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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 

Reflections on the Tulsa Soul Winning Workshop

As you can see in my last post the annual Tulsa Soul winning workshop was an interesting event to me even though I had never attended the workshop before. Some had told me that the workshop had gone off into the "deep end" and left the biblical truths behind. Yet some told me about great lessons that had learned about from the workshop and greatly enjoy attedning the workshop each year. The church I preach (The DeQuincy Church of Christ) for has a great set of elders.Each one of my elders had been before and wanted me to be able to go. Here are my reactions to Tulsa this year.

Overall: This year was by far the most controversial of any that they have had the workshop. (Because this is my first time to ever attend Tulsa I can only reply on the comments of others as far as this statement being true.) The controversy lies in the subject of unity between the Christian churches and the Church of Christ. In general (because of the autonomy of the churches associated with each group it is impossible to say this for all churches under either umbrella.) the main difference between the independent Christian Church and the Christ of Christ is instruments. Having said that I will now give a reaction to each evening service at the workshop.

On Thursday night: The Keynote Speakers were Jeff Walling for the Church of Christ and Chuck Booher from the Independent Christian Churches. Jeff took us on a journey of his experience with Christian churches. Walling is a gifted speaker and he is very good at taking everyone along for the "ride" of his experiences. He talked about how as he was working in youth ministry that he became a popular youth speaker and was asked to do more and more talk at Church of Christ events. He was asked to do a certain youth rally for a Church of Christ in the North. He agreed and did not have any idea that the rally was a group of instrumental churches of Christ. As the day got closer he got some calls from some people asking are you sure you want to speak at this? It concerned him and he wanted to back out of the event after finding out that there would be instruments involved. Because it was so close to the event date he asked that they do some songs before he spoke acapella because it would make things more comfortable for him. They agreed and he did the talk. (More about this talk later.)

Chuck Booher shared a heart wrenching story about a Christian family loosing their son and how they ministered to the drunk driver that had killed him.

On Friday night: I learned this night is viewed as the Main event in Tulsa each year. In fact Ruth and I had to be in the auditorium an hour and a half early just to get decent seats. Tonight Max Lucado (who I have never heard speak since becoming a popular author) and Bob Russell a preacher at the largest Christian Church in North America (19,000 members) spoke on the importance of Unity for Christians.

Max Lucado started with a good message about how we need to work together for the unity of the Gospel in order to prevent people from going to Hell. We must reach out together to save the lost. Then he lost me. He went through and named most of the largest churches in his city of San Antonio and talked about how they all played a part in saving the soul of this hypothetical woman. The problem in my mind is that not all of these churches preach the whole gospel. Max also failed to preach the biblical way to salvation. I was disappointed by this because it was obvious to me that he was purposely vague on this point. I can't say for sure but I don't believe that he thinks baptism is an essential part of salvation any longer. If he does think that he sure didn't preach it when he had a chance to.

Now Bob Russell speaks. He starts out and CLEARLY states the way to salvation is exactly what I beleive that scripture teaches. He says you must believe , confess, repent, and be baptized. After the sermon by Max I am excited by Russell's sermon. He then goes on to list serveral things we can do to reach out more effectively to our communities. I like Bob Russell and while I might not like instruments I can say that the man preached the gospel clearly and unashamed.

On Saturday night: This is the final night of Tulsa. Many have already left but I wanted to be a part of the entire workshop so I am still there.

Alan Dunbar preaches first from the Christian church. He preaches a great sermon. He preaches about he we see people that are lost everyday and do nothing to save them. We must use our lives to save people that do not know Jesus Christ.

Marvin Phillips has had a lot of things on his heart. He obviously has the brothers and sisters of the most conservative churches of Christ that chose not to attend on his heart. The man is one of the best preachers that I have heard speak! I was very impressed with his message.

Because Marvin did an amazing job summing up Tulsa I am going to include most of his comments in this post:
Marvin asked several rhetorical questions to the audience and then answered every single one of them.

1. WAS THE GOSPEL PREACHED? Scripture warns us not to "preach another gospel" (Gal.1:8,9); it also reminds us the gospel is "the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Cor.15:1-3). Those beauiful truths were emphasized and reaffirmed over and over.

