New links

I'm posting a few new links today. Since these are all related to my church, The Columbus Church of Christ, I'm doing a combined 'about' blog for them all.

The first is our church web site. Back in 1996, Maria and I quit our jobs and moved to Columbus to be a part of a mission team to start this new church. We head no savings to speak of and, on the day we left Detroit (and our health insurance!), we found out that she was pregnant with baby number 2. In hindsight it seems quite foolish, but we had complete faith that God would take care of us, and He did. We stayed in my sister's basement for a month before finding a place of our own. We found a guy who rented us an apartment with no jobs or income because he was sure we "we're going to do just fine". Within about 6 weeks of arriving we both had jobs. My new job's health insurance covered the birth as well, which was a great relief.

Since arriving, the church has grown from the original 25 to somewhere around 125 today. Most of that growth happened in the first couple of years. It's been a wild ride, with amazing ups and a few downs.

The second is our church family's web site. We are part of the International Churches of Christ, who's official home page is called UpCyberDown. The past couple of years have been challenging ones for our church here and our family of churches worldwide. Once one of the fastest growing church groups in the world (from a single church of 30 in 1979 to over 100,000 members worldwide now), in the past year the majority of the structure tying our churches together has been dismantled. Quite frankly, over the years our intense, single-minded passion to win the world for Jesus has resulted in some very unfortunate abuses of authority. Some stupid things were done in the name of Jesus and 'discipling' and many people have been hurt. Many churches and leaders offered apologies over the last year and the hierarchy that contributed to the abuses was dismantled. The churches are more loosely affiliated now and each one is deciding where to go from here. Many people have left for what they felt were greener pastures (no judgment intended), including good friends here in Columbus, and I had, for a time, considered doing the same. It's been an incredible time for me to learn about God, perhaps more so than any time since I first studied the Bible and became a Christian 15 years ago. The church here in Columbus seems to be coming out of this pretty well now. A new broader leadership base is being established including our first Deacons (myself included, overseeing the Children's ministry) and hopefully Elders in the near future. More importantly, a new focus away from legalism and accountability and on grace and love is building. I'm excited to watch it grow.

Two other new links are related, though not directly tied to our churches. ICOCNewsis the 'unofficial' news site for the ICOC churches. Started by a then member of the ICOC affiliated Chicago Church of Christ, now a member of the Naperville Church of Christ, it aims to report on happenings within the ICOC from a position outside the official leadership (there are other editors that remain in the ICOC). Members send in some articles and observations while others are pulled from church web sites and other official sources. It was born out of the revelations and changes of the last year and has, for me, been a great source of information for challenging my faith and convictions. Helped me determine just what I believe and why.

Lastly, InFellowship is run by the same guy as ICOCNews, but is a discussion forum. It's purpose, from the main page:

This online community is designed to be a place where those in the International Churches of Christ and those in the Churches of Christ (and other restoration movement churches) can be "in fellowship" with each other.
The slogan for this site is "For God against no one". We will not all agree on everything, and that is certain to be a source of much conversation. But the point is that those who consider each other to be "in fellowship" together though we may worship in different congregations can fellowship here.

Those that wish to debate or tear down any particular church or group of churches are encouraged to do so on other forums and not here. Disagree -- sure -- but from the perspective of being "in fellowship" with each other.

Those churches listed all have a common heritage called the "Restoration Movement". Despite our common heritage, division rather than unity has marked our present and recent past. This site attempts to be a place where we can come together and learn from each other and grow closer to God. I've found it an incredible place to meet new disciples and ask questions about issues I'm wrestling with. Deep discussions, I visit there often.

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