Frequently Asked Questions
What distinguishes the churches of Christ from other churches in the world?
Members of the churches of Christ want to restore the original New Testament church. We go to scripture to see what the church was like in the beginning, and attempt to recover the essence of the original church. The fact that we desire to go back beyond denominationalism to the simplicity and purity of the first-century church distinguishes us from other churches. We hope to plant the same seed (the word of God, Luke 8:11) that was planted by the apostles' teaching (Acts 2:42) in the modern church. We want to be Christians only, as were the first-century Christians.
How many members?
There are churches of Christ in every state in the United States and in 109 other countries. Worldwide, there are approximately 20,000 congregations. Since each congregation is self-ruling (there is no central organization), it is difficult to determine the total membership world wide. However, some have estimated the membership to be 2 1/2 - 3 million.
Are you a denomination?
No, we do not conceive of ourselves being a denomination. Our claim is to be members of the church which Jesus established and for which He died. We are not interested in human creeds or human designations (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, etc.). We only wear the name "Christian." The term "church of Christ" is not used as a denominational designation, rather it is descriptive of the church which belongs to Christ.
Who determines your doctrine?
Since all authority was given to Christ (Matthew 28:18; Hebrews 1:1,2), we believe that Christ has the right to say what the churches' doctrine should be. Since the New Testament sets forth Christ's instructions to His disciples, it alone serves as a basis for teaching and practice. It is our only guide to lead men and women to salvation and Christian conduct. The New Testament is the only reliable guide that leads to unity in religion. Compromise can only bring division (denominationalism). We believe that no person, or group has a right to draw up a set of rules by which everyone must abide. But it is proper to say "Let's unite by following the Bible." We plead for religious unity by following the New Testament. Both additions and subtractions to the Bible is condemned (Galatians 1:6-9; Revelation 22:18, 19).
Who are your leaders?
Each congregation is self-ruling. There are no governing boards by district, region, or on a national scale. The only headquarters is in heaven where "King Jesus" rules at the right hand of God the Father. The only tie that binds sister congregations is the common bond we have in Christ and to the Bible. Each congregation is governed locally by a plurality of elders (also called bishops or shepherds). These men must meet the biblical qualifications for this office (I Timothy 3, and Titus 1). There are also deacons. They are chosen based upon the qualifications found in I Timothy 3.
What is your worship like?
Worship is conducted according to the pattern found in the New Testament. Jesus said, "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). Therefore, our worship is directed toward God, our spirits communicate with God's spirit, and it is according to the true nature of Christianity. Accordingly, we follow the pattern of the first-century church by observing the Lord's supper each Sunday, we sing, we pray, we give back to God what He has prospered us, and we teach from the scriptures.
Why don't you use a mechanical instrument in worship?
Simply stated, we seek to worship according to the New Testament pattern of worship. There is no example or command in the New Testament of Christians using a mechanical instrument in worship. Therefore, we believe it would be presumptuous on our part to include, in worship, that for which we have no authority. There are only 8 verses in the entire New Testament that have to do with music. The mechanical instrument of music is absent in these passages. Many members of the churches of Christ enjoy instrumental music outside of the worship setting.
What are the terms of your membership?
We find in the New Testament certain steps were taken by people in the first-century to become Christians. When that person (s) became a Christian, he/she was added to the church by Christ (Acts 2: 38-47). Therefore, we have no separate set of rules for church membership today. When a person becomes a Christian, the Lord automatically adds them to the church. We don't vote people in, or force them to a series of studies. We have no right to demand anything beyond their obedient submission to Jesus Christ. The Bible says we are saved by the "gospel" (Romans 1:16). The Apostle Paul said the gospel has to do with the "death, burial, and resurrection" of Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:1-4). Paul tells us we come into contact with the gospel and salvation by being "baptized into Christ." We are "united with Him in the likeness of His death" (Romans 6: 3-9; baptism symbolizes a death, burial, and resurrection). When a person hears the gospel, believes it, repents of their sins, and is baptized, he/she receives the remission of sins, becomes a Christian, and is added to the church (Acts 2:38,47).