Lines of fellowship

Some members of the church that nurtured my faith as a young boy believe my own parents ought not come to church with me at Woodmont Hills Church of Christ. Because of what people think of Rubel Shelly, the Woodmont Church, my book on baptism, they believe somehow Dad, who has been an elder for more than 30 years, is going to import the same kind of thinking into the Dewey Church of Christ.

I don’t believe Dewey needs to become Woodmont, nor do I believe any church needs to rise in the image of anyone or any other church–we only seek the image of Christ. What disturbs me is that people are very willing to make judgments based on third, fourth, fifth-hand information. What can we do?

  1. Go to the source. We need to stop relying on ninth-hand information. One brother who practices this is Ray Myers, who taught me at Dewey when I was in junior high. He has dialogued with me about my views on baptism.
  2. Stop bearing false witness to things we haven’t seen. Spreading falsehood or sketchy information about things is slanderous and wrong.
  3. Pray for churches worldwide, that we might bear the image of Christ, not the image of the church of Christ as a denomination but as the true body of Christ that reflects his love. I appreciate churches that get involved in hurricane victim relief and other service and mission, rather than being concerned about how churches in another state sing or organize themselves.
  4. Be vocal. We cannot sit idly while divisive voices ring out loudly. The gospel is at stake, and we must interact and talk and dialogue about what we believe. Dad, Mom, and I have had more good visits about life in Christ since I became involved in controversial ministries such as Wineskins, ZOE, and Woodmont, than ever before. These conversations have been difficult but needed and helpful, though at times I feel it stresses Mom and Dad out more than it does me.
  5. Keep paddling where you are. We ought to pay attention to the time and place where we are, rather than worry about what everyone else is doing or not doing. This is a simple lesson my children learn about obeying what they’ve been told rather than taddling on their siblings.

What else can we do? Thoughts?

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

4 comments on “Lines of fellowship

  1. Thanks, Greg, for these words.
    I recently have had an email conversation with an old acquaintance from HU who is doing some church-planting in Seattle. On his blog he merely journaled some of his thoughts on the absolute essential nature of baptism, or if it was really as essential as he had been taught. Apparently someone “leaked” that post to members of his home church, and they proceeded to attack him (not just his positions or beliefs), through the comments they left on his blog. I was deeply saddened to see that people who cared so much about preserving the Gospel (their interpretation of the C of C version of it!), cared so little about practicing it. They were the ones quickest to pull out the proof texts about “false teachers” and idolaters.

    I guess as I proceed in my education, I am drawn toward more “controversial” ministries than I was in the past. I’m not interested just because they ARE controversial, but because they seem to be rethinking what it means to be a Christianm and reshaping our definition of the Gospel, and of salvation. But, as one professor here at ACU shared (when talking about change in the church), he said we cannot become SO controversial that we lose our ability to influence students and churches (even if any changes we want to make are Biblical and good). I understand his position, but I also long for a time when people will talk openly, be willing to admit that we don’t know everything, and truly get on with the business of God.

    Thanks again for this post…I hope a lot of people read it, and pass it on.


  2. Greg,

    Would you mind turning on the “Show Email Post Links” feature for your blog? It is found on the “Settings” tab, under Basic. That places a little envelope icon at the end of each post, which allows people to email each post to people, if they so wish.

    Just a suggestion,


  3. Greg,
    I had lunch with one of the Woodmont elders who is also involved in ZOE. One thing we talked about is the uniqueness of a church where we can air out our understanding of Scripture where we stand now. When you think about it, this is very unique to have this kind of freedom. While Woodmont and other churches like it are not completely there, we certainly won’t gain total unity until that eschatological perfect unity after this life. I’m so proud and thankful to be part of the churches of Christ that are autonomous and allow freedom much more than many other churches . . . one problem is when we absolutize the strides we make in areas peripheral to the gospel, beyond the matters of faith for which we strive for unity, we jeopardize that freedom seriously. I’m not concerned about someone leaking my blog to my parents, who won’t agree with me eye to eye, nor to my church, which encourages diverse views and unity despite differences, or my board, which has encouraged me to redemptively unsettle Christians through Wineskins. I am concerned that I not be controversial just to get attention or for its own sake but only for the sake of Christ.


  4. Thank you for this. It is always somewhat comforting to me to know that others are facing the same kinds of things that I am. Finally, after years of fear and hiding, I’m able to have the occasional conversation with family members (maternal) about my views that might be different than theirs, and how I came to feel this way. I think you’re right that we need to not sit idly by and let slander occur right in front of us, and I know I’ve been guilty of that at times. I let fear silence me. The truth is that all I want to do is bring glory to God. But it’s difficult when disagreements over HOW to do that cause those I love to feel rejected.


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