I am a preacher in a Church of Christ.
As such, I am a small player in the middle of a very special story. It is a story that began long, long before I arrived on this planet and will continue long after I am gone. While I am not talking about the blockbuster-mega-hit, the "story of God" unfolding, I am talking about a minor scene in that story that is often called the Restoration Movement.
After Christ's death, burial, resurrection and ascension, his followers went about spreading the good news of his life, mission, heart, and work all over the known world, which caused a variety of reactions within societies, nations, religions, and individuals. The greatest reaction was the wholesale belief in this Jesus Christ, and those that did so decided to follow him (that is, his teachings, his heart, his mission). When they did, their lives would obviously change and they would speak of all kinds of internal revolution...peace, passion, joy (even in the midst of suffering), compassion, self-responsibility, freedom, forgiveness (received and given), gratitude, and more. The word that was thrown around to describe it was often the Greek word "Zoë", that is "life".
These people who followed Christ considered themselves related ("the church" being one of their titles), not by family blood, but by the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed when he was martyred because his steadfast love for people flew in the face of the human governments, religious traditions and lifeless legalisms that were being followed at the time. The love and freedom of Jesus, if followed by humanity, would take the power away from men leading those groups, and they were very used to the perks of power and the emotional securities that came from attaching their eternal salvation to their rule following.
Anyway, the cliff notes are: the church repeated history by getting increasingly organized and institutionalized, and then packed with human leaders who (again?!) got used to the perks of power and emotional securities that came from attaching their eternal salvation to this new "Christian" rule following. Ever since, there has been a struggle among Jesus followers to figure out the "true way" of Christ. The universal (catholic means universal) church has always had it's true-hearted lovers of God and it's control-freaks with in, with representatives of every degree in between. But "The Great Reformation" is the term used to describe the public and dramatic battles between and among people who were, and I use this term loosely, "in the church". There was already a philosophical split between the East and West among the ancient Christians (Catholic in the West and Orthodox in the East), but within the Western Catholic church, a more stark and even more violent split occurred between the Catholic church and those protesting the Catholic church (called "protestants"). I will scoot quickly on to this very day by merely saying that the large group of protestors has divided and divided in the (mostly) honest pursuit of Christ's "true way" and there are now an astronomical number of "Protestant" movements and groups of churches.
The Restoration Movement was and is one of those groups. It's movements champions had little desire to be seen as the movement's "leaders" really (I'm being gracious here, they were, after all, men). Their truest heart was sincerely that Christ be its leader. It seemed to them that every division of Protestants had their individual statements of belief (or "creeds"), and desiring to unify all believers, they proposed that we use the Bible alone as our "creed". A beautiful and romantic idea that would hopefully lead to unity, agreement, and the fellowship of all believers.
While they (and I can start saying "we" now) never wrote down an individual creed, and we all had deep agreement to use the Bible as our source for discovering God's truth, we still found ourselves dividing over how to INTERPRET the Bible. Who knew that so many men, all seeing eye to eye on using the Bible, could have so many differing opinions and interpretations based on how they didn't see eye to eye on how to approach the Bible and plumb it's riches? This has resulted, tragically, in countless divisions among those of us who are in The Restoration Movement. It's over-simplifying, but generally speaking, there are three groups (Disciples of Christ, Christian Churches, & Churches of Christ) in the Restoration Movement, at least in America, and...
I am preacher in a Church of Christ.
I said all of that because I just read the very humble but observant writing of a man named Joe Beam entitled "What is Happening to Churches of Christ." I found myself so "explained" in his birds-eye-view snapshot that I am compelled to share it with you, my friends, in hopes of 1) being more understood, and 2) helping you explain yourself. Here's the link, if you are interested:
And if you are interested in that, you may be interested in posting your answer to this question (that will make sense to you only if you read Joe's thoughts):
What group (zealots, satisfied, searching, cautious, open, exasperated) are you in?
One final note: For those of you, my friends, who haven't the slightest idea about what Joe and I are speaking of, don't bother learning about our church history...only learn about Christ...his heart, his mission, his priorities, his character...his life. That's what we are trying to do.