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Who is Joining Network and Why?

The Network was launched five years ago as a renewal movement for those who prize following the lordship of Jesus through Scripture. With Scripture as our guiding and final authority, we articulated a faith statement to give everyone unity and clarity on the beliefs and direction we are pursuing as a network (see our faith statement here).

We have heard it said that Network does a good job articulating the best of Restoration Movement theology focused on disciple making. We are grateful for that, but we are also happy to see leaders and churches joining us from outside the best of that heritage too.

This collaboration will be on display at our National Gathering in Indianapolis, April 25-26th; we hope you will join us (click here for more).

Independent Christian Churches represent our base and we draw a majority from that background into our Learning Communities, but we are seeing more and more joining from other backgrounds. To give our readers a sense of how God is building our network, we asked 5 key representatives—one from the Christian Church, four from the other biggest sub-tribes/fellowships—who are currently joining with us to share their reasons.

  1. Independent Christian Churches – Jerry Harris is a senior statesman in Christian Churches where he has served for many years as the senior minister/pastor of The Crossing and for the last few years as the publisher of the Christian Standard.
  2. Disciple Making Movements – Shodankeh Johnson leads a Disciple Making Movement in Sierra Leone, Africa, and he represents those who are joining us from diverse roots because they find affinity in the priority we place on Scripture and disciple making. Others from non-Restoration Movement backgrounds who have joined include people within Bible Churches and Baptist Churches.
  3. Churches of Christ (A Cappella) – David Young is an author and scholar and serves as the senior minister of the North Boulevard Church of Christ. He represents those who reject both the sectarian and the progressive impulses within that fellowship in favor of our emphasis on Scripture and disciple making.
  4. Churches of Christ (A Cappella, African American) – Orpheus Heyward is the influential lead minister of Renaissance Church of Christ in Atlanta. He represents those African American Churches who are crossing lines for the sake of unity and disciple making based upon agreement in the essential and important elements of the faith.
  5. International Churches of Christ – Reese Neyland is a well-known former evangelist and leader of Hope Worldwide from among the International Churches of Christ. He represents those from that fellowship who want to cross lines and join us based upon our beliefs, emphasis on grace, and disciple making focus.

Here is what these leaders have to say about RENEW:

Q. What’s happening at RENEW that you’re most excited about?

Shodankeh Johnson: The focus on discipleship and church planting.

David Young: There’s a lot happening at RENEW. RENEW has multiple resources to help the everyday Christian, but its resources for ministers and other leaders are especially rich. RENEW offers leadership coaching, seminars, and workshops on important issues, learning groups, gatherings, podcasts, books, and hundreds of articles on a vast number of matters. If you want rock-solid biblical theology applied to Christian life, the church, and to leadership concerns, RENEW is the place to go.

Jerry Harris: I am particularly excited about the proactive work that RENEW is doing to create pathways to unite our movement. I believe the Independent Christian Churches, the Churches of Christ, the African-American Churches of Christ, and the International Churches of Christ have never been closer to true fellowship as they are right now, and a lot of that work has been encouraged by RENEW.

Orpheus Heyward: What excites me about RENEW is the intentional focus on unity and discipleship. It is refreshing to see a return to biblical core doctrines that unite God’s people, and methodology that encourages imitation of our supreme example, Christ Jesus.

Reese Neyland: First of all, the practical emphasis on disciple-making. I have believed for many years that this was foundational to the ministry model Jesus left for us to follow, but it is surprisingly easy as church leaders to be distracted by the urgent and neglect the important.

Q. As you consider the needs of your church tradition/background, what’s the most important way that RENEW is helping people?

Jerry Harris: Living in a post-truth culture and with watered-down belief systems in many churches, it’s critically important that biblical imperatives are defined clearly and well-understood. RENEW is helping people by presenting these biblical truths in compelling ways through their books, network, and conferences.

Shodankeh Johnson: The most important ways RENEW helps people are by publishing books and other learning materials, its Learning Community groups, and its discipleship conferences.

David Young: American Christianity is seeing an increasing number of speakers, bloggers, and authors who publish non-biblical material designed to tear down, create cynicism, and to fit into the secular culture. RENEW offers encouraging solid biblical teaching on a wide variety of matters that will help you follow Jesus and will build up your church. The material from RENEW gives people from our churches a rallying point for biblical living that is positive, encouraging, and focused on making disciples.

Orpheus Heyward: The most important way RENEW is helping is by providing resources that allow the church to contemplate its distinctiveness.

Reese Neyland: I think it is the opportunity to learn from people in other tribes of the Restoration Movement who are also focused on making disciples. We all need to go beyond our church fellowship culture to learn from others instead of just assuming we already know the best ways to do it.

Q. What’s one RENEW resource you most enjoy recommending to people?

Jerry Harris: I think Real Life Theology is a great book to recommend, particularly for all the internal hires that churches are doing, without many of those hires having any formal biblical education.

Shodankeh Johnson: The Real Life Theology book. (However, I have found several RENEW resources very helpful.)

David Young: One of the most important resources that RENEW offers is the leadership coaching. Many leaders have the capacity to do great things, but they do not have the training or the inspiration. RENEW can provide both through the Learning Communities, coaching, and discipling. Biblical theology is a must, but it is irrelevant until it is lived out. RENEW provides both solid biblical theology and training for how to live it boldly.

Orpheus Heyward: The resource that I recommend most is the one-volume Real Life Theology that provides a comprehensive set of works that cover the spectrum of healthy doctrine.

Reese Neyland: There are so many resources, but the thing I am most recommending right now are the Learning Communities of senior church leaders who meet for three hours every two months to hear practical lessons on an important aspect of making disciples. Short lessons are followed by an opportunity to have a discussion group where we can get practical help from each other.

If you want to check out the theology book many of these leaders mentioned, the Real Life Theology Collection, click here.

All five of these leaders will be speaking at our 2023 National Gathering in Indianapolis. To learn more about this year’s Gathering, click here.

Get Weekly Emails

Want fresh teachings and disciple making content? Sign up to receive a weekly newsletters highlighting our resources and new content to help equip you in your disciple making journey. We’ll also send you emails with other equipping resources from time to time.

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