Mike Cope's blog

Sunday, May 29, 2005

On our ride to Houston yesterday, we reached a new low. Chris and I were hot, of course, so we had the air conditioner blowing. To compensate, Diane had her seat warmer going. No wonder the world hates us! We have high-blast AC for the two who are hot and an electrically-heated seat for the one who is cold. We're here for a couple days with Matt and Jenna. This morning we get to visit their church for the first time. Tomorrow, we have tickets to see the Astros. If I've counted games correctly, the Rocket should be up to pitch. It's a good year to be an Astros pitcher. You know if you're going to win, you can't give up any runs. So you get serious from the first pitch. Just a question about our trip. Is there a rule that Churches of Christ in small towns HAVE to put signs just outside the city limits telling people where their building is located? I don't see those signs for Lutherans, for Methodists, for Catholics, or for Baptists. But almost every town you enter has a sign saying "The Blah-Blah-Blah Church of Christ welcomes you" followed by directions.


  • It's Biblical. They wouldn't do it if it weren't. I think it goes back to when Saul saw a sign just outside of Damascus. They are helping people to see the light.

    By Blogger Fajita, at 5/29/2005 06:20:00 AM  

  • Preacher Mike, you imitate your Savior once again:

    "And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation." - Mark 8:12 (KJV)

    By Blogger Keith Brenton, at 5/29/2005 06:23:00 AM  

  • Don't they need to know directions to the one true church? argh. don't you think it is left over from that kind of STUPID theology?

    By Blogger Brandon Scott, at 5/29/2005 08:29:00 AM  

  • Come on now, Mike! My mom and I could have really used one of those signs the day I drove her down to Luckenbach from Abilene. It took us FOREVER to find the place since it was just off the little country road just off another country road, just off . . .

    Well - you get the picture.

    But, the post office said the population was 2 and yet we found no little sign saying "The CHURCH of CHRIST meets HERE."

    We did find the bar (at the back of the post office) and the dance hall across the way and lots of bikers and tourists in attendance, so think it would be just the lovely place to go on a mission trip!!

    How about next Fourth of July when Willie has his sometimes annual 4th of July celebration?!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/29/2005 09:05:00 AM  

  • Diane is a woman after my own heart. And I married an Alaskan -- someone who has no concept of cold. You wouldn't believe the thermostat wars we've had.

    As for the signs, those poor out-of-towners need help finding their way to true salvation! Funny, my congregation doesn't have a sign. Uh-oh...

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 5/29/2005 11:58:00 AM  

  • I can remember when I was young driving throughout Texas and seeing those signs, which gave me a sense of comfort. Now I see those signs and think they probably wouldn't approve of me if I showed up. I get defensive when I am asked, "Are you a member of THE Church?"

    By Blogger David Michael, at 5/29/2005 11:59:00 AM  

  • Two things: first, welcome to the blast furnace of Texas, otherwise known as Houston. Come see us in August when you can sweat IN the air conditioning. Second, who knows of anyone who ever came to visit a church of Christ because they saw one of those signs? Yet the old guard still believes that's the way it's done. If they did it that way 30 years ago, we'd better do it that way today. Hmmm, is there a trend here? But I digress. They think people don't come to church because we don't have enough signs around town. Truth is, people don't come because the church of Christ usually has too much "church" and not enough "Christ." Enjoy your stay, and keep your eyes peeled for our Romans 16:16 signs!

    By Blogger Mr. Incredible, at 5/29/2005 12:15:00 PM  

  • ...and there must always be a Dairy Queen. Enjoy your weekend down here in the humidity.

    By Blogger Chad, at 5/29/2005 12:31:00 PM  

  • I've got a story topper for you. The Seventh Day Adventist Church has a huge sign welcoming everyone to Florida. I believe it is on I-75.


    By Blogger Steve Puckett, at 5/29/2005 01:56:00 PM  

  • Well, when you refuse to put a steeple on your building, don't use stain glass, and in general build churches that look like banks and doctors offices, a sign may be needed...

