FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The below are a rephrasing or summary of common questions that have been asked:
Congregations from the Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ , Churches of Christ , International Churches of Christ (ICOC) , and Disciples of Christ are major branches that find their roots in the “Stone Campbell Restoration Movement ” (SCM) – also called the American Restoration Movement .
Barton Stone and Alexander Campbell were influential leaders who desired to unite Christians from all the sects in union and in truth. Their intent was not to form a new sect or denomination. They wanted to be Christians only and did not view themselves as the only Christians. They believed in congregation governance and the Bible as the sole authority regarding faith and practice. They saw themselves as reformers of the Christian faith. It was not until later that the Movement became known as the “American Restoration Movement.”
Generally, most divisions within the Movement have resulted from disputes over methodology and not theology. In addition, many have suggested that differing views on silence within the Bible have been a core reason for division. One party holds that silence about a particular practice is a reason to restrict that practice, and others see the silence as permission as long as it does not violate a direct command. Much more could be said about why this unity movement has struggled with division – this will need to be addressed elsewhere.
The first major division officially occurred in 1906. The second major division occurred in 1968 between what became known as the Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (Christian Church) and the Disciples of Christ (also known as the Christian Church). The International Churches of Christ (ICOC) arose out of the Churches of Christ beginning with a 1970s movement focused on discipleship and evangelism. Each of these divisions developed over many years, if not decades. Recently there has been an increased appetite for greater unity among the members of this movement. The realization of this dream is our hope and prayer. For more information see the CGU media page (SCM History) where you can find the following video http://blueridgechristiancolumbia.org/videos/RM.Timeline.(1).mp4 among other materials. Additional information can be found at h ttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restoration_Movement or http://www.therestorationmovement.com/ .
Common Grounds Unity chapter meetings usually meet quarterly, however, due to Covid-19 all meetings are currently meeting on Zoom. You can find scheduled meetings by going to our location and calendar page www.commongroundsunity.org/calendar . During this time some locations are combining and we may also offer global meeting - you are welcome to attend any of the CGU meetings.
There are various ways to participate in CGU if there is not a meeting in your area: 1. You can start a new meeting in your area ( see www.commongroundsunity.org/start-chapter ); 2. Join the Facebook Group (private discussion page); 3. Like our Facebook page (public); an d, 4. Sign up for our weekly email . If there not is a meeting in your area please join us on the above platforms.
We have found it generally takes a few hours per week of focused time to start meeting. Once a meeting is established it generally takes a few hours per month to maintain and advance the development of a meeting.
We have connected with many who are interested in participating in a Common Grounds Unity meeting. Since each meeting is independently governed it takes at least one leader willing to devote the time and effort into group development. Therefore we first seek to find local leadership before launching an meeting. However, we do have emerging meeting for the purpose of gathering local contact information and introducing unity-minded Christians.
Please find current groups at our FIND US page and if you are interested in starting a meeting please go to our START CHAPTER page or email Russ Kirkpatrick at firstname.lastname@example.org . Additionally, please consider joining the Facebook Group and post your desire to connect in your area. I you are interested in facilitating an emerging meeting we can add your contact information to our map as a point of contact. See the map and meeting's calendar of event on the Common Grounds Unity website at www.commongroundsunity.org/calendar .
More Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Does Common Grounds Unity have an official position on which groups (or individuals) within the Stone Campbell Restoration Movement we should invite or partner with? In other words, which groups (or individuals) are welcome and which are not?
This is an important question. We would stop short of saying that Common Grounds Unity has an "official position" since we are comprised of independent chapters and a membership of individuals with a heart for "the unity of the Spirit." That said, we have posted principles that we believe are consistent with our mission statement on this website (see about page). One of which is our focus: "We are primarily focused on those with whom we have the most in common. However, we do not wish to exclude anyone willing to hold and contribute to our common beliefs and purpose."
However, unity is fragile, and there are individuals (groups and congregations) within each of the branches of the Stone Campbell/Restoration Movement who are unfriendly to the principles which we have set forth. It is not our desire to make a judgment on whether or not those who hold extreme positions are accepted by God - this belongs to God. We are only stating that it is more difficult to find unity of the Spirit with those who hold extreme positions.
That said, we believe there are individuals in each of the branches who share our core Common Grounds Unity principles and beliefs - but we also believe we should exercise caution when it comes to those groups or individuals who have a tendency "not to play well with others," or who hold other doctrinal position that would stress the unity that we are seeking to encourage.
Lastly, we would encourage anyone to explore the following on the Media page (Sermons) on this website. See "Chairs of the Restoration Movement" by Rick Atchley, and "Together in God's Grace" by Jeff Walling.
Question:What kind of posts are acceptable and unacceptable on the Common Grounds Facebook Group?
We appreciate posts, links, memes, and other content consistent with the Common Grounds Unity mission statement. Please keep content relevant to the Christian faith and that offers biblical, theological, and practical wisdom or understanding that leads toward greater unity in Christ. Feel free to post practical ideas, updates, good news, events, or other happenings that are relevant to advancing the mission statement. We welcome the promotion of special congregational services and/or event that are relevant to the advancement of unity within the SCM, but discourage the posting of regular congregational serves - this could be considered a form of proselytizing and if everyone did this their would be no room for discussion.
We wish to use this site toward unity and mutual edification of the Stone Campbell Restoration Movement. Please be positive and encouraging. Please note that inappropriate content will be removed. Examples may include proselytizing, sectarian agendas, profanity, vulgarity, hostility, discrimination, derogatory comments, offensive language, or contentious comments towards individuals and/or other churches and organizations. Lastly, we understand the value of promoting political discussion, debates, and ideologies, however, this is not the platform for this. We do, however, see the importance of cultural discussions that are non-partisan and which lead to Shalom (peace and wellbeing) - promoting the good news as Jesus proclaimed (Matt 9:35-36; Luke 4:16-21).
Please note that those who continually disregard the guidelines may be restricted from posting for 30-days and/or be removed from the group. We thank you for your participation and for help in maintaining the integrity of this group. God bless.
Question: What is the suggested agenda for a Common Grounds Unity Meeting?
We have provided a “Sample CG Meeting Agenda” by clicking the link or by going to the Start Chapter page (Resources – at the bottom of the page). In general, we suggest a 90-minute meeting that starts and ends on-time. Meetings are typically in a church building or restaurants (typically during the week for breakfast or lunch. We find that restaurants with counter service work best – it is hard to have a meeting when waiters are interrupting or people are waiting for food. Since many of the attendees are ministry staff or elders weekdays tend to be best - usually Wednesday – Friday.
The speaker is typically someone from the local group, we have found the discussion to be an important part of the experience. Therefore, the message should not go long – 15 min. max. – and it should set up the discussion. We have found that prayer, fellowship, a shared meal, and discussion are valuable components that make meetings meaningful and promote unity. We believe in sound doctrine and methodology, however, when we focus on doctrine or methodology before we engage in prayer, fellowship, a shared meal, and/or discussion we are far more likely to compromise unity. It is important to leave time for fellowship and the end of the meeting.
Question: Where can I find the Common Grounds Unity Statement of Belief regarding theology or practice (methodology)?
Common Grounds Unity values the independence and authority of local congregations to govern in matters of theology and practice (method). We also believe that each Common Grounds Unity chapter should be locally governed. Common Grounds Unity values sound doctrine and practice. And yet, we have purposely avoided creating a statement of belief pertaining to these so as not to usurp authority belonging to the local congregation in matters of doctrine and practice. We do, however, hold to certain common principles which are clearly stated on this website - we expect each chapter to uphold and to promote these principles.