A Battle For Direction

For more than one hundred years Churches of Christ have drifted in a direction of legalism and division.  We tug-of-warhave emphasized worship styles and legalistic intellectualism while forgetting to reach out to those who desperately need to hear about Jesus.  I know there are those who take issue with this statement.  Disagreement with what I have said doesn’t change the truth.  We are involved in a battle for the direction of Churches of Christ today.  At stake are the souls of mankind both present and future.

One direction would emphasize worship styles and intellectual doctrine.  The other would place emphasis on the preaching of Jesus Christ as Messiah.  Since the message of Daniel Sommer so many years ago Churches of Christ have drifted into an attempt to convert the world to how we practice Christianity.  Instead of converting the world to the church our preaching should convert the world to Jesus Christ.  If we convert the world to Jesus, God will take care of adding them to the church.

The emphasis of Jesus was serving His fellow man, doing good, and seeking the lost.  If we are to follow in the footsteps of Jesus we must emphasize the same things He held as important.  Instead of Christians who can win Scriptural arguments, the Lord needs Christians who are willing to search for those who need Jesus.  It is time we learned  what is taught inside church buildings has no value if it doesn’t translate to the streets.

We are in a battle for the present and future direction of the church.  It will be a hard battle.  Those of us who attempt to sway the direction away from legalistic intellectualism back to the preaching of Jesus will be labeled.  We will be called false teachers, change agents, post-modernists, and a multitude of other things. None of this matters so long as the Lord calls us good and faithful at judgment.  This battle for direction will be fought one Christian one congregation at a time.   Don’t be afraid of the names.  Fear not what man can do.  Let us continue to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified.


7 Responses to A Battle For Direction

  1. Jan says:

    Wonderful post Dell! How true this is. Until people realize it’s all about a close personal realtionship with God and Christ the point is being missed. The Holy Spirit helps us with becoming closer to God and Christ through prayer and study of the Word. When this part is right the rest will follow suit.

  2. Matt Clifton says:


    Interesting article. The desire to follow Jesus more closely should be in each and every one of us. If we are not taking up our crosses and following Him, then we are not the disciples He desires.

    With that said, I think it is important to remember that stereotypes abound on both sides of the argument. For instance, “progressives” (I despise labels but we have to use them sometimes) are often practitioners of postmodern thought. But not always.

    Likewise, when you draw the line between “conservatives” and “progressives,” you seem to paint the “conservatives” as always being people who are not reaching out to those who need Jesus. Instead, you seem to pigeon-hole them as “legalists” and a people obsessed with worship styles.

    Brother, one can affirm the doctrine of the church without sacrificing an emphasis on evangelism and benevolence. In fact, the doctrine of the church affirms these things!

    Many years ago, the phrase became popular, “Give me Jesus, but not the church.” I know you do not agree fully with that idea. Jesus shed His precious blood for His church (Acts 20:28). We must be careful that we be balanced in our teachings. We must teach Jesus and the church.

    Anyway, I respect your comments in this article, and I understand where you are coming from. I look forward to talking with you more on this issue.

    in Christ,

    Matt Clifton

  3. Matt,
    It isn’t my intention to paint with a broad brush. I realize that all who would call themselves conservative do not forsake evangelism. I only intend the thought in general terms. Generally speaking we need to change where we find our identity and place our emphasis. Thanks for the comment. dell

  4. Matt Clifton says:


    I understand. While I somewhat agree with your thoughts, it is also evident that lazy evangelism is evident in denominational churches as well, with some exceptions. Instead of looking only at practices in the churches of Christ, in my opinion we need to stretch out and see what is happening in society in general that causes lack of interest in evangelism.

    God bless you, brother. 🙂

  5. Matt Clifton says:


    BTW, for those who do not know where I am coming from (Dell understands where I am coming from on evangelism), I believe the church today is stagnate in many locations because we are afraid to confront anyone with the truth. IMO, that is why postmodernism is so attractive to the church at this point in time: it alleviates the burden of approaching denominational people with the truth of the Bible’s teachings on the church, baptism, etc.

    Anyway, Dell knows this, but I wanted to make sure casual readers understand that I not criticizing Dell for his desire to improve evangelism and focus on Christ, but rather I think societal influences have caused our lack of evangelism, not “legalism” and focus on worship styles. Although both are certainly not good things. 😉

    May the Lord bless you as you seek His will!


  6. June says:

    Dell, I would like to make contact with a congregation in the Chicago area that is ALIVE. If you have any contacts in that area, please e-mail me. Thanks.

  7. 1 Middle Man says:


    I would encourage you to read the book, “Christ…No More, No Less” by Milton Jones. He uses the book of Colossians as a user friendly means to teach and to reach postmoderns today. He makes some interesting points in relationship to the fact that the Colossians were the Postmoderns of their day — very compelling. I do believe that “progressives” seek to find ways to reach postmoderns, rather than “to give in to the cultural midset.” In my experience, I do not believe that most conservatives either understand nor do they care about postmodernism or dealing with the cultural trappings it provides. Their mindset is…what worked 50 years ago should work the same to day — it is the same Bible. Yes, but it is not the same people, so something has to change…and it has to be our methods, our approach, our understanding. Blessings, Don

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