loyalty to heritage

encyclopediaI just got out of a meeting with the ACU Graduate School of Theology visiting committee. I was asked to join a sampling of the GST student population to engage in a discussion with the committee on “how well ACU is training men and women to minister in Churches of Christ.”

As far as I could tell, I was the only one (there may have been one other) in the group of students not planning to work on a staff in a Church of Christ. I guess you could say I expressed some “differing” views on how I view “loyalty” to my heritage.

First of all, I want to say that my heritage in Churches of Christ goes at least three generations deep, and I love the history of our little movement. I love that it began with unity in mind. I love that it values a return to biblical values. I love that it values and appreciates the Lord’s table and baptism. I love the smallness of the world inside the “brotherhood” (i.e. meeting people that know your parents in a small Church of Christ in Oklahoma, or something like that).

But as many of us know, we’ve often times made our world too small. We’ve failed to see God’s working in other “streams,” instead focusing on getting all the minute details of the Bible “correct” (not possible, in my estimation).

I kept hearing my classmates expressing their loyalty to Churches of Christ and decisions they’ve made along the way to “stay in” our fellowship. I guess this means they do not envision themselves joining a church staff outside the Churches of Christ. I was thinking, “Can I really say that? Can I commit to anything other than seeing where God is working and joining Him in that redemptive work?”
I was thinking the whole time this morning (and I even said this at one point), “God’s work in the world is SO much bigger than just one little sect. We need to begin to get a broader view of where and how God is working.”

The reason I think most younger people in America are “post-denominational” is because they see past “denominational loyalty” to a deeper recognization of what God is doing in the world. They go where they see life. They go where people are feeding the poor, clothing the naked (I mentioned this morning that social justice has traditionally been overlooked in our heritage).

Is discussion of “loyalty to the heritage” more about deep love for one’s roots and a desire to see “our people” follow God into the future, or is it a self-preservation reflex on the part of “die-hard Church-a-Christers?” Is there a difference? What’s a healthy approach to heritage?

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