Jesus Christ Built a Church
In Matthew 16:18, we read that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to the earth to build His church. On the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, we see the birth of this church as about three thousand people were baptized in response to the gospel call to follow Jesus Christ (Acts 2:37-42). This number continued to grow, with the Lord “adding daily to the church those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). The book of Acts follows this church and its growth, which spread from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria, and to all ends of the world. The glorious church of our Lord Jesus Christ has been alive and well on the earth ever since, preaching and teaching the Truth of our Lord, setting men and women free (John 8:32).
The church of Christ is motivated by the spirit of restoration - that is, wanting to restore our individual relationships with God through His son Jesus and wanting to restore the Truth of the New Testament church in our modern world. Even during the 1st century, the apostles warned the church about false teachers and false teachings (for example, see Acts 20:28, Galatians 1:6-9, 1 Timothy 4:1-4, 2 Peter 2, Jude). These teachings, over time and space, have crept into the precious truths that Jesus Christ brought to the world. This isn’t a surprise, however, seeing as Paul warned us of this in 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 when he wrote “No wonder! For Satan himself transforms into an angel of light.” Over time, these small changes became large and the church that Jesus built looked less and less like it did when it began so many years ago.
The plea to restore the practice of God’s truth is not uncommon if you turn to the Bible. King Josiah restored true worship (2 Kings 22-23). King Hezekiah restored truth too (2 Chronicles 29-30). Throughout time, there have always been faithful men and women who strive to keep the Truth of God pure and restore the practice of the people when it becomes cluttered with the ways of the world.
So What Denomination is the church of Christ?
Looking at history, we believe the church has always existed in its pure form. Around the world, however, there have been times where men and women of God have called for a restoration of Truth, a refocus on God’s word. Recently, in the late 18th century for example, men and women in different denominational churches, independent of one another, and in different countries began to ask questions like these:
“Why not go back to before any denominations existed,
to the simplicity and purity of the first century church?”
“Why do we have all of these creeds and codes of what the church is
when the Bible is sufficient enough by itself? (2 Timothy 3:16-17)”
“Why don’t we start planting the same seed
(the word of God, Luke 8:11, James 1:21)
that Christians like Peter and Paul planted in the first century,
and just be Christians only?”
These men and women pleaded with their friends and loved ones in all the separation and division that denominationalism created. Their plea was the same as ours today: throw off the creeds and codes of man and return to the Bible and the Bible only! As the various leaders of this restoration movement would say, “No Book but the Bible and No Creed but Christ!”
These men and women did not seek to establish another denomination, but rather a return to the original church that we can read about in the New Testament. Members of the church of Christ are enthusiastic and passionate about this approach. With the Bible as our only guide, we seek to do what the original church did and restore this good old church to our modern world.
For this reason, we are not interested in man-made creeds, but simply in the New Testament pattern, just like the 1st century church. We are not another Christian denomination -- nor as Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish. -- but simply as members of the church which Jesus established and for which he died. The “Bible only” makes “Christians only!” To say we are a denomination would mean we are a division or split from the church that Jesus built.
And that, incidentally, is why we wear His name. The term "church of Christ" is not used as a denominational designation, but rather as a descriptive term indicating that the church belongs to Christ. You could call us the “people of God,” the “Body of Christ,” the “house of God,” or any other terms used in the New Testament to describe the church that Jesus built. The lowercase “c” in “church of Christ” is used to describe ownership of the church to Christ, to avoid any confusion that it is just another denominational name.
We recognize our own personal shortcomings and weaknesses -- and this is all the more reason for wanting to carefully follow the all-sufficient and perfect plan God has for the church.
How We Worship (What to Expect If You Visit)
One of the first things you’ll notice when you come to one of our services is that we as a congregation all sing together, without a choir or any musical accompaniment. We believe that God wishes to hear the sounds of our voices praising him in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16).
We also offer up prayers to God. We believe that God wishes for us to thank Him for all that He has done for us and to ask for things we need, as God wills us to do (Luke 11:9-10, Colossians 3:17, 1 Timothy 2:1-8, James 5:16).
One central element to our worship is the taking of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-28). In doing so, we remember the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. His sacrifice on the cross was necessary for the salvation of all humanity and as we are commanded, we remember the greatest event in history every Sunday (Acts 20:7).
As God has prospered us all, we also give back to Him each Sunday (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). We pass around a collection plate so we can give money that helps support the church and our work in the community. We do not give out of obligation, but because we love God and are thankful for His blessings in our lives (2 Corinthians 8-9). As a visiting guest, you won’t be expected to give unless you want to do so.
We believe that the word of God is living and powerful (Hebrews 4:12) and transforms lives and people (Romans 12:1-2). As the first-century did too (Acts 2:42), we too devote ourselves to the word of God. At every Sunday worship, you can expect a time of reading, teaching, and preaching from the Bible.
How We are Organized/Governed
Looking to the New Testament as our guide, we see that the original church was organized into local, autonomous congregations with a plurality of elders to keep the church on the right path (Acts 14:23, Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9). We do not have a global council or a president, but instead Jesus Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23) and each congregations’ elders do their best to shepherd the flock of believers (1 Peter 5:1-4).
When the church has a need for help in a specific area, the church appoints deacons to help coordinate efforts in that area, in accordance with New Testament example and instruction (see Acts 6:1-5, Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:8-13).
If you come looking for our “priests,” or “saints,” you’ll find that we do not use these terms in the popular understanding of these words. We believe that all Christians are priests and saints, part of a chosen people in Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:1, 1 Peter 2:9).
What We Believe about the Bible
The Bible is the constitution of the church and the instruction manual for godly living. It is a central part to our lives and we turn to it for everything. It was given to us to be studied and followed by a loving and all-powerful God that did not want us to be confused (1 Corinthians 14:33). One thing that is clear from the entirety of the Bible is that there are patterns that God establishes for us to follow. There were patterns for worship and godly living in the Old Testament and there are likewise patterns in the New Testament for us to follow today.
It’s the truth that will set you free! (John 8:32)
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