2. WAS BIBLE AUTHORITY HONORED? The Bible urges us to "Preach the word" (2 Tim.4:2); and reminds us we will face God's "open books" in the final judgment (Rev.20:12,13). This was heard repeatedly at the workshop. Some will sincerely say, "yes, but we say instrumental music is 'authorized'; they say it is 'unauthorized'! Which is right?" The key is in the word "authorized"! How do we determine what is/is not authorized? Churches of Christ have traditionally used "command, example and inference" to tell. If a thing has neither of these, it must be unauthorized, and unscriptural". Christian churches, equally concerned with Bible authority have used, "Is it commanded? Is it mentioned? Is it forbidden?" But it is VERY important to note that both "processes" are "human"! Therefore a matter of opinion. We will stand by what the Bible specifically teaches; we will be tolerant in what is "humanly determined". Bible authority was emphasized again and again.

3. WAS THE BIBLE ANSWER GIVEN TO "WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?" It is true many don't teach "the Bible plan of salvation". Acts 2:38 is powerfully used by "both streams"; the conversions in the Book of Acts are strictly adhered to by ICC and CofC alike.

4. WAS THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH HELPED? Well, "It's all about souls!" (my topic for Thursday afternoon). The Great Commission ( Mt.28:19,20; Mk.16:15,16, Lk.24:47 and John 20:21) is the marching orders of the Church. Jesus prayed for unity "so that the world may believe" (John 17:20,21).

5. WILL THE CHURCH BE CHANGED? Aye, here's the rub. Many are afraid that the church they've always known and loved will disappear. So there are two answers!
(1) NO! We are together on vowing that the church will continue to be what Jesus always wanted and the Bible always taught!
(2) YES! We believe the church WILL change! We will change in that we will STOP fussing, arguing and dividing! "If you keep on biting and devouring one another, take heed that you are not destroyed by one another!" (Gal.5:15)

6. WAS JESUS PLEASED? That's the most important question, AND the easiest to answer.
Of course Jesus was pleased! His closing prayer was for unity of the Believers (John 17:20,21). Scripture further implores us to "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph.4:3). We made fervent efforts to get "the people of God" to unite on the essentials of scripture and march hand in hand for the saving of our lost world!

Overall this was a great event and I was very pleased that I got to go. I didn't agree with everything that was preached at this event but I got alot out of 95% of the Tulsa soul winning workshop. I do think that Unity is very important and I know that my generation of the church will have to do a lot of figure out what unity needs to look like and what things we cannot compromise on. I do believe that I will go back next year to Tulsa. I want to look at things for myself. To challenge them or accept them with my own eyes and ears. I feel blessed to have been a part of this event and I look forward to doing so in the future.

You know the funny thing for all those who "boycotted" the workshops is "how in the world can you know what you are against if you didn't experience it?" People who didn't go, forfeit their right to complain about it as far as I am concerned. It seems like the ultra conservative model for dealing with difference of belief is now to retreat and criticize from afar rather than engage and confront face to face. This is a very cowardly approach and I am glad that you come into the workshops neither ready to just accept everything nor completely closed minded. You're a good man Mike!

Great overview of the workshop. I think you are right on. I was a little uneasy with Max's talk but overall I think this was a great workshop.

FYI - if you'd like to know more about Lucado's position on baptism, he and the elders and Oak Hills have posted a document on the subject on the 'Vision' page of their church website. Here's a direct link to the document:


Just hoping to further the conversation. Regards,

Thanks Brian! Great link and that is an article that I can show people. I love Max's heart but I did not know how to take his message. I think this article helps me better understand where he might be coming from!

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About me

  • I'm Michael Potthoff
  • From Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States
  • My name is Michael Potthoff and I am 27 years old. I was raised in League City, Texas (close to Houston) I have a beautiful, godly wife name Ruth who makes me a better man! I have been in ministry close to 5 years now and Jesus Christ is my passion. Preaching His good news is something that I truly love! I am blessed to be able to do something that I truly love.
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