    By Blogger Mike, at 5/29/2005 02:08:00 PM  

  • First of all I have always been greatly amused at how intolerant those who demand tolerance are. Just because something has been done for the past 40 or 50 years doesn’t make it wrong. Maybe the Church of Christ is the only one offering hospitality? I wonder where is the love and compassion for the “unloving” part of our fellowship?

    I want to be part of a body where people love the people the Christ loves just because He loves them. Not because you are conservative, liberal, traditionalist, post modern, think, feel, worship, and act just like me. Sometimes I think we have become what we hate.

    As for the Church of Christ being the only ones who have the signs welcoming you to the town, please come and visit us in Yampertown, Alabama and in 30 minutes I can take you to 14 cities each with a barrage of denominations welcoming you to the town, (CofC included).

    And I do empathize with you. I have two sons and we all swelter while mom freezes. You might want to check into an electric blanket that you plug into the cigarette lighter. They are wonderful.

    Mike thank you for what you do.

    By Blogger Jeremy Houck <>, at 5/29/2005 02:15:00 PM  

  • Maybe the Church of Christ is the only one offering hospitality? . . . Sure, let's go with that. :)

    To be honest, I consider Churches of Christ my family. When I poke fun at them, I'm poking fun at me. It's family humor. Family fun. I know in my family we do that. It isn't because we don't love the family, but because we do. But we have quirks that are fun and funny to point out. Does that qualify as being intolerant?

    Sorry. Still think the signs are funny. Not because a church shouldn't welcome people to town . . . but just the way it kind of became an unspoken rule for a church with no headquarters.

    And I don't even want to get on what the churches had on their signs in front of their buildings as we drove through. Ugggh. That wouldn't be so fun or funny.

    By Blogger Mike, at 5/29/2005 02:33:00 PM  

  • When Chad and I went to interview at a church in the Metroplex in 2000, we pulled into the parking lot and were greeted by a marquee that said "DO YOU PREFER YOUR ETERNITY SMOKING OR NON-SMOKING?"

    We were so touched.

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 5/29/2005 04:32:00 PM  

  • Ever since I was a kid and learned about Paul and Silas in VBS, I always thought those signs were like a connect-the-dots Campaign for Christ scavenger hunt for young missionaries who could not afford to raise their own funds to go overseas.

    On our many car odysseys across the South/Southwest, my brother and I had a running tab game with 2 columns: the left column was for how many VW beetlebugs we spotted. The RIGHT column was for all the CofC signs.

    By Blogger Deb, at 5/29/2005 05:54:00 PM  

  • PS: Now that I'm several decades older, and many of those signs are not so well-maintained, what with the rust, dust, and hangin' off the hinges look, I'm guessin' that Paul and Silas took one look and got outa Dodge as fast as they could?

    By Blogger Deb, at 5/29/2005 06:01:00 PM  

  • It actually has become a game for me as I drive along Hwy 36. I try to find which sign is the most annoying. But, because I love my heritage and don't know who reads this, I'll refrain from divulging the sign that almost always wins.
    I must say, I've always liked the ones that simply put a verse up. How many people stop their vehicles, get our their Bibles and read the verse on the spot?

    By Blogger Chad, at 5/29/2005 07:30:00 PM  

  • Mike,

    I don't mind poking fun and my response wasn't aimed at you, or anyone else. I love jokes about the church as long as you can tell that they are jokes. And I couldn’t tell that from everyone here.

    I am just tired of people who are called to be unified taking pot shots at one another. I want to love the people Christ loved even if I don’t agree with their theology. I have decided to try to take the high road from here on out. I guess my first post didn’t exhibit that.

    By Blogger Jeremy Houck <>, at 5/29/2005 08:04:00 PM  

  • On the road to Seymour from Abilene (whatever that road is), there's a sign that says: "CHURCH OF CHRIST -- near the watertower." Phenomenal.

