A lot of friends and family have asked, “What church are you going to in Temple?” Until now, there has not been an answer to that question. I can tell you now that our community in Temple will be called, “The Vine: a church of Christ Fellowship.”
This is an excerpt from a piece I wrote for the Christians gathering in Temple to explain why I and other leaders became invigorated by the name, The Vine.
“First, this name honors who we’ve been. We have a historical and familial connection with churches of Christ. Many of us were raised in churches of Christ and many of our worship practices are connected to that historical denomination. We grew up going to churches of Christ camps and youth rallies. Some of us went to colleges associated with churches of Christ or sent our children and grandchildren to them. Our closest friends and mentors have belonged to this group, as have many of our mothers, fathers, and grandparents.
What’s more, as transient as our society is, we wanted to give others who share those same connections, a clear option that connects our congregation with that tradition. If people are looking for a church connected to churches of Christ we wanted them to know there are some kindred spirits serving and worshipping here.
Second, this name reflects who we are. While we have retained the church of Christ name, it’s a small “c”. We are confident that this will communicate that we are not a traditional church of Christ. We are open to the gifts of women, we employ instruments in worship and have resisted the sectarian nature of some of our more conservative brothers and sisters in Christ.
The simple truth is that below the Mason-Dixon line, the Church of Christ brand is known in many quarters by characteristics we choose not to be known for. This is not an indictment of other churches, but reflects our desire to be known primarily for the work of God in the world rather than any denominational brand. This name signals to our brothers and sisters who may – for whatever reason – want a more traditional experience who we are and who we are not.
Most importantly, this name clarifies where we are going. In John 15, Jesus calls Himself “The Vine.” Jesus means to enlighten us to the true source of life: Himself. And it is Jesus whom we seek and seek to bring others to. This name, without ambiguity, expresses who we believe to be our ultimate authority. We, in turn, are the branches. Regardless of how large or small we are, we secure our life and growth from the vine. Vines and branches thrive and flourish. They have life. Vines and branches extend and bring new life as they grow. We believe our fellowship is positioned to bring life to our community and around the world. This means our personal and spiritual growth has no limit, no ceiling, as long as we stay connected to the vine.
Finally, “The Vine” is both a name and a mission. We want everyone in Temple, Killeen, Belton, and the surrounding area to experience life through The Vine. We want everyone to be rooted in God, growing in Christ and reaching the world.”
Please join me in prayer as we seek to do the work of God in central Texas. Thank you, friends.
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