27 September, 2023

The Restoration Movement: Its Vitality, Quirks, and Needs in the 21st Century

by | 16 August, 2018 | 0 comments

Editor’s Note: Starting today, every Thursday we will post an article about the Restoration Movement from our Christian Standard archives. While some will be more recent stories, many others will be excerpts from older issues, going back to 1866, that are currently not available on the web. It’s “Throwback Thursday” . . . Christian Standard-style!
Today we go back to December 2006 to an article by LeRoy Lawson, which started as a presentation in the Publishing Committee’s 50th annual meeting in October that year. The Publishing Committee provided editorial oversight to Standard Publishing (the longtime owners of Christian Standard) from the time the company was purchased by a publicly held company until about two years ago.
Check out Lawson’s assessment of the Restoration Movement and ask yourself, What has changed and what has stayed the same over the last dozen years?

By LeRoy Lawson

The Publishing Committee’s 50th annual meeting this October included rich dialogue, presentations by members of Standard Publishing’s staff, and reflections by several members of the Committee. We’ve decided to publish one of those, because it offers all our readers valuable food for thought.


NAME—We have a quirky name. What was pinned on us in the 19th century sounds pretty quaint in the 21st. It doesn’t help our cause. In an age attuned to Madison Avenue’s sloganeering, “Restoration Movement” is definitely not the catchiest bit of nomenclature on the airwaves.

I don’t have a replacement to recommend; and if I did, there isn’t anyone with authority to whom I could make my pitch, so I am not proposing that we rename ourselves. But the editor asked for quirks, and this is one, a definitely delimiting one. You can be sure that many of the churches and Christians who have virtually adopted our plea—or are enjoying the successful consequences of our plea—don’t realize their position was long ago articulated by the leaders of something called the Restoration Movement.

Label—Not liberal, not really evangelical, not fundamentalist—As a group we are generally conservative, but not consistently so. In fact, critics could accuse us of not being consistently anything. As Professor Fred Norris has said, “Our distinctive is that we have no distinctive.”

It’s a quirk, but to me an admirable one, because we have room to breathe and freedom to explore and the opportunity to learn to love those who disagree with us but whom we must accept as members of the same large, fractious family.

Attitude—Antipathy to genuine cooperation—We talk the unity game, but we have to confess that competition rules, a testimony to our individual and collective insecurities. We’re our own worst enemy because we constantly compare and compete with each other, often forgetting we’re on the same team.

We’re getting better, though. The recent North American Christian Convention, with its focus on unity between two branches of our movement, was heartening—even though it took us 100 years to take that small, symbolic step. Our historic emphasis on unity has generally been shouted down by our ever-so-human propensity to fragment around personalities, points of doctrine, and petty politics.

Organizational structure—Not hierarchical, yet we have our pecking order—You’ll look in vain to find a denominational structure for our fellowship. We have no headquarters, no duly elected bishops and superintendents, no synods or presbyteries. Yet we have our power brokers. . . .

CLICK HERE to read the complete article from 2006, including an assessment of the movement’s vitality and needs.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Articles

Ministry Help Wanted

Lexington (Ohio) Church of Christ is seeking a senior minister. Northside Christian Church in Ohio is seeking to hire a minister of administration. Also postings from Catlin (Ill.) Church of Christ, Impact Christian Church in Moon Township, Pa., and more.


By taking these symbols of Jesus’ body and blood, we announce we believe there really was a Jesus, and he really did die for us and carried all our sins down to a grave . . .

Documentary Highlights Christian Response to Pandemics

Southeast Christian Church’s “Purpose in Pandemics” is a documentary that follows the response of the church to pandemics throughout history. The “Purpose in Pandemics” website also includes a study guide for small groups and individuals.

Used of God

I soaked up Sam Stone’s wit and wisdom during our lunches together. Afterward, I’d take notes about our conversations. After hearing of his passing, inspired by his wordsmithing, I felt compelled to share just a small part of his story.

Sam E. Stone: ‘He Tried to Speak the Truth in Love’

In memory and appreciation of our former editor, Sam E. Stone, who died early this week, we share this 2011 column from Christian Standard’s archives in which Sam discussed four Scripture verses significant to his life.

Elliott Library ‘Cornerstone’ Laid

Three Bibles of historical significance to Cincinnati Christian University were the first books place on the shelves during relocation of the George Mark Elliott Library.

The Death of Evil

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saw in minority groups’ struggles for social equality in America a parallel with Israel’s bondage in Egypt. King envisioned God’s goodness would deliver the U.S. from the evil of segregation.

Mark Scott’s Greatest Kingdom Impact

Since I first enrolled at Ozark Christian College, Mark Scott has been my kingdom hero, and I’m not the only young preacher Mark has shaped. Over his 35 years at OCC, Mark has inspired generations of students.

‘Have We Plans for 1921?’

“All the Standard asks is the opportunity to serve, and it yearns to render in 1921 the greatest, finest, and best service of its history. . . .”

CCLF Concluding Strong First Year in Greater Cincinnati

In its first full year, the Christian Church Leadership Foundation has accomplished much to ensure Christian education and resources would continue to be available to people in the Greater Cincinnati area.

News Briefs for Dec. 9

Items from Timber Lake Christian Church (Moberly, Mo.), Choateville Christian Church (Frankfort, Ky.), Johnson University, and more.

My Counsel for Young Preachers

If I were counseling an aspiring young preacher fresh out of Bible college or seminary, champing at the bit to lead in the church, I would offer these three bits of advice.

My Memories of Marshall Leggett

By Ben Merold
As I think about Marshall Leggett, who passed away on March 2 at age 90, two personal experiences keep coming to my mind . . .

Powell Quintuplets Graduating from High School

When the Powell quintuplets were born in 2001, all of Kentucky celebrated, including Southeast Christian Church, where the Powells are longtime members. Now the quints are 18 and are all headed to the same university.

Reentry: It May Be Harder Than We Think

When the COVID-19 crisis eases, I anticipate that reentry is going to be harder than some people think. Churches, especially, need to prepare for this.