Saturday, January 5, 2013

Goodbye, Mr. Anderson

I got some not-surprising news yesterday: the situation at our old church of Christ has gone from bad to worse, and it's crisis has become dire.
That's significant because this is one of the big churches in California, and by might, power, or the Spirit of God it had about 800 members at it's peak. 700 or more would show up for the two services.
Now they are in the 300 and bleeding faithful, long time Church of Christ members, not just the standard college age kid who becomes an atheist and doesn't come back.

And that portends the death throes for the Churches of Christ here out West. If the big oak that could withstand the strong winds tree is uprooted by the storm, what makes the rootless, smaller trees think they have a chance? My sisters church, 40 people or so, is having conflicts and looks to split. That's about 10 families. 10 families cannot get along and cannot agree on doctrine.They will know we are Christians by our love, and the corollary: they will know we are not Christians because we cannot love.

Our old church is in a particularly bad way now because the blight has been gaining strength over time. A year and a half ago (or thereabouts) they brought in a new preacher to try to staunch the bleeding. Jimmy is your regular, standard, church of Christ preacher who has done nothing unusual in anyway to deviate from tradition, time honored church of Christ operating procedures. But the elders who hired him will not accept blame for the church's collapsing, they point the finger at him, fire him, and hope that was the source of the conflict. Que triste.
Who is really at fault here? Is it the preacher for preaching Christless, boring, terrible sermons? Is it the elders for tightening their grip of law on the congregation? Is it the congregation itself for wanting entertainment and socializing rather than doctrine? Is it their fault they don't like a black preacher in their club?Yes. Top to bottom. As I've said before 'repent' is not a word believed in the CoC, so the awful consequences of this are being made manifest at every level. The elders cannot ask themselves what they have done wrong, or what they are doing wrong, or beg God for forgiveness, they can only keep their eyes down and work, and work harder. There is no sorrow or soul searching, there is only "They were unfaithful." It will go this way until the church reaches 10 people, at which point they say to one another "look at the state of the world" and shut the doors for good. The preacher cannot ask where he has failed, because he hasn't, the elder board who controlled him is to blame. The people in the pews have nothing to repent of, because those people in leadership making these terrible decisions are to blame. There is no repentance to be found, so there is no forgiveness to be found. They are working so hard, being so busy trying to save themselves they have no time to love others.
And if we have not loved, we are nothing.
And they are nothing.
And are becoming nothing.
And it calls for our prayers that God would deliver His people into His presence with great and abundant joy.

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