Churches Of Christ/Condemned by my COC family

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Question
Hello Mr. Hoyt,
My husband and I are former COC members (me my whole life and he converted as an adult). After the ridiculous amount of judgment and condemnation by the churches we attend stating "we are the one true church and anyone other than COC is not saved" we could not in good conscience worship there anymore. We now attend a Christian church that is not on my family's approved COC list because it is not called COC. Their reasons are because we don't go to the "right church" and that our church teachings are false. Even though my husband and I have clearly taken the scriptural necessary steps to be saved (and have been baptized). Our church believes in baptism (but that it is not what saves), we take communion every week but because we use instruments and there is a "praise team", and maybe twice a year our preachers wife teaches a lesson that we are not going to be saved and that they are trying to "win us back" because we have "fallen away" from the one true church. I have repeatedly asked for the scriptural proof that proves we are not saved by our "works" of worship. I am in a heavy debate with one of my family members but from reading your other posts can see you are a man of grace and so curious as to your opinion since all of the COC's we have attended over the years have felt the same as what I am describing. How do I combat this form of bullying? Oh and they will admit there are a lot of COC's in error too just not theirs. And keep in mind their reasons for unacceptable worship are matters of opinion. We have no exact form of worship (do we sing 4 songs or 6) and why is church only an hour, why not preach till midnight like Paul did. They admit we take certain liberties on stuff cause we have to but they admitted their liberties are more acceptable than mine? So instruments are WRONG but them using a tiny cup and a sip of grape juice is ok, even though the bible is clear they had a meal. How do I even answer that kind of foolish and dangerous speech? All I think about are the pharisees. And i recognize the differences of opinions and I dont think they are salvation issues. The bible is clear God is not pleased with divisions- how can this be acceptable to him. Keep telling them quit trying to save me but they keep saying they just want to see me in heaven, once again leaving it to my WORKS that will or will not get me there. The funny thing is, I will never return to this type of judgmental people so what they think they are doing is right it is turning more and more people away. I have a non-christian friend of mine who is appalled at what they are doing to me. And that is what the world sees. Do you think my friend or any other non believer wants any part of that? Who would? I have told them to start saving the lost and to stop concentrating on saving the saved. It's so frustrating and I feel like I am at a loss especially since one of these people is my own mother.

Answer
Hello, Erica

It can be frustrating when family tries to "save you," can't it?

As part of my day job, I sometimes offer this observation: "If I know someone is a jerk, then perhaps I could just adjust to their expected behavior." I'm not saying your family are jerks, that's just the observation I offer from time to time.

If your family is driving you up the wall, quit fighting them. Expect them to do "their thing," and simply be prepared for it. Come up with something like, "Yes, I know you're concerned about me and I appreciate that. However, we are going to have to agree to disagree about XYZ." And then move the conversation on to how great it is that aunt Mildred has been able to get out of the house these past few days.

Now, not every Church of Christ teaches what your family apparently believes. There is in fact a broad spectrum of beliefs and teachings on a variety of topics including instrumental music, what the name of the church should be, and even whether or not Catholics are "saved."

Unless you just want to win an argument (admittedly, that can be fun from time to time), don't engage the discussion. Simply divert it. Eventually, they will become tired of the game and won't mention it as much.

As you're doing this diverting, don't forget to send them cards on their birthdays and anniversaries. Find reasons to do nice things for them from time to time - just because. Over time, they will come to see that you are not crazy and are actually living the life of God.

A last observation: your family's behavior is common not just in Churches of Christ, but in Baptist, Catholic, and Orthodox families - and a host of others. So, to that extent, they're "normal." It's OK to treat them like they are.

Does that help any at all?

Blessings

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Hoyt Roberson

Expertise

I can answer just about any doctrinal, relational, or Scriptural question from a "traditional" church of Christ perspective, and from perspectives of somewhat more progressive congregations. If you want an answer from a particular perspective, let me know that up front, and I'll respond in that vein. If you want to peg me on the liberal-conservative spectrum, I would suggest a bit left of center. Depending on the question though, I might be far left, or perhaps rather toward the right.

Experience

I have fifty years as a member of Churches of Christ. Over those five decades, I have taught teen classes, adult classes, served as a deacon and congregational administrator, Lay Leader at two military congregations, and finally as a shepherd of a 500 member congregation. Most of the congregations I have been a member of have been "mainline" congregations, but I am quite familiar with more conservative and more liberal congregations and views as well. I read and subscribe to various books and periodicals for churches of Christ, and have discussed a variety of topics with representatives of our various groups both in person, and via mail. One of my Masters degrees is from Pepperdine, so let that guide your understanding of my formal training.

Organizations
Christian Association for Psychological Studies, American Association of Christian Counselors, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

Publications
www.robersonblog.blogspot.com

Education/Credentials
I hold a Masters of Ministry degree from Pepperdine University, as well as a Masters of Counseling degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Phoenix.

Awards and Honors
The greatest temporal honor I have had is to be an elder for ten years. The next greatest temporal honor is having been asked to preach for our current congregation.

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