Interview with Leroy Garrett - Round 2

Imagine sitting at home, looking through you email, and noticing that someone sent you some interview questions that you haven't responded to yet. That is probably what Leroy Garrett did yesterday. Except the interview questions were already answered two months ago. He had some very interesting things to say again, so I thought I would share the second interview from the same set of questions. Here is the first.

Changes in the Churches of Christ

Regan - You have spent your life reforming the Churches of Christ. What do you feel are some of the greatest changes you have seen in your lifetime?

Leroy - I have only sought reformation, and with modest results. The greatest change is more freedom and less sectarianism, more outreach to other churches, a broader view of unity and fellowship; greater awareness of mission of Holy Spirit and grace of God; more responsible biblical interpretation.

Regan - What are the changes that still need to take place?

Leroy - See "What I want for Churches of Christ" in an addendum in my autobiography.

Here were the main points in his addendum. You will have to buy his book for the details.

1. Let us recover our heritage as a unity people.
2. Let us resolutely and absolutely renounce our more recent sectarian heritage.
3. Let us, in particular, repudiate our historic position of making instrumental music a test of fellowship and a cause of division.
4. While we are to continue to be Churches of Christ, let us become what Churches of Christ truly ought to be - in the light of Scripture and our own true heritage.
5. Let us become part of the body of Christ at large, cooperating with other Christians in the work of redeeming the world.
6. Let us reject our radical congregationalism and become more responsibly organized for tasks before us.
7. Let us become more responsibly biblical.
8. Let us realize who the enemy is.
9. Let us cease shooting our own wounded.
10. Let us bring women into the church as equals; let us cease being male-dominated.
11. Let there be renewal in our assemblies.
12. Let us be a colony of heaven - Cross-shaped, Grace-oriented, Community-filled.

On Mutual Ministry

Regan - In your book you have the following quote from Alexander Campbell: "To employ men to preach the gospel to a Christian congregation is a satire upon that congregation that employs them." If we are to not pay ministers, who would do the teaching?

Leroy - The members would edify and encourage one another, as in the NT churches -- Rom. 14:15; Eph. 4:16. But we can pay ministers so long as they are a part of what I call "body life" and not the one-man performer at assemblies.

Regan - What would a church look like without a paid minister? In mentioning it to friends, I have heard the reply that it isn't feasible and things wouldn't get done. What do you think?

Leroy - The objection is not to "paid minister or ministers," but to a system that displaces mutual ministry. A church might well have a paid staff (managers, counselors, evangelists in field, etc), but not a system that makes the congregation an audience that assembles to listen to a professional entertainer, and hinders mutual sharing. We should seek to follow biblical norms, not what we think works best. How was it done in those times when the faith spread the most, such as in time of primitive Christianity?

Regan - On a personal aside, Do you know of any good resources to read on this subject?

Leroy - For a start Carl Ketcherside's Royal Priesthood and James Rutz The Open Church. The latter is a devastating attack on one-man system, and he argues persuasively that the open church -- mutual edifcation -- will and does work better. And yet he allows for professional staff, which is to initiate and encourage an open church.

Regan - Do you know of any churches that have made the transistion from a paid minister to the model you propose?

Leroy - Note again what I said aove about "paid minister," which is not the objection. It depends on what that paid minister does. If he is like a coach and initiates what Rutz calls an open church, no objection. Rutz cites examples generally. Among CofC I know several smaller churches that do it quite well, such as Pecan Grove in Greenville, Tx., Calico Rock CofC in
Ark. The Gospel Message (Box 148, Brighton, IL 62012), edited by Tom Woody, serves numerous churches that practice mutual edification.

Regan - House churches don't have the expense of either a building or a minister. All they have is money to further the work of God's Kingdom. What do you think about house churches?

Leroy - Most NT assemblies were probably house churches. Some scholarly work has been done of late on house churches in NT. Of course, I find their revival in our time encouraging. But again I correct your terminology in your questions. House churches do have a minister in that all are ministers. They minister to each other. But we can find ways to do this in regular,
non-house churches. We are (not) shackled to a system.

The Need for Discipleship

Regan - What tough teachings of Scripture is the Church ignoring today?

The addendums in my autibio speak to this, but perhaps I would list first of all teaching about discipleship. We have not fully accepted the radical teaching on what it means to be a follower of Christ. A CofC source on this would be a brilliant study by Lee Camp (Liscomb U.) on Mere
Discipleship. A disturbing book.


Thanks for reading. I have to arrange some more interviews. My life has been so hectic that I haven't done that lately. If you know of anyone great to interview that I could probably get an interview with, please let me know.

Also, I'm leaving Saturday morning to go to Baltimore for a business convention on comic & games retailing. It will be fun, but I don't know if I will be able to post. So you might hear back from me till next Wednesday. This will be my longest non-posting spell if I can't find computer access in Baltimore.