Mike Cope's blog

Friday, February 10, 2006

All abuse coming to me is richly deserved. A pastors' conference in Kauai? Those Christian Church guys know how to pick a conference site. In Churches of Christ, we usually go for exotic places like Abilene, Lubbock, and Midland. (Well, there is that annual pilgrimage to Malibu.) Actually, I think this was exotic even for them. They went there because this is the last year for Bob Russell (who I think maybe started the group many years ago) as senior pastor of the Southeast Christian Church in Louisville--a church of about 19,000. This year is the 100th anniversary of the formal division between Churches of Christ and Christian Churches, so it's one of many activities planned together. Building megachurches is no longer a big vision for me. I more prefer the idea of sending out Christ-followers who will seep into every crevice of society as they participate in the mission of Jesus. This may result in large churches, small churches, cell churches, etc. Having said this, it was wonderful to meet so many of these men and women who have given their lives for evangelism. Very inspiring. (Some of the specific lessons I learned I'll try to come back to later.) They have built churches that have preached and lived the good news. We come from different backgrounds, different schools (theirs tend to be Bible colleges and ours tend to be universities), different conferences, different churches, etc. But we have so much heritage in common. One of their ministers told me that it seems to him that they were trained to be evangelists while we were trained to be theologians. That's exaggerated, of course. But it does indicate that we could certainly use the help each group could offer the other. Now -- about Kauai. What can I say? (Unnecessary note to Highland members: yes, we paid our own way.) Diane and I love to hike together, so we hiked all over the canyon: on the stunning Kalalau trail (with views of the Na Pali coast), to the top of the Sleeping Giant on the west-side trail, to the bottom of Wailua Falls, and on parts of several trails through Waimea Canyon. I also snorkeled a little, but Diane thought the water was a wee bit cold. Against my best judgment (with a touch of acrophia that only kicks in with tiny aircraft, bridges, and some buildings -- all things made by people -- I feel pretty good on things that God made like mountains), we took a helicopter ride that is one of the most amazing things I've ever done for sheer beauty. We missed the last part of the conference. A 7th grade basketball game to get back to, you know.


  • Mike - I appreciate you for going and carrying the torch in Hawaii. :-) The Christian Chronicle has a good piece this month on our heritage with these fellow Christians. But, I must admit, the dialogue the CC presents among Christian and cofC preachers and theologians - while enlightening - was also frustrating due largely to the cofC preacher from Tennessee that apparently has the "silence" of Scripture (as it pertains to instrumental music) and the Almighty completely figured out.

    By Blogger KentF, at 2/10/2006 05:42:00 AM  

  • I took my wife to Hawaii a few years back. We did the snorkling, but not the helicopter trip. I was all for it, but she couldn't be convinced.

    I hope you had a meaningful conference. It is refreshing to hear that people are talking about ways to unite and come back together, instead of building up walls based on old "core belief" systems. (I assume you have read your copy of Harding Magazine, right?)

    Thanks for your blog. Such a blessing.

    By Blogger chenalgolfer, at 2/10/2006 05:45:00 AM  

  • Sounds wonderful...you guys deserve it!!

    By Blogger Beverly, at 2/10/2006 05:45:00 AM  

  • Kent -

    That really is frustrating.

    What I think we're going to find is that there are some big differences between the two groups--but not the ones we imagined.

    In other words, I don't think instrumental music will prove to be a major issue in the discussions. Fewer and fewer members of Churches of Christ buy into the hermeneutics of the 1950s (that argument from silence). Many of us are thankful for the blessing and strengths of acappella music, but not opposed to instrumental music.

    Larger issues will surface as the discussions continue. But what an opportunity for growth!

    By Blogger Mike, at 2/10/2006 05:47:00 AM  

  • KentF - could you please post a link to that article you referenced?

    By Blogger kenny, at 2/10/2006 05:48:00 AM  

  • Living in Florida, out of the mainstrea of cofc, has been such a fresh experience in regard to relationships with Christians and ministers from all churches. I spent my first 8 years here as a volunteer police chaplain. Our five chaplains represented: Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Nazarene, and Church of Christ. We found that we had a lot more in common than we did differences.

    Now I have a Tuesday Pastors prayer/accountability group that has literally taken me through when times have been the darkest and most challenging. This group has five different "tribe" represented.

    God is much bigger and much fuller of grace than we ever are ouselves.

    By Blogger Steve Puckett, at 2/10/2006 05:52:00 AM  

  • sorry, ourselves.

    By Blogger Steve Puckett, at 2/10/2006 05:53:00 AM  

  • Mike, I am right there with you on the megachurch thing. I think that more and more people today are coming to see that you need to have good, solid relationships and those come in smaller churches.

    With that said, though, it has been a blessing to be here in Louisville for the past 8 months and see just how much Southeast Christian does around here. Of all of the megachurches I have heard of around the country, they are probably the most theological. And the people I know who go there absolutely love it.

    By Blogger Kent, at 2/10/2006 05:56:00 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Mike, at 2/10/2006 06:00:00 AM  

  • That's right. I'm not against megachurches -- not at all. They tend to battle the tendency to be consumeristic; but they certainly don't have to cave into that pressure. As I said, we need churches of all sizes.

    It's just that I don't think this is the wave of the future. Building a megachurch isn't the dream I hear in the hearts of young men and women. They envision being part of something that is smaller, more organic. Their theme could be: "The Church Has Left the Building."

    By Blogger Mike, at 2/10/2006 06:01:00 AM  

  • I love that theme; The Church has left the building....

    I think it will be my theme.

