is the Lord’s Prayer in Swahili, composed by Christopher Tin. It was used as the theme music for the computer game Civilization IV.

This is an a cappella version from a Christian group at U Cal Berkeley, very nicely done. Continue reading

Renewing Our Worship: Introduction

At the suggestion of Mark, I’m going to put down some ideas about upgrading the worship service of a typical Church of Christ. Of course, there’s no such thing as a typical Church of Christ. Some would find many of my ideas doctrinally objectionable. Some won’t be large enough to try some of the ideas. Some will find my ideas too conservative, even a bit stodgy.

Some of these will be borrowed from previous posts, but most (not all) of those posts were written a long time ago, before most of my current readers were reading. And it’ll help to have all these ideas in one place.

Now, a few doctrinal and procedural thoughts before we get down to the worship itself.

* Yes, I said “worship.” I could just as well have said “the assembly.” But “worship” is quite permissible, too, you know. Continue reading

The Baptists’ Evolving View of Baptism (and the Churches of Christ, too)

BaptismOne of the most pronounced identity markers of the Churches of Christ and Christian Churches is our view of baptism. In contrast to most evangelical churches, we reject infant baptism, insist on baptism by immersion, and consider baptism the moment when salvation occurs.

Baptists generally agree on the first two points but disagree on the third, arguing that salvation occurs at the moment of faith.

And we’ve been arguing about this for 200 years. However, going back at least to the early 20th Century, there have been Baptist pastors who taught baptism for remission of sins. And going back to Barton W. Stone, Alexander Campbell, and David Lipscomb, there have been voices in the Restoration Movement insisting that Baptist baptism, while involving error, is nonetheless sufficient to save and no re-baptism is required. Continue reading

A Lover’s Quarrel: A Colony of Heaven

Garrett’s twelfth and final wish for the Churches of Christ is —

Let us be a colony of heaven — Cross-shaped, grace-oriented, Spirit-filled.

There’s too much to say on this, so I’ll just quote Garrett — Continue reading

Faith Lessons by Ray Vander Laan: When Storms Come / Piercing the Darkness

I’m combining two lessons, because the stories are very familiar and Ray Vander Laan does a great job with each. There’s not a lot to add, and the two lessons fit together nicely.

The Sea of Galilee

The lesson is taught on board a boat on the Sea of Galilee.  Continue reading

Churches of Christ in Decline: What Went Wrong

In the last post, I quoted passages from the first volume of Alexander Campbell’s The Christian Baptist in which he describes how we planned to unite all Christendom. Over and over, Campbell and Walter Scott, the Restoration Movement’s first missionary, declared their plan, being that —

this peerless fact, that “Jesus is the Christ,” forms the sole bond of union among the holy brethren, and is also the means through faith for increasing the body of Christ in the earth

This is the same principle we find in Thomas Campbell’s “Declaration and Address” from 1809 — Continue reading