“I Pray for Your Movement Every Day”

ICOCinfo published yesterday a letter from an evangelist in the “mainline” Church of Chirst named David Yasko. His roots in the COC go back to the thriving campus ministry days which gave birth to my family of churches, th International Churches of Christ. Back in the 80’s he was a youth minister in Muncie, Indiana when the church split to form what would become the Indianapolis Church of Christ (later renamed the Indianapolis International Church of Christ, but that’s another story). in one day, his church went fro, 400 to 150. He descibed a feeling of disbelef and sadness.

… disbelief that on the Sunday before the call to leave, we were brothers and sisters in Christ and the Sunday after the call to leave, we were not.
The second feeling was sadness. Sadness at seeing people who had stood up and defended the work on the campus who were told they weren’t sold out enough, and mega sadness at those in the campus group who were not asked to accompany the main group to Indianapolis. When they asked why they weren’t invited to be a part of the new movement they were told, “you didn’t have what it takes to be a disciple.” To this day I have never seen a group of people as devastated as that particular group.

It hurts my heart to hear these words. I know that, indirectly, I was a part of some of that devastation. I never went through a church split, but I’ve been surrounded by them. I was baptized in the Cincinnati COC, which only months earlier had been the ‘Gateway’ COC before being reconstructed by folks out of Boston. I wonder how many couldn’t go along with that and left. How many friendships were severed? My wife was baptized in that Indianapolis COC, born from the split David describes. Later, years after she had left for Cincinnati, it too split when their leader decided he couldn’t go along with much of the ICOC doctrine anymore. More relationships broken. Good friends of ours hurt, some left never to return. Over the years two different churches in the Columbus area were split when a ‘remnant’ was called out of each of them to go to Boston, or Cincinnati or wherever because somebody determined that there wasn’t a ‘sold out’ group of ‘true disciples’ here in Columbus. Years later we marched into town to do what somebody decided – who am I kidding – we decided no one in Columbus was doing, save the city. Foolish, arrogant people we were. It makes me shudder to think of the devastation that paved the way for my arrival here.
But David Yasko didn’t write to ICOCinfo to remind us of what we’d done.

I’m writing to tell you not to lose heart.
It’s hard when somebody you look up to, or looked up to, starts viewing you and the movement you love as an enemy. It hurts when something you sacrificed so much for is called “dead and dying” by the man who drove the dream for so many years. When the movement you worked so hard to build has its unity threatened by someone you love and trust it rattles your heart. Because you want to say, “wait a minute, we’re on the same team, aren’t we?” And you want to think the answer to that is “yes” but stuff keeps happening that seems to suggest the other alternative. …
And through it all, we are still called to be the Body of Christ. We are still called to go about the business of teaching the lost about Jesus and baptizing them into the Kingdom. We are called to be soldiers of the cross and and belong to the army of God. We are called by Paul to share in the fellowship of sufferings. We are called by Jesus to take Christ to the culture and the Word to the world. We are told to run with endurance the race that is set before us. We are told there will be defectors. We are told there will be detractors. We are told there will be those who preach with impure motives. And still we are called to be ministers of the Gospel of Christ. We are told not to look to the right or to the left, but to keep our eyes on the goal and do our best to get to the finish line still running for Jesus. To get to heaven by God’s grace and with God’s grace take as many people to heaven with us as we can.

Thank you, David. Thank you for your grace to my fellowship and your continued prayers, even after it turned it’s back on you. But mostly, thank you for reminding me that we are all on the same team, even if some don’t want to play with us anymore. I had forgotten that. When they started telling me that I was the enemy, I had begun to believe it and had begun to act as if they were mine as well.

7 thoughts on ““I Pray for Your Movement Every Day”

  1. Hey Doug,
    Boy does that bring back some painful memories. There have been a lot of ungodly things done to people over the years in the name of making disciples of Jesus. The proverb is true:
    Prov 19:2 It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.
    One of my goals with my blog is to try to make right some of the wrongs from the past.

  2. As I read this posting, I couldn’t help but share a recent experience of mine.
    A couple of weeks ago I celebrated my 50th birthday. My wife had a party and invited people from our past congregations that we had been associated with. There were people from the mainline COC, the ICOC, the Christian church, some from churches “in-between” and even some people that were no longer going to church. My 78 year old father who has been a minister within the mainline church for 50 years comes up to me and says, “I’m getting ready to go, but before I do, do you think we could all sing the song “The Greatest Command”.
    As we sang the song I looked around the room. Tears were flowing down my fathers face, everyone was singing and I wondered to myself, why couldn’t we be doing this all the time. I think if we would ever get ourselves out of God’s way He could do a mighty work. Will it ever happen? I’m not sure, but that song told me it could if we wanted it to. That song was by far the greatest birthday gift that I received. I hope I don’t have to wait 50 more years to experience it again.
    Thanks Dad for believing it could happen. And thanks Doug for being there to help make it special.

  3. Bryant, that song was truly a beautiful thing. I was nearly in tears myself, especially as I looked at your Dad. I remember looking around that room and wondering, where have I been that I didn’t know most of these people already?
    Maybe there’s something you and I can do about that. I’m not sure what, but I bet there’s something.

  4. I enjoyed that post on ICoC Info as well. My hope is that if we are going to stay in the Restorationist tradition, many of us can work together and be united.
    Hard to believe, maybe, but I dream of a safe and unified brotherhood of man. I have a hope that Heaven is larger than I previously thought, though still at the end of a less-traveled path.

  5. Doug,
    I found your blg while doing a Google search of Indy. I enjoyed reading your blog — keep up the good discussion!
    I have something I’d like to share with you and your blog readers. I live in Columbus, OH, and out of work. I’m looking for a job as an Human Resources manager. Indianapolis is our ideal location as my wife is originally from north-central IN (Bunker Hill) and a grad of Ball State. We’re both Christians. I found your blog site because I felt the Lord wanted me to do a Google search on “let down your net Indianapolis”. (Hey, if God can use Balaam’s donkey, why can’t He use Google?)
    My resume can be viewed at the url I listed.
    If anyone knows of any openings in HR, please let me know!
    Thanks and God bless!
    Jerry Winans

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