    By Blogger DJG, at 2/10/2006 06:21:00 AM  

  • My first nine years of life was spent in the Church of Christ. Then for the next twenty-three I was in and out of many Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (independent). I did my undergrad at a Independent Christian Church school in Maryland, and I am now in my second year at ACU. The comment about "preachers/evangelists and theologians" being distinct characteristics of either stream in this tradition runs true in my own experiences - and I have been shaped, stretched, formed and blessed by both.

    It is my hope that more than dialogue continues to take place within these two very similar and historically linked groups, but that both will allow themselves to bless the other, rather than point out each others perceived defects. I heard a book title a couple of years ago (still haven't taken the time to get the book though) called "Great Adventures in Missing the Point". Perhaps (I really know) we have all done, and are continuing to, do this in our lives and fractured yet vital tradition(s).

    It is great to hear what is taking place. Blessings - dps

    By Blogger Donald Philip Simpson, at 2/10/2006 06:27:00 AM  

  • Like Steve Puckett, being out of range of the Bible belt, Christian living is challenging because kids are lucky to have even two or three others who go to church with them, much less teachers and principals and counselors. That's not to say it hasn't been a blessing. I think God likes a good challenge. And what I'm finding out from ministers and members of other congregations, as Mike said, we really aren't that different. Even down to the scuffles and knit-picky stuff we get upset about. But, what I love the most is to see different "parts" of Christ's body performing their God given function in this world, just like I try to do with all my heart each day. God truly is full of grace, beyond our comprehension.

    By Blogger Logan and Katie Brown, at 2/10/2006 06:34:00 AM  

  • Mike wrote:
    Building megachurches is no longer a big vision for me. I more prefer the idea of sending out Christ-followers who will seep into every crevice of society as they participate in the mission of Jesus. This may result in large churches, small churches, cell churches, etc.

    Check out National Community Church. They are like this. Here's a quote from one of their leaders regarding their identity:

    "We're like the tabernacle in Old Testament times," Batterson says. "We're a mobile church, with flexibility and fluidity. You don't need a building or 500 people to go multi-site. Wherever your ministry is based, let's walk into the marketplace of ideas and compete for our culture!"

    By Blogger Steve Jr., at 2/10/2006 06:53:00 AM  

  • I really like that theme of "The Church Has Left the Building".

    By Blogger Candy, at 2/10/2006 06:55:00 AM  

  • You went to Hawaii for a pastors' conference when there's a perfectly good lectureship going on in Henderson, Tennessee this week?!?

    Apparently, you've never eaten Jacks Creek BBQ or you'd make wiser choices. :-)

    By Blogger Matt Elliott, at 2/10/2006 07:29:00 AM  

  • Even worse, Matt...there's a lectureship right in Mike's own hometown next week, and I know he's heard of Harold's BBQ!

    By Blogger MarkS, at 2/10/2006 07:48:00 AM  

  • Kenny ask for a link to the Christian Chronicle article. It can be found on the main site (www.christianchronicle.org) or here:

    By Blogger KentF, at 2/10/2006 08:01:00 AM  

  • To read some discussion about the Chronicle article check here:


    By Blogger Wade, at 2/10/2006 09:12:00 AM  

  • Another neat thing for our kids has been going to Covenant Christ School that has about 30 or more churches represented in their student body. Our kids have been able to see how churches and members should cooperate for the common good and God's glory. They also see that there are no perfect churches, only people in need of God's grace.

    In my oldest daughter's 11th grade Bible class they have been asked to visit a church that is much different from their church and write an impression paper.

    Religious and racial prejudice were certainly the two most devasting influences in Bible times and they are seeking to destroy godly influences in the world today.

    Let me also say that I'm in on the Jack's Creek BBQ. Nothing finer.

    By Blogger Steve Puckett, at 2/10/2006 09:42:00 AM  

  • The pressing question is when is the conference in Hawaii for Church of Christ and Christian Church MEMBERS? Keep us posted!

    By Blogger Amy Boone, at 2/10/2006 09:53:00 AM  

  • Hey, Steve -- didn't I set your car on fire somewhere near Jack's Creek in 1981??

    By Blogger Matt Elliott, at 2/10/2006 09:56:00 AM  

  • Matt, yes, I believe the block was melted, if I remember correctly. It was a Monte Carlo, beige in color. However, all is forgiven, just keep sending me those $100 monthly checks.

    By Blogger Steve Puckett, at 2/10/2006 09:57:00 AM  

  • Church of Christ-ers as theologians? Don't you think that's kinda funny...and untrue? I realized quickly how far behind I was theologically upon taking my first theology course in seminary. Biblicaly literate, for sure. (Thanks, ACU.) Theolgically literate, not so much.

    By Blogger jch, at 2/10/2006 10:53:00 AM  

  • How funny...I just returned today from Oahu! It's amazing how one longs for paradise after being in a place like Hawaii. What a wonderful God that would make pretty places just to bring us joy! Being a photographer, I took just over 900 images in just under 7 days. My camera is still smokin'!
    Hope your experiences were as life changing and beautiful as mine!

    By Blogger Snapshot, at 2/10/2006 05:08:00 PM  

  • Okay, enough about Hawaii you people!

    Mike, we're enjoying the treat of having David Wray with us. You're one lucky dude to have an elder like that!

    By Blogger Amy, at 2/10/2006 10:02:00 PM  

  • I'm thinking there's a great series out there with the "Church has left the Building" line....

    Took a helicopter ride over Maui a few years ago & loved every thrilling minute of it! Hawaii is so beautiful.

    By Blogger annie, at 2/11/2006 11:52:00 AM  

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