This is often a confusing question due to all the
cultural and historical baggage that comes with the concept of the church. The
New Testament was originally written in Greek which was the language spoken
internationally. The English word "church" is the English translation
for the original Greek word in the Bible - "ekklesia".
"Ekklesia" simply means "assembly". The "church"
of Christ, is therefore, the "assembly" belonging to Christ. The
"ekklesia" or "church" has nothing to do with a building
and everything to do with the people. The Church of Christ,
therefore, is the people of Christ which are those who have given up their
lives to Jesus as Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). With or without a building, the
churches of Christ have always existed from the time Jesus founded it some 2000
Our Non-Denominational Nature
The churches of Christ are not a denomination.
There is no home office, no headquarters, and no written creed. The churches of
Christ are a fellowship of congregations where each congregation is autonomous.
There is no "official list" of congregations in the fellowship.
Neither is there a governing board or "membership requirements" for a
congregation to be in fellowship other than what is in the Bible. In other
words, if a church is practicing and teaching the Bible in all its purity, and
not a creed or any such thing, then the Bible demands fellowship, which we
extend. The "Church
of Christ", then, is
not a denominational designation, but a description and identifier of who we
Many do not understand that the Lord's church
can, should, and must be a church without being a denomination. A denomination
is a division or divided part. The only divisions spoken of in scripture are
geographical ones which include the churches in Galatia,
the churches in Macedonia,
the church in Rome, the church in Antioch, etc. Open
fellowship existed among these congregations. Preachers such as Apollos, Paul,
Timothy, and others, traveled among these churches and worked with them.
Hospitality was openly extended to members of all these churches when they
traveled. They worked together to preach the Gospel. In the Bible we find
simply, "the church-of-Christ". It is necessary to note that this
open fellowship was based on doctrinal purity, or pure teaching and practice of
the truth. (Galatians 1:6-9; I John 4:1)
Jesus prayed that his followers would be one just
as he and the Father were one (John 17:11). Being divided up into denominations
with the earthly headquarters, written creeds and earthly founders goes against
the wishes of Jesus. Ephesians 4:4ff says there is one body (the church), and
one faith. There are not many but one. Our goal is to be as the first century
church. Being simply "the church", we have no founder but Jesus, and
no headquarters but Heaven. The "Church of Christ"
was founded 2000 years ago. That's what we want to be and no more. We step out
of denominational ideals, and into simple New Testament Christianity as is
prescribed in the Bible.
The name "church of Christ"
is not a title (though it is usually used consistently for the benefit of those
traveling to identify and differentiate us from a denomination), but rather a
description. We use this name because it is found within the scriptures (Romans
16:16), and it gives glory to our founder, Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus did
say, "I will build MY church" (Matthew 16:18); and the Bible tells us
that Jesus established the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28). Why name His
church after a man (Lutheran, Wesley, and Mennonite), or after a form of
government (Presbyterian, Episcopal), or even a particular doctrine (Baptist,
Methodist), when the Bible simply calls it the churches of Christ, or church of God, or household of God? All of the
names used in scripture give glory to God. Instead of focusing on a title, we
strive to live up to the "descriptions" of the church in the Bible.
Membership of the
This is another topic that has been confusing to
some. Having no creed but the Bible alone, we look to the Bible to determine
our terms of membership. As a result, we do not "vote" a person into
the congregation. Neither do we have a probationary period, a special class, or
any other such thing to become a member. These things are simply not mentioned
or even implied in scripture.
Terms of membership into the Lord's church are
the same as those for Salvation as seen below. Ephesians 1:1-14 tells us that
God has blessed those "In Him" or "In Christ" with every
spiritual blessing, with redemption and forgiveness of sins, and with an
inheritance of Heaven. So then, when one is saved, he/she becomes part of God's
household. This example is clearly seen in Acts 2:37-41. The people heard the
message, repented (turned their life over to Christ), were Baptized, and were
added to the church (verse 41).
What are the conditions of salvation defined by
First we read we are to Hear the word of
God, Romans 10:17- "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the
word of God."
Second, we all need to Believe (faith) in
Jesus Christ and that his word is true. Hebrews 11:6-" But without
faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to god must believe
that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Third, we are to Repent, Acts 2:38- Then
Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of
Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the
Fourth, we are to Confess, that Jesus
Christ is the Son of God Matthew 10:32-33-"whosoever therefore shall
confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in
heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my
Father which is in heaven." Another passage is Acts 8:36-37. In this
passage we can read that we are to confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God
Fifth, we are to be Baptized, Romans
6:3-5- "Knew ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus
Christ were, baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by
baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the
glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we
have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in
the likeness of his resurrection:" In John 3:5 -"Jesus
answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of
the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." In both these
verses we see that we are to be baptized and this is to be done by being buried
(immersed) in water.
When one follows the Plan of Salvation as listed
above by having faith (belief) in Christ, and that faith leads him/her to
repent and turn his/her life over to Christ to make Jesus his/her Lord and
Savior, which leads him/her to confess that faith and be baptized in the death
burial and resurrection of Jesus for remission of our sins - that person
becomes a child of God and a part of the body of Christ, the church. (Acts
2:41-47). The church is simply the "assembly" of those who are saved.
We do not and will not impose any man made rules on any Christian to be a
member of the Lord's church.