Remind Me Again, Why Is Unity So Hard?

I know that several of the readers of this blog are very concerned with unity between churches and church groups, particularly between the various restoration movement fellowships. Let me share something with you that I read today from Dan at Cerulean Sanctum:

I go to Clear Mountain Community Church in Williamsburg, OH. It's an independent Pentecostal church that is one of the most unusual churches I've ever encountered. What makes it unique is that it is a church merge (as opposed to a split–that in itself is rarer), but it's the merger of a Pentecostal church and a Church of Christ. Yeah, you read that right. I've been there a year-and-a-half and I still can't believe it.
If that COC can find enough common ground with a Pentacostal church to merge with them, why in the world can't the rest of us in the restoration movement, with all that we share, come together?


I'd love to know how many changes were made for this to happen. The COC and the CC can't agree on a piano. When I asked a minister about the ICOC I got an interesting look. I realize that with God all things are possible, with people all things can get messed up. Interesting mix.

When I asked a minister about the ICOC I got an interesting look.

Yeah, Millie. I bet you did. ;-)
Some people outside the ICOC have either not yet heard that we have been going through a bit of an awakening/changing period. And I'm sure some people have heard about that and rejoice a little too much.

Doug, I'm not sure, either. But it seems to me that somebody had to comprimise what they believed. I'm not sure I could do that.

Hang out with them? ABSOLUTELY!!

But Merge? I dunno.

I'd also love to hear more details about how that was accomplished.

Obviously there is a potential sticking point with the charismatic subject. Maybe a "don't ask, don't tell" policy could be sufficient (Rom 14, keep between yourself and God).

Conversion may or may not be an issue -- I think some pentecostal churches are not so far away from the churches of Christ on that. OTOH some churches of Christ are backing away from the traditional hardline stance. Hopefully they haven't abandoned the core teachings.

If it isn't to late I have a question.

What is the big difference between ICOC and COC? Danny Kaye gave me the Unity Information. Still don't know. Asked the minister at my church, in his defense on a Sunday before the sermon isn't a good time to ask. If you've heard him you'd know why. He's very good at what he does. ;-) I'm a break it down and bottom line it person. So lots of grafts, charts, and projections make me a bit crazy. The big difference in the COC and CC is a piano or organ. Simple. You're an organic or non-organic church.

Hey Milly,

There were some fairly deep philosophical differences in the 1980's that led the Crossroads / Boston movement folks to pull away from the churches of Christ. To oversimplify, the new movement seemed to be rejecting some (but not all) of the technical patternist approaches and conclusions of the churches of Christ, and calling for what they percieved to be a greater level of commitment and personal sacrifice. Perhaps they were moving farther from the head religion of the Campbells toward the heart religion of Barton Stone... with a heavy dose of accountability and human authority. As I said, this is an oversimplification. There always were a lot of important things in common, but there were some nontrivial differences. I don't think the differences are as great today and I don't think they should stand in the way of unity between the groups.

Another historical difference was discipling. The ICOC was known early on as the 'discipling movement'. Although the concept of discipling remains important in most of the ICOC churches, it's practiced in a wide variety of ways and to a variety of degrees and almost nowhere like it was in the past.

Alan is right, however, we are more like the rest of the COC's now that we were before. More alike than different.

Thanks guys I'm still not too sure of the big differences. HMM research. Were ICOCs invited to the Unity ISWW? It seems to me that they should be if we are so close. (Now I'm stepping into it.)

Hi again Milly,

There are a lot of Restoration Movement unity efforts going on, and I think the ICOC has not been included in most of them. I don't know if that is by decision or oversight. I know the ICOC has participated at the ACU lectureships for the past several years. And there are lots of unity efforts going on at the congregational level. I also know that (unfortunately IMO) some in the ICOC do not place a high priority on mending fences with the mainline churches.


Odd hypothetical question that I have wanted to ask but knew that my site won't get a lot of response. What if unity is to happen, what if It's in the Bible that when we are at peace in the churches then it all happens? (Being careful not to say what I'm want to say) I wonder if I could actually turn this into a question that some might think on.

Hi Millie,
Let me give it a go.

The ICOC/Discipling Movement/Boston Movement/Whatever, was a very exciting and energetic and passionate movement to have been baptized. They held to many of the core beliefs of the COC, but there were obvious differences.