    By Blogger Melanie Knox, at 5/29/2005 08:23:00 PM  

  • Mike:

    Most of those churches gave directions just by listing their name... 5th and Main Church of Christ... Oil Field Road Church of Christ... I grew up at the 11th and Division Church of Christ. Only now do I see the irony.

    By Blogger Longhorn, at 5/29/2005 10:27:00 PM  

  • The C of C sign IS biblical. Just like keeping your trash can behind the right cupboard under the sink. Everyone knows that.

    Have fun watching the Rocket. Someone asked me the other day if he was the best pitcher ever. I had to think about it. I mean, I never SAW Walter Johnson, but he didn't pitch in the lively ball era either. Food for thought.

    By Blogger Thurman8er, at 5/29/2005 11:00:00 PM  

  • Mike,

    Visit the "Baptist Church of Christ" in Walling, Tennessee. To quote Dave Barry, "I am not making this up."

    There's half a piano in the sanctuary.


    By Blogger Julie W., at 5/30/2005 05:40:00 AM  

  • Julie, shouldn't that be "sanctutorium" or "audituary"? The CofC doesn't use the word sanctuary, do we?

    By Blogger MarkS, at 5/30/2005 05:51:00 AM  

  • Julia W - isn't it enough that I'm behind schedule having overslept this morning? Now I have to clean my PC's monitor, I laughed so hard I spurt breakfast all over the poor thing.. ;) "Half a piano..."????? LOL

    By Blogger Kathy, at 5/30/2005 07:54:00 AM  

  • There are plenty of things we don't do for the sole reason that the denominations did them. I think it's called "reactionary theology." I remember the quote attributed to the late Richard Rogers at Sunset in Lubbock:"We've given grace to the Baptists, the Holy Spirit to the Pentecostals, the Second Coming to the Premillenialists, and now all we're left with is a church building with no piano in it."

    By Blogger Mr. Incredible, at 5/30/2005 08:04:00 AM  

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    By Blogger Jeff, at 5/30/2005 08:11:00 AM  

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    By Blogger Jeff, at 5/30/2005 08:17:00 AM  

  • What will the sign just outside the city limits of Heaven say?

    Ok....there probably isn't one, BUT....that isn't going to keep me from visualizing the possibilites!

    "Welcome Home....you made it cause I had it right, not you."

    "Only one name counts up here"

    "Harps concert by David and the Shepherds tonight at 7:30. Special discount for ex-MOTC folks".

    And last but not least.....
    "Harding Reunion this coming Saturday, ALL alums invited".

    By Blogger David U, at 5/30/2005 08:48:00 AM  

  • Diane's day will come. I used to be cold-blooded, much to my husband's consternation. Then I turned 45 and we swapped places. Now he has a comforter on his side of the bed and I'm not using so much as a sheet.

    By Blogger KathyGS, at 5/31/2005 05:05:00 AM  

  • Mike - Believe it or not there are some believers like me - who some would describe as 'trapped in the modern world', plagued by 'legalism', and stymied by 'correctness' and 'rightness' - who are truly trying to 'break the mold' and bring outselves back to walking in the light. Many of us have veered off into the shadows and some into complete darkness. We look to beacons such as you and others to help us return to the light. You fail us sometime with what appears to be a condescending, down your nose, snickering, you poor corrupted soul attitude. It is even more disturbing when many of your (our) brothers join in with the finger pointing and hilarity. I have tried real hard to find 'family humor' in the observations about signage. It escapes me. Perhaps this is further evidence of my despair. I have been trying to get my arms around the concepts presented by Wade regarding 'content of faith' and 'quality of faith' - 'quality of faith' being the one I am coming to grips with. I now have two examples to show me the way. One is this blog regarding signage and the accompanying remarks and a direct quote from Wade talking about activities at an 'Emergent convention' some time ago. "I’m looking forward to seeing how much the conversation and the attitudes have changed. I remember at the first gathering we were doing breakout groups and discussing some pretty challenging issues. There was lots of self-congratulation in the room because we were so open to so many different points of view. Then some poor guy opened his mouth and started arguing from a “modern” point of view. He was beaten, dipped in hot coffee (Starbucks), sprinkled with brown sugar, and abandoned on a pier where he was pecked unrecognizable by a flock of Foucaultian seagulls. That’s what happened to foundationalists who dared to show their faces and make their Cartesian cases in Seattle back in ‘99".

