Lessons From History

“A nation that forgets its past has no future,” (Winston Churchill).
I recently spoke to a cleric in another state who says his denomination is being “torn apart” over the question of whether they should worship with an organ, or a band. Personally he felt the organ was more “reverent.” I commiserated with him, for division is always heartbreaking, but I also pointed out (kindly, I hope) that while the Bible says nothing about bands and organs, it says a great deal about our worship in song.
For Churches of Christ it has never been about what society demands. We have never adopted a plan of action simply because “church growth studies” say the church will grow thereby. We have always looked to the past, for we are a Restoration Movement.
What we learned from the days of Campbell and Stone, and in the mid part of the twentieth century is that, when a church stands fervently for the word of God, there are people out there who are hungry to hear it, and the church will grow. In both periods, the churches of Christ were the fastest growing religious fellowship in America.
What we learn from the era of Constantine the Great, when the church began to fall away from scripture, and from the late nineteenth century when churches of Christ divided when some moved beyond what scripture said, was that when humans begin to feel they are superior to God’s word, division and heartbreak is the inevitable end.
Of course, we learn most when we turn to the pages of sacred history — the Scriptures — and seek its pages for warnings, commands, examples, and precedents. We seek to restore the New Testament church’s love, her desire to obey God, her world-wide vision. Going back to the Bible is not divisive; leaving God’s word for our own selfish desires — now that’s always divisive.
“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths; ask for where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16).

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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2 thoughts on “Lessons From History

  1. Nice article. There seems to be a strong desire to look at Christians in the realm of faith and religion as consumers. Organs will give way to bands till something new comes along to replace them. I understand there ought ot be great benefit to the worshipper in worship but when the desire of the worshipper takes precedent over God, then who is the worship truly for?

  2. I amen to your article.
    Most churches are more interested in the number than the truth side and that is sad.

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