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Posts Tagged ‘Church of Christ’

My dad bought me my first camera in 1956. It was a Kodak Brownie—very simple point and shoot. No flash! I took it to a TCU football game to watch Jack Spikes play. Later, I became the school photographer at Fort Worth Christian, so most of the snapshots in the 1962-65 yearbooks, I took.  Those pictures were taken with my dad’s Yashica camera, but all of them were on Kodak films.

Kodak has been as American as apple pie and Chevrolet—but Kodak is almost gone.

I recently read a very interesting article called “A Century On Film: How Kodak Succumbed To the Digital Age” by Ulrich Fichtner in Spiegel Online International.

In his article Fichtner shows how Kodak grew to be synonymous with the film industry over 132 years, how all of the Oscars from 1928 to 2008 were shot on Kodak film. In the 1970s, Kodak was making 90% of all of the U.S.’s film and 85% of the cameras.  In 1975, it was Kodak who developed the world’s first digital camera.

But around 1980, one of their own vice-presidents reported to the company that unless they made fundamental changes within about thirty years, everything that Kodak was doing would become obsolete and Kodak would be in danger of failing as a business.  That report must have sounded like words from another planet since the company was dominating, hugely profitable, and still growing.

Kodak never found its way into the digital age. The company tried out cheap digital cameras, making digital printers, apparently even thought about making wallpaper and sandpaper—since they were primarily a chemical company, but nothing really worked for them.

The author of this article then writes a very telltale sentence: Rochester was gripped by an understandable but still fatal attitude: They had given the world pictures from the surface of the moon, they reasoned, so someone else could give it wallpaper.”

I’m reminded of the Churches of Christ in the 1950s and 60s—the one that so many of our current elders and the most respected of our opinion leaders grew up in.  It was a booming religious group. We passed among ourselves statistics that described us as the fastest growing church in the United States. We were among the first groups into war-torn Europe, one of the last out of Saigon. Our Christian colleges had Olympic athletes, and we even had movie stars like Pat Boone who wouldn’t kiss anyone on screen! Those were glory years!

The last twenty years don’t feel like glory years to me. We feel more like a group trying to re-invent itself, searching for something new that will make us relevant.  We tried to become charismatic for a while, but we apparently are too Lockian for that movement to transform us. We have tried and succeeded in joining the worship wars, with some of our best churches even turning instrumental as the key to the future.  Others of our fellowship are abandoning evangelism in favor of redeeming the poor and destitute of this world—a false dichotomy in my view!  Our attempts to re-invent ourselves seem pretty ineffective.

Are we having a bad Kodak moment?  Kodak has not been able to come up with a radical enough solution, so they have now gone into bankruptcy and survive only as a shadow of their former greatness.

The Church is not Eastman Kodak.  While Kodak founder George Eastman shot himself in the head in 1932, the founder of the Church is still very much alive!  Resurrection is crucial to His story and, therefore, should be to ours as well.

You probably don’t like it that I have jumped from talking about the Church of Christ to talking about Christ’s church—but I did that quite intentionally.

Our historical position—and that of our founder as well—is that there is only One Church!  I believe Churches of Christ gave that theological position up sometime in the 1970s. We decided that we were just another denomination, something much less than what we had believed ourselves to have been.

I know why we gave up our claim of singularity! We had been much too exclusive in our claims, thinking that the sign above the door and the mode of baptism—but especially our worship—made us so right that we were the only members of the church of Christ.  Most of us, however, since then have repented of our proud self-righteousness which was our sin.

In our sack cloth and ashes, we, however, have mistakenly diminished His Church! In spite of our prideful abuse of the truth, the gates of hell still have not prevailed against the Church of God! And they never will!

Rather than re-invent the Church of Christ, perhaps we need to rediscover the Church of Christ—the only Body of Christ, the beautiful Bride of Christ. This is the community of faith that is undefeatable, that does not grow weary—and there is only One Body, One Church because there is only One Lord and One God and Father of us all!

Kodak may disappear, but the Church—the only one to which you and I truly belong—will never die!

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