    You have so much to offer. Please do not lower yourself to the level some of us have descended.


    By Blogger paul, at 5/31/2005 08:32:00 AM  

  • Although I don't know you personally, I read this blog often and am often uplifted by your messages and thoughts.

    However, I was disappointed in this post. To me, it does nothing but futher divide the more progressive members from the traditionalists, rather than trying to build bridges that unite us as one under Christ.

    I understand that this is your personal blog and you should post your personal thoughts, but the tone of this post was unfair and, in my opinion, spiteful.

    By Blogger Kate, at 5/31/2005 09:07:00 AM  

  • Wow Mike,
    I thought your post was funny, as my husband and I just returned on a 3300 mile trek from Texas to NC on I-20 and I-95. We got a chuckle at the CofC signs denoting where the building was. No offense meant, just amusing.

    Perhaps we take ourselves too serious at times?

    By Blogger Hoots Musings, at 5/31/2005 09:25:00 AM  

  • Reading some of the responses makes me recall a line from the Sarge in Bill Murray's "Stripes."

    "Lighten up, Francis."

    By Blogger Jeff, at 5/31/2005 01:03:00 PM  

  • Paul and Kate -

    I've gone back and re-read my original post a couple times. Are you sure you're not reading something into that? Are you sure it's condescending? In what sense is the tone unfair?

    Here, exactly, is what I wrote: "Just a question about our trip. Is there a rule that Churches of Christ in small towns HAVE to put signs just outside the city limits telling people where their building is located? I don't see those signs for Lutherans, for Methodists, for Catholics, or for Baptists. But almost every town you enter has a sign saying 'The Blah-Blah-Blah Church of Christ welcomes you' followed by directions."

    That's it. Nothing more. An observation. I don't think anyone is an idiot. I am not anti-sign. What's funny to me is that is something Churches of Christ have always done. Who decided? How does a group without a central headquarters come to that decision?

    Is that unfair and spiteful?

    By Blogger Mike, at 6/01/2005 05:06:00 AM  

  • Mike - Your acknowledgement and response is well received. Perception is so vital in any communication - as I am sure you as a professional communicator know so well. What we intended to say verbally or what we thought we communicated via the written word too often are percieved by the listener or reader differently. I saw your reference to the signs as another jab meant to trivialize another behavior of some of your brothers. I could see no practical value - even that of humor. There were others who responded in addition to Kate and I who also I think heard a different message than you intended to send. Enough - let's move on. I must agree with Tony, there are many more important things to be concerned about. Let me change gears abruptly. I too am happy for the progress of Chris. We have a closeness here that you are not aware. It was because of the accident that I became a steady reader of your blog. I found it to be the best source of information as events unfolded. My family and I lived in Abilene for 23 years (1964-1987). We lived around the corner from the Bourlands - David, Doe, Dawn, Jay, Jim, Brett and Bart. Our middle son and Brett are same age and were friends all through school. We were touched deeply by the death of Brody. We saw first hand the love and compassion extended to that family and we thank you and yours. We also know personally of the love and concern you and your family have shown directly to Brett and Jennifer. Thank you.

    By Blogger paul, at 6/01/2005 10:29:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    Perhaps my word choice was wrong. The blog entry just stuck a cord with me, and honestly, I'm not sure why.

    I think sometimes members of any certain group or family think it's okay to "make fun" of another member. Kind of like my sister used to say, "Nobody beats up my sister except me."

    Personally, I'm just trying to avoid that.

    I agree with both you and Paul that tone can often be misunderstood in email communication.

    Thanks for your time -

    By Blogger Kate, at 6/01/2005 01:01:00 PM  

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