Thursday, August 03, 2006

Woking at the desk, working through thoughts and feelings.

Here I am at my desk, working on a sermon, thinking about some things, trying to get over a headache, and sleep deprivation. So maybe I am not working, more like vegetating.

Here are some thoughts that have been floating through my head about being here in the Shoals area that I have been wanting to write about, but have not known what to say. This area is a big Church of Christ area. They dominate this area, not the Baptist but the Church of Christ. Do you know what Church of Christ believe in, and hold too?

They don't believe in Women as Preachers or Pastors that's for sure; "In each congregation, which has existed long enough to become fully organized, there is a plurality of elders or presbyters who serve as the governing body. These men are selected by the local congregations on the basis of qualifications set down in the scriptures (1 Timothy 3:1-8). Serving under the elders are deacons, teachers, and evangelists or ministers. " Nope, no women.

You'll find no piano, organ, guitars, keyboard, drums or any other musical instrument in a Church of Christ church; "a return to New Testament Faith and practice - acappella singing is the only music used in the worship. " Nor will you find other forms of worship like "candles, incense, and other similar elements", its not N. T. Can't have contemporary service or Taize or emerging worship there.

They disdain the Protestant and Catholic churches. The Churches of Christ historically do not use the Old Testament to authorize practices, relying solely on the New Testament for matters of practice. They believe that the commands of the Old Testament were to Jews (under Mosaic Law) only and were done away with when Christ died. What no OT?

They believe that only members of the Church of Christ are Christians, the rest of us are going to hell. Well, well, and who made you God?

I have a very good child hood friend who is Church of Christ. I have known about these beliefs and practices for a long time. But the Church of Christ were not in the majority in my hometown or any of the other areas I have lived. But here in Florence, they are. They put a lot of pressure on persons who don't believe the way they do and who are not members of their church. That means they really pressure my members to come to the Church of Christ.
As my members say though, they aren't intersted, they see how these people live their lives outside of church and it is confusing. But can you imagine what pressure they have put on my members that now they have a female pastor? The heat has been turned up as hot as the summer heat wave we are in. My members have been asking what's the best way to deal with some of the things being said to them, what to say? One of my members told a friend of her's this; "now so and so we are just not going to go there. You and I are just going to disagree, and you and are best friends, and I would rather be best friends that get into an argument that is going to ruin our friendship".(That includes playing cards mind you.) So far that has worked for them, but some of the others are really being given a hard time.

This church and I are the big topic of conversation around here.
And we are all going to hell, especially me, according to them.


Melissa said...

And we are all going to hell, especially me, according to them.

Well, at least with that definition, hell sounds like it'll be a lot of fun! ;-)

Quotidian Grace said...

I'm sympathetic. My husband grew up in the Panhandle area of Texas which is also heavily Church of Christ. His family were Methodists. They did exert a lot of influence on the culture of the area.

Closer to home and in time, my daughter's fiance was raised as Church of Christ. His father is a pastor in that church, but not currently working in ministry. His parents drink wine and beer but no liquor (so no margaritas!).

Interestingly, when they visited our church they didn't express any dismay at the fact that the lay leader was a woman and of course there was a piano and organ. But they are also gracious and mannerly.

He and my daughter have agreed they won't be C of C--she told him that she couldn't tolerate their view on women in ministry. She was a youth elder when she was in high school and sees herself teaching adult SS someday. C of C won't even let women teach boys in Sunday School except for the toddlers!

They are visiting churches--primarily the presbyterian (yeah!) and the Methodists. He objects to infant baptism, but as we've all told him, no one is going to insist that your baptise an infant. Lots of youth are baptised when they make a profession of faith in both of those churches.

Sorry, didn't mean to write so long here, but you struck a chord. Good luck.

Melissa said...

Rev Abi - If what many outside our churches have said is true, most of the fine women of RevGals will be able to carry on our conversations in hell. Some days we laugh it off; some days we cry.

I pray that you have more days of laugher than tears. No matter the day, your friends at RevGal are there to share it with you.

Marty said...

Abi, and all,
I'm a man. My walk with Christ has been enriched, nurtured, and cultivated by your ministry. While I appreciate the criticism put forth by the Church of Christ people, and the awkwardness of the flock at your church, let my testimony be one that you can share.
Most level headed Christians take the Church of Christ position as one that is not rooted in true Christian teachings. They're obsessed with having the only....I repeat....ONLY inspired word of God working in their world. I say, shake the dust off your robes as you turn your back on them. Shake the dust off your robes as you walk with Christ. Shake the dust off your robes as you see the fulfillment of the Holy Spirit...and pray for their deliverance from their narrow-mindedness.
I see you as a person of God. Because of you I head the lay-speaking cluster groups for the entire Southeast district. Because of you, a dern woman in robes, God is with me more than ever before in my life.
Don't succumb to the cheap shots...rather rise above them as a servant of our Lord. Be strong, and grow from this. These folks are afraid of a new truth, a new revelation, and a new person of God in their midst.
Rock on, Sister....rock on...for Christ!

Iris Godfrey said...

Dear RevAbi,

I am so sorry, deeply sorry for your heart pain caused by those in the CofC. I grew up CofC--my Dad and Dad-in-law were both CofC preachers. However, my Dad did a very good job of teaching my me to think -- to believe the Scriptures and to think. As a result -- I am now the CEO of a Christian ministry, and as you know, often in a pulpit on Sunday morning. So some good can come out of Nazareth!

Just pray for them and love them --don't try to argue Biblical truth -- because they genuinely do not understand. The narrow confines of their thinking processes has caused a blindness. Hence arguments go nowhere. Just pray,love and refuse to engage deeply on these matters.

Pray for those folk -- you never know who the Lord will set free. But don't trouble your heart much -- such opposition to you only advertises your presence. Our Lord uses what others say against us to multiply His own work at our hands. So rest your heart in Him and work on -- HE will use it all.

Their freedom must be a work of the Holy Spirit (very much so in my case -- through the Catholic Charismatic movement in Central NY)-- we can only cooperate with Him in the matter of changing hearts.

I am praying for you -- trusting Him to uphold and strengthen you.

the reverend mommy said...

yes, many of us have had our brushes with the C of C. I almost married a med student who was C of C, but he would not go through the pre-marital counseling with my pastor -- it had to be his. And I had to become C of C. I refused and we broke the engagement. A week later he married my best friend who WAS C of C.

Better her than I. I think that she IS living in hell right now (what little I hear from her.)

You have a hard row to hoe, sister. We'll be with you.