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.