<font color=blue>A struggle is underway for the heart and soul of Churches of Christ. A small band of well-trained and highly motivated agents of change are challenging preachers and elders of churches of Christ for the leadership of their flocks. While the champions of change likely cannot claim over three hundred congregations under their banner at this time, they do control some of our most prestigious churches and schools. Thus they are in position to shape the thinking of a multitude of young people, including young preachers, who will soon be taking their new ideas into more congregations. In too many cases, leaders of local congregations are failing to meet the challenge of these false teachers. </font>
The following ideas on leadership are especially relevant to today's situation.
I. <font color=red>"Two things, well considered, would prevent many quarrels; first to have it well ascertained whether we are not disputing about terms rather than things, and, second, to examine whether that on which we differ is worth contending about"</font> (Cotton). There is considerable difference in holding and teaching a doctrine that is false and simply using non-traditional vocabulary. In every generation the young devise new ways to express their thoughts. Paul warns against striving over words (II Tim. 2:14) But he also condemned those whose teaching and conduct were contrary to sound doctrine (I Tim. 1:10). There are scores of insignificant things in the Bible text about which we may disagree with no damage done. But when it comes to the fundamentals of Christianity regarding our faith worship and practice we must be united.
In waging successful warfare, a wise general will be very careful in choosing the battles to which commits his troops. A hundred hills maybe of no strategic value but one may be of absolute importance. For that one piece of ground he will fight. So in our fight of faith. The big issue is not new hymns, nor is it the use of projectors. It is not, how long we extend the communion service or how short the sermon is. The issues worthy of contention are those involving principles essential to being acceptable to God. Among those issues we must address are things that have to do with salvation. Is man saved by grace through faith, before and without obedience in baptism? The Scripture plainly says that sins are washed away when we are baptized (Acts 22:16). The Lord adds to his church those who have been baptized (Acts 2:38, 47; I Cor. 12:13). The way in which we approach God in worship is an essential matter. Worship based on human traditions is vain, useless and unacceptable (Matt. 15:6, 9). <font color=blue>Thus when men tamper with our singing, our communion and the nature of our public worship (by turning it into a charismatic style) then we must take a stand. </font> A major short-coming of our response thus far has been the many skirmishes fought on matters that are non-essential.
II. <font color=red>"Fortunate is the person who has developed the self-control to steer a straight course towards his objective in life, without being swayed from his purpose by either commendation or condemnation"</font> (Napoleon Hill). Every preacher and elder must be committed to leading his people in the straitened and narrow way of Christ. When he teaches the truth of the gospel without fear or favor; when he reproves and rebukes error (II Tim. 4: 2); when he contends earnestly for the faith (Jude 3), there will be some who flay him. If he speaks smooth words that sinners love to hear there will be those who flatter him (Is. 30:10). To successfully resist the pressure to compromise the faith and drift with the tides of change; a man must be fully persuaded in his own mind and resolved long before the challenge appears. Only then well he be able to stay the course even if he must travel alone.
III. <font color=red>"The ability to keep a cool head in an emergency, maintain poise in the midst of excitement, and to refuse to be stampeded are true marks of leadership"</font> (R. Shannon). In the months and years ahead a thousand battles will be fought as faithful Christians find their congregations being infiltrated by those who wish to lead them away from the path laid out by Jesus. It will not be enough just to know God's will on the points of contention. Only leaders with "cool heads" and spiritual wisdom will be able to excise the problem without disrupting and harming the body. Rash decisions and actions can be as destructive as that caused by the promoters of change. If any man "lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally" (Jas. 1:5). Leaders of even temperament will not despair, nor will they overreact. They will not resort to unethical methods. Nor will they sacrifice truth for tranquility. They will not be stampeded into unhealthy change nor stubbornly refuse to accept that which is right and beneficial for the congregation. May God grant such wisdom to all who lead his people.
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now