Joining the Chorus (May 2012)

By Matt Dabbs

By Greg England

For the record, I am (was?) a generational member of our tribe. Don’t know much about my paternal side of the family and their roots in churches of Christ other than a lot of them, as I recall, were Baptists. On my mother’s side, my grandfather was beloved as a Bible teacher and was instrumental in planting one of the healthier churches in Lauderdale County, Alabama. My grandmother was a “convert” from the Presbyterian church to churches of Christ but was quite the free-thinking student of the Bible, awakening every morning around 4am to study her Bible until about 6:20 when she would start breakfast. She was “church of Christ,” but not all of it. And she instilled in me at a very early age of my life that I would some day be a preacher. That stunned our family on many levels for many years, but she proved to be somewhat of a prophet as I turned out to be somewhat of a preacher.

Growing up, though, we never bought in to the arguments supporting many of the issues. For example, instrumental music in worship was not a sin in our way of thinking. Just a choice. We could worship with the “anti” side of our tribe just as easily as the “other” side (whatever that was in any given locality). I caused some concern on all sides of the family when I adopted a mentality of allegiance to Jesus far more than allegiance to churches of Christ. As silly as it sounds to read that last sentence, it smacked of liberalism back then.

That said, I miss the fellowship of churches of Christ. I miss being able to go almost anywhere and know I have an extended family in that area. I do not experience that degree of fellowship in the church with which we are now affiliated. As far as why I left … that’s simple. The local church of Christ would have been a huge step backward for us after 14 years of worship and work with the Home Church (not its real name but what I will call it) — a very non-traditional, grace-oriented, permission-granting church. Too, the only time we visited that local church, the welcoming team ignored us! And we were the only people in the foyer at the time. It wasn’t like we were simply overlooked in a crowd coming in the doors.

One thing, however, that bothered me for a long time before we left (Home Church) was to see our young people leaving for other fellowships, including my own children! Our style of worship simply had no appeal to them though they were very serious about their walk with and service to God. When I would address that with our elders, it was dismissed. When I would bring up some things we could change in an attempt to keep our young people from walking away, the prevailing attitude in churches of Christ of which I had grown up and served was maintaining status quo than keeping our children in our fellowship.

For a while we at least stayed within the Restoration Movement churches, worshiping for a year with the local Christian Church. It was almost like being at home, but only almost. Never quite had the feel of what I’d grown up in and preached in for 30 years. As it turned out, the preacher there was too young for the responsibilities placed on him and he managed to pretty much destroy that church just after we decided to leave.

So we looked around and finally settled in with Chorus Church … attracted by the teaching ministry of Dave Reynolds. Eventually we came to know and love many of the people but Dave was the main reason I kept going back week after week. Though I served for a short time as one of the elders at Chorus and have been involved in the praise band ministry, and am asked on a rather regular basis to preach, it is still Dave’s teaching that draws me to and keeps me at Chorus. And I’ve just come to love and deeply respect Dave and his wife, Elena, as well as having made wonderful relationships with new friends.

Too, Chorus is a healthy and growing church, reaching people in and near our home. Not a perfect church, but it’s the only growing church I’ve been a part of since leaving North Alabama in 1985 to move to Florida … and it feels good to be a part of a growing church and to be apart from the issues that have strangulated my tribe for too many years. We decided we’d rather be a part of a growing church nearby than driving several miles to be a part of an existing church that was … well, existing.

I’ll forever be grateful for my tribe. Though there were some very rough years in Florida that almost turned me away from both churches of Christ and preaching, I’ve seen God’s hand in my life and ministry … in spite of me! And we continue to see His hand in our ministry through England Family Mortuary.

Leaving Home Church was a very positive experience. We could have stayed. We could have retired there. The elders and (I think) a significant part of the members wanted us to stay. We’ve been welcomed back with open arms and loving hearts many times. Neither Jan nor I would have ever dreamed we would be doing what we’re doing and living where we’re living, but for now God is using us in our work. In our church family. And in our home. In the past year we have been able to open our home (two extra bedrooms) to others so God continues to shower blessings on and around us.

As I see it, it’s not really a matter of staying or leaving. I’m just trying to stay faithful to His calling.

Blessings!

categoria commentoNo Comments dataDecember 9th, 2013
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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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