Pages

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Hard To Kill: Restoration Movement Version

There are lots of reasons for people to abandon their Restoration Movement church these days. Hypocrisy, irrelevant arguments, out of touch worship styles, some weird theology, and a growing sense of becoming the new Amish. And to be sure, many have left their RM church in the dust.

But larger numbers of people have remained. Oh sure, there are some who remain because they are trying to cling to old traditions and good feelings from the 1950's, but this crew is diminishing. Many people in RM churches, in contrast, are staying as they are slowly re-theologizing their lives in a number of ways. What keeps them from leaving is not so much the same theological adherence as their parents, but other theological, social, and strategic perspectives. Forces other than perfect doctrinal adherence are driving these people.

Here are a few:

1. Network. Their network of relationships is so strong that to leave the congregation would not be limited only to what happens on Sunday morning, it would mean losing deep friendships, a collective sense of direction, and the support of people who "understand." They would lose their "we-ness."

2. Comfort. There is something important about knowing where the blind spots are. Having to learn new blind spots can be very difficult and unnerving once you find them. Lots of these people who stay understand that putting themselves and their chidlren through the kind of change that moving on requires might do more harm than good.

3. Personalized Emergence. Many people who stay in RM churches know that there are flaws and tolerate them corporately; however, they have found other missional, spiritual, or worship outlets not provided by their congregation. Most of these people do thses kinds of things under the radar - under the radar not out of fear for themselves, but that their hearts are so good that they do not want to makes waves for other people.

4. Excessivley Patient: These people have hope and a high view of God and people. They believe that the current "identity crisis" RM churches are supposed ot be having is not going to outlast their dedication to God. They believe that God loves this people called the RM (among many other, of course) and will not leave them to be overrun by church tyrants, spiritual thugs, and the warlords of religion. They believe redemption is in process and in fact works best when things look their worst.

The Restoration Movement is going to be a hard one to kill off. There are just too many people who are truly loving God and exploring new theological realities who choose to remain.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Come now, a lot of people do not think the mission of the church is to create art exibits.

Fajita said...

Huh?

TCS said...

really good description of what is going on. New blind spots...whew. Kind of like the first week of football practice at a new level.

Oh, heard Pagitt last week online. Hope all is well.

TCS said...

meant to say, thought of you when I heard him.

Steve said...

I think your 4 points describe me somewhat. When in my early twenties I didn't believe in God, or so I thought, I still went to church. It was where my network of friends were and there was comfort in it for a young man fearfully entering the outside workaday world. When I settled down a few years later, I figured the church would change. After all, wouldn't they see the great points made in Mission Magazine and Voices of Concern? And wouldn't that continue? Wouldn't they recognize the vast sweep of history and the many acts of Christian love and sacrifice by others not of our group? Wouldn't they put themselves in the shoes of others who spent there lives studying and acting out the Christian faith who had honest differences of opinion and who made a lot of sense? In the mid eighties we left a church after the leaders made a ruckus when a visiting preacher said that he couldn't say he knew for sure that those who worshipped exactly like us but for the use instruments would be eternally lost. We went to what we thought was the most progressive church of Christ in town. We stayed for twenty one years and it steadily moved in the opposite direction. Finally, a year and a half ago, there was a split and nearly half of us left to form a new congregation and it has been a great thing. It is still a standard CofC in terms of worship and beliefs but there is a sense that freedom and creativity will not be squelched. It is easier for me to live with. I'd be happy with Methodists or Unitarians I think but the CofC is my tribe and I cannot leave it. Speaking of emergent. In 1999 I read Ken Wilber's The Marriage of Sense and Soul. It began to turn me around from my Enlightenment self and prepared me so that I could understand McLaren's A New Kind of Christian. That began me on a trajectory that has been exciting and which eventually brought me to your blog several years ago.

Marshall Brown said...

I find myself fitting description #3. And I know several others like me. I would add this to your extremely insightful description: sometimes it's not just about not making waves for other people - sometimes we do things "under the radar" with the hope (however deluded we may be) that the RM church can eventually move the same direction we are.

Thanks for your insights, Faj. I do love my heritage - or at least the people in my personal RM past that have helped to shape me into who I am now.

Fajita said...

Yes, there is that Post-Restoration Hope alive and active.

Nancy said...

I don't know how else to get this to you...You've been tagged!
Here's the info: "The purpose of this meme is to inspire some reflection about how we shop and what we purchase. The idea isn't that consumption itself is somehow bad, but that we all could probably stand to put a little bit more thought into what we buy. And, of course, it's supposed to be fun. So here goes!

Pick a recent shopping trip -- for clothes, shoes, groceries, doesn't matter. The only guideline is that it will be easier to play if you purchased at least a few things. Now tell us, about your purchases:
1. What are you proud of?
2. What are you embarrassed by?
3. What do think you couldn't live without?
4. What did you most enjoy purchasing?
5. What were you most tempted by? (This last one may or may not be an actual purchase!)"
Now, tag 5 others!

Restore the Restoration said...

I thought you might find this sermon on Church Unity insightful:

http://www.godtube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=65bd1e280187eabbb039

mork said...

Thanks for posting this. I go to a church of Christ in Australia. This describes my attitude. Despite its flaws, I don't think I could leave my church because to me it seems too much like divorcing my brothers and sisters - fracturing an already fractured movement.

Restore the Restoration said...

I thought you might find this sermon on Church Unity insightful:

http://www.godtube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=65bd1e280187eabbb039

Steve said...

I think your 4 points describe me somewhat. When in my early twenties I didn't believe in God, or so I thought, I still went to church. It was where my network of friends were and there was comfort in it for a young man fearfully entering the outside workaday world. When I settled down a few years later, I figured the church would change. After all, wouldn't they see the great points made in Mission Magazine and Voices of Concern? And wouldn't that continue? Wouldn't they recognize the vast sweep of history and the many acts of Christian love and sacrifice by others not of our group? Wouldn't they put themselves in the shoes of others who spent there lives studying and acting out the Christian faith who had honest differences of opinion and who made a lot of sense? In the mid eighties we left a church after the leaders made a ruckus when a visiting preacher said that he couldn't say he knew for sure that those who worshipped exactly like us but for the use instruments would be eternally lost. We went to what we thought was the most progressive church of Christ in town. We stayed for twenty one years and it steadily moved in the opposite direction. Finally, a year and a half ago, there was a split and nearly half of us left to form a new congregation and it has been a great thing. It is still a standard CofC in terms of worship and beliefs but there is a sense that freedom and creativity will not be squelched. It is easier for me to live with. I'd be happy with Methodists or Unitarians I think but the CofC is my tribe and I cannot leave it. Speaking of emergent. In 1999 I read Ken Wilber's The Marriage of Sense and Soul. It began to turn me around from my Enlightenment self and prepared me so that I could understand McLaren's A New Kind of Christian. That began me on a trajectory that has been exciting and which eventually brought me to your blog several years ago.