Updated: Mar 12, 2020
A few months ago I had a discussion with the senior pastor of the hip local church. I saw a line on their website that said they were “interdenominational” and I just had to know what this word meant. He told me it means, “We are a non-denominational church, but we like the term interdenominational because we want to reach all types of people regardless of people's church history. We want everyone to know that they are welcome here”. I can spot a dodge. This was a dodge.
I wanted a real answer so I asked this follow up, "Does it mean you teach Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist, and Lutheran doctrine, or do you just want Baptists, Pentecostals, Methodist, and Lutherans to come and accept your doctrine?"
To that he responded with, "it doesn’t matter what denomination you have or haven’t identified with in the past... none of that matters. It’s all about a relationship, not religion."
I would like to apologize to all the seekers out there who have asked these questions and have received the same generic response. People seeking truth deserve a more direct answer. As you consider all the different churches in your neighborhood, I would like to give you a direct answer to what is The Church of Christ by simply using the name "Church of Christ".
The word for "church" as it was used in the time of the New Testament was a common word. I know that now it is basically used in a religious sense, but in the first century it was not the case. Church was a synonym for assembly, or maybe a better word "group". We can see it used in that way in Acts 19:39, “But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly” - that word assembly is the same word for church.
There were also many different religious groups back then just like today. In the Bible we see a group called the Pharisees. This group could be identified in a number of ways but one of their main beliefs was that there would be a resurrection from the dead. It is this belief that mainly separated them from another group- the Sadduccees. The Pharisees and Sadduccees would get most of the attention in the Bible but Jerusalem was divided into many more groups/churches/denominations than that.
When Jesus came to the Earth he gained large crowds of people because he taught a different message with authority (Matt 7:29). A question starts to rise along the lines of, "Jesus, who's teachings and traditions do your people follow?" (Matt 9:14). In other words, what group/denomination are you a part of? It is with these things in mind that Jesus proclaimed in Matt 16:18:
"Upon this rock, I will build my Church"
Jesus came from a denominational world. He did not say that they were good. He said he was going to build his group. In fact, Jesus would tell Nicodemus, a pharisee, that he would need to be born again. Jesus meant that he needed to leave the pharisees, his denomination, and submit to the teaching of Christ (John 3:3-5, Rom 6:17).
So when I say I am a member of the Church of Christ, I mean I am a part of that group that Jesus built.
We know what of means. Of allows us to know who this church belongs to. It belongs to Christ. Christ possess this church. As the builder, he built it according to his plan (Gal 4:4), built it on the right foundation, (Matt 16:16, Acts 2:36-47), and he purchased it for the right amount (Acts 20:28). He purchased and built a church that would be unified in the truth of God's word (John 17:17-21).
The only church anyone should want to be apart of is the one that is "of" Christ.
However, in Revelation 2-3 there are a number of Churches of Christ that Jesus threatened to quit claiming as his (3:5). This tells us that simply calling yourself of Christ, doesn't make you the "of Christ". There is a standard that a true Church of Christ must adhere to if it really wants to prove it belongs to Christ. That standard is his word (John 17:17). And yes, it can be proven to be his.
The denominations of Jesus day were separated by their teaching. Jesus separated his church by teaching as well. Just as you could identify a pharisee by what was taught, Jesus wanted his church to be identified by what was taught. Distinctive teaching allows people to identify his group. Everything His church does will be by his authority and teaching (Col 3:17, Matt 28:18).
The things it teaches will be by his authority (Gal 1:6-9). You won't find a mere human tied to any doctrine taught in the Church of Christ. We don't want anything but the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9). Since his system of faith was once and for all delivered (Jude 3), we are not looking for any new revelation from God. We take God at his word when he says that the Bible is all we need to live right in his eyes (2 Tim 3:16).
It will worship by his authority and teaching (John 4:24). The church of the Lord was authorized to sing without instruments(Eph 5:19) so that is how his church worships. The church is authorized to take the Lord's supper every week (Acts 20:7) so that's what his church does.
The church of Christ lives and looks like Jesus in daily living. It is full of people that are committed to living lives free from sin and knowing that when we do stumble, we have the blood of Christ to cleanse us (1 John 1:5-9). We live contrary to the world. We are sober minded and committed to purity in Christ. We also want to bring that same love and compassion to people we meet every day. Christ is the Lord of his church and we try to make sure we do what he says in all aspects of life.
God gave you a mind and an ability to reason. I pray that you will ponder and think about these things. Please open your bible, read the verses listed, and test the words written here. I am confident in the truths ability to withstand any objection, and I am confident that this is the truth regarding the Church of Christ.
It is hard to anticipate every objections and questions that you may have in an article like this, but I am more than happy to address those individually. Feel free to email email@example.com with any questions, or for help finding the true Church in your area.
May God bless you in seeking his kingdom!