About the church of Christ
‘I will build my church.’ (Matthew 16:18)
Person, proclamation, people
God gave first a person, Jesus Christ, as the object of faith and basis of salvation. God is always a God of personal presence and a God who expects a personal response. The proclamation centers in the person. Jesus is the content of the message preached. The early church proclaimed ’this Jesus’ and declared what God had done through him. The proclamation calls for a response. The proclaimed word calls and gathers a people. The church is derived from the word of the gospel and from the Christ, who is the Word.
The church of Christ was established on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus Christ as described in Acts of Apostles Chapter two.
Based on the practice of the New Testament churches, one is added to the church of Christ by the Lord himself (1 Cor 12:18 Acts 2:47). The New Testament Christians heard the gospel (Acts 8:5,6); believed in Jesus as God’s Son (Acts 16:31); repented of their sins (Acts 2:38); confessed that Jesus is the Christ (Romans 10: 9, 10); and were baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Based on God’s Word, the Bible, these believers baptize by complete immersion (Rom 6:3-7).
The purpose of the church is to worship God. According to the New Testament, the first Christians come together on the first day of the week to break bread (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:23-30). They pray together in the name of the Lord for all people, kings and all dignitaries, that they may lead a quiet and peaceful life, (1 Timothy 2:1-6). They sing Psalms and hymns, (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). They announce or preach the gospel of the risen Lord, (1 Cor 15:1-8). During the worship service on the first day of the week each member has the opportunity to give to the work of the Lord according to his ability (1 Cor 1:1-2; 2 Cor 9:5,6). Further, the churches of Christ have as purpose benevolence (Matthew 25:31-46; Galatians 6:9-10; James 1:27; and the preaching of the gospel to all people (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16, Acts 10:34-35).
Organizationally, each congregation forms an autonomous unit. She knows elders and deacons according to Acts 20:17-35, 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; I Peter 5:1-14). Neither among the elders or among the deacons is there any distinction made; no one is regarded as head but all work together as brothers to carry out the activities of the church in agreement with the inspired examples or teachings in the Bible. The elders have the oversight of the congregation (1 Peter 5:1-3). There is always a plurality of elders and deacons in a congregation. The number is specified by each congregation separately, depends on the number of brothers who are qualified according to the texts and the number of members in the local church. The church knows preachers or evangelists and teachers in addition to the members. When there are no brothers who meet the qualifications for elders as specified in the above texts, the local church is led temporarily by the capable brothers and evangelists.
Members of the churches of Christ view and use the Bible, God’s Word, as a complete and perfect book, (Revelation 22:18-19; and 2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible contains God’s plan of salvation for people; what they must do to worship God; and in every way they can do good work. (2 Timothy 3:15-17). They do not regard any additional books or articles written by people as authoritative, as these may cause disunity among the believers.