Unity and Mission

I have to admit something: Many of the discussions at the unity forums between a cappella Churches of Christ and Christian Churches at this week’s ACU Lectureship struck me as somewhat shallow, and the conclusions to which they came obvious. Things like, “Brothers and Sisters in Christ don’t need to be twins; God’s children are going to be different from one another,” “If we spend more time picnicking together, we won’t do as much nit-picking of each other,” and “Jesus Christ is central — not one’s opinions on instrumental music, church leadership, or missionary societies.” OK, I can buy all those statements. In fact, I think most people my age buy them. Seems to me like my generation might be a little more ecumenical than previous ones, and thus might have been a little jaded by a conversation about unity that pertained largely to “what we do in a church assembly.”

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that for many members of Churches of Christ and Christian Churches, this week’s unity forums were a big deal. They were, in a sense, stepping toward a reversal of over a century of ignorance of each other and apathy toward unity. They, for many, served as a stepping stone toward a reversal of ideology regarding the nature of fellowship and truth.

This was made especially clear when I read the following letter from John, a member of Christian Churches who has partnered with my uncle and aunt in Miami in a church planting project there. He, along with my uncle and aunt and another church planter, attended Lectureship this year to participate in the unity forums. As an aside, I am proud of how simple and obvious unity between these two groups in Miami has been. They are on mission together. They have a common foe, Satan. Working separately is not an option. It seems to me that uniting around a common mission is a no-brainer, but apparently it has taken us over 100 years to figure that out. Please read John’s letter:

This year I was invited by two fine Christian men to visit the ACU Lectureship 2006 in Abilene, Texas. They said that there were going to be talks about unity between the Acapella churches of Christ and the Christian churches. I was skeptical but I decided to attend to see what might be achieved. At the opening service the president of Abilene Christian University and the president Milligan College shared the platform and each spoke on John 1. The main point of Dr. Money’s speech was that it was time to break down the 100 year old barriers that had divided the two churches. This spirit of unity was shared throughout the whole three days of lectureship especially with men from both sides of the keyboard exchanging lectures at the Restoration Unity Forum. There were no judgmental attitudes displayed against those who use musical instruments in worship. There was a great openness to accept each other in the midst of our diversity. I was inspired by the ideas expressed there, and the desire to seek unity with our brothers in Christ.

Personally, I was also able to reunite with two former missionaries from the churches of Christ who served in Uruguay at the same time as we did. We had been friends there, and it was good to reunite with them. One of them now is the secretary for the board of directors of a mission that wants to start 12 churches in Miami. He invited me to meet with them and we talked about ways that we could possibly each other and cooperate in the task of evangelism and church planting. I was thrilled to state my openness to work with this project in any way that I could.

This unity effort is not new to me, because for the last couple of months we have been meeting in perfect harmony with brothers from the churches of Christ who have chosen the name Christians in Miami. While we were at the conference in Abilene we received a call from a Disciples of Christ church in Kendall that has agreed for us to use their facility from time to time for our joint meetings with Christians in Miami for midweek prayer meeting, and for use on Sunday \nafternoons as well. This means that brothers from all three wings of the Restoration movement are partnering together for the work of the Lord in Miami. It is an exciting time to see this unity for the sake of evangelism because Christ prayed that they all might be one so that the world might be won to him. We are thrilled to be participating in seeing this prayer of Christ answered at least in one little spot among our small groups of believers.

Please pray for us as we seek further unity in Christ with all Christians and pray that we be able to lead \nmany new people to salvation in Christ Jesus.

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