The Mainline COC, (that would be, for the most part, all the COC's outside the ICOC) was viewed as uncommited because there was no accountability or expectation that everyone give their all.
(Yes, I know how that sounds. You asked. I'm tellin'. Consider this a history lesson. And history ain't always pretty.)

When I became a Christian, the one thing that I knew set the ICOC apart from other groups was the actual expectation that every single member would be 100% sold out, go anywhere, do anything, and give up everything for Jesus and His Church.

Everyone was expected to be discipled (or trained, if you will) by a more mature brother or sister. This sometimes (others may argue that it was most times) abused. The discipler was given a little too much authority over the disciplee, and the disciplee would many times be told to get humble and become like the discipler. Obiously that is a recipe for disaster.

The ICOC was heavily involved in world evangelism. We had this crazy idea that God actually wanted "all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." Ok...We had a couple things on straight. We sent mission teams out all over the world at a dizzying pace. We were all fired up about it and were willing to make some pretty crazy sacrifices for the cause. (Again, we had some things on straight.)

Eventually, the folks at the top became disunified. The whole thing came crashing down and then all Kingdom Come broke loose! Attitudes about leaders and leadership style were expressed in a way that perhaps was not best. But they needed to come out, rather than stay in.

That was a few years ago. The whole unity issue with us now is a good thing. We all shared an experience during those rapid-fire years that no one can take away. There is a bond between ICOC members that can't be denied. We were a world-wide band of brothers and sisters who all felt the same passion and intense desire to evangelize this planet in our generation.

That is pretty much it. Keep in mind that this is just how I personally see it. Others will no doubt have a different point of view.
Just in case Doug doesn't want this to be a discussion furthered on his site, (which I would totally understand) I will post this thing on my site and you may comment there, or here if Doug wants to keep the thread going in the direction it's going.

It's a good question, Millie. I think you and I are alike in that we don't really understand all that Barton Stone/Campbell stuff. (Please take no offense Alan)

Discuss away. As long as you don't start calling names and throwing virtual rocks at each other, the comment threads can go wherever they lead.

Milly - I'm flattered that my little slice of the blogosphere is considered a place wiht more traffic. Doesn't happen much. :-P ON your question, I'm not sure what you're asking. What if we were really unified? What would happen? Amazing things, I think. More that we can imagine I bet.

Jeff - You've hit on something that's been rolling around my head for a while (and what I was trying, badly, to get at here). Namely, with all the bad stuff that happened, what good is our ICOC heritage after all? Maybe I'll attempt to answer that later.

Hey Jeff,

No offense... I don't mean to suggest that there was a conscious effort to move from Cambpell to Stone, or even an awareness that it was happening. What I'm really saying is that there is nothing new under the sun. We weren't (aren't) as innovative and unique as we may have thought. We never strayed all that far from our roots, and are probably closer to them now than ever.


Once again Thanks. The question of unity has been in my head and what if? Is it His plan to unite the churches then what. . I'm a taking it to my site because this needs time for me to post the question and not get rocks.

I am always optimistic when those in power squabble we learn a lot for our falls.

You would enjoy Wade Hodges. He preached on Stone and Campbell.

Well, it looks like I have to make a retraction. Apparently I am the only one who doesn't know the difference between Cambell and Stone.
I always thought they were kinds of soup. ;-)

Sorry, Millie. I don't mean to insult your intelligence.

Doug, I will be interested in reading your post on our heritage. I know I have cherished it deeply.

You said, "I don't mean to suggest that there was a conscious effort to move from Cambpell to Stone,..."

Maybe someday i will take the time to look up what in the world that means.
Like I said before...a coupla kinds of soup, right?

Honestly, Wade Hodges Jeff it's linked here. ;-}

I take it back only his blog is here. He is a minister


I used to own a book, "The Eternal Kingdom: A History of the Church of Christ" by F.W. Mattox that I thought contained a good overview of our legacy, including the Major Players like Stone and Campbell.

'Liked the soup comment. But then, so did you, right? :)

I like Wade Hodges' stuff, too.


I graduated from HS in Bartlesville in '75...

Cool another Okie to talk with. It's hot here in Oklahoma right now. Yep, adios spring ya'll.

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