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Tale of 2 churches
October 20. 2002
What does America need more today than money, merchandise or entertainment?
A spiritual revival.
That's according to www.shoalsrevival.com
, the Web site touting the unified effort of local churches of Christ to spread the good news in a series of meetings. Eye-catching "Light the Fire" yellow signs and billboards dot the landscape, signifying that something big is happening.
This is neat for several reasons, one being that churches of Christ, which don't have a corporate hierarchy, have a reputation for being rather disunited. By joining forces, the churches are presenting a positive image and demonstrating moral leadership at a time when it is sorely needed.
The question is, what kind of church are they trying to revive? In the last six weeks, the TimesDaily has published items involving churches of Christ that show two very different paths members can take.
On Aug. 28, we published a front-page article on Darby Drive Church of Christ's plans for a 45-acre complex in north Florence. The church wants to build structures that total 94,950 square feet, making it one of the largest construction projects in the area.
At least one person doesn't think this is such a good idea. On Sept. 7, East Florence Church of Christ minister Shawn Smith wrote a stinging rebuke of Darby Drive's plans in a paid advertisement.
"I pray they change their name, because Christ doesn't know them," Smith wrote. "No, they are not 'movin' on up,' they are 'movin' on out' from God!"
Contrast that with an Associated Press report on Sept. 28 about former country music singer David Slater, who in 1998 was hired as pulpit minister of West End Church of Christ in Nashville, Tenn.
By most accounts, Slater had it all: a successful ministry, good friends, happy marriage and children. Then he was arrested and charged with stealing other people's credit cards from unlocked cars.
The first person to visit him in jail was Rubel Shelly, minister at nearby Woodmont Hills Church of Christ. Woodmont paid for psychiatric counseling for Slater, and marriage and financial counseling for the family to keep them together.
Meanwhile, the West End church had little choice but to remove Slater from the pulpit. However, it continued paying his salary and health benefits for nine months. The family is still part of the church and now help lead marriage enrichment courses for other couples in trouble.
In case No. 1, a minister who thinks another congregation is sinning handles it by publicly condemning them. Then he claims they aren't even Christians for violating his opinion of how a church should spend its money.
In case No. 2, a minister sees a brother in sin and gives him a hug. Then the church provides emotional and financial help to get him back on his feet, and as a result, the former inmate known as "preacher man" is once again working to bring people to Christ.
As the fire is lit this week, you decide which kind of church you want to see revived in the Shoals.
David Brown is executive editor of the TimesDaily. He can be reached at 740-5720 or [a href=\"mailto:email@example.com.\"]firstname.lastname@example.org