Frequently Asked Questions
To the serious student, the study of the Bible brings many questions. The following are some of the more common questions asked of us as members of the churches of Christ. We hope these questions and answers are helpful to you as you consider topics of eternal importance. If we can answer any other questions about our faith or practices, please feel free to contact us at any time.
What makes the churches of Christ different?
The churches of Christ share a message of love and religious unity based upon the teachings of the Bible alone. Sadly, our world is greatly divided in matters of faith and religion. We believe that the Bible is the only possible common denominator upon which God's people can unite. So, we seek the restoration of "nondenominational' Christianity. We appeal to people everywhere let go of the divisive denominational doctrines and traditions of men and to simply "speak where the Bible speaks and to remain silent where the Bible is silent" in all matters that pertain to our Christian faith and practice. By doing that, we can all learn to love one another and unite as members of that one church that we read about in the Bible.
Where did the churches of Christ originate?
The Lord's church was originally established on the Day of Pentecost that we read about in the second chapter of the Book of Acts in about the year 33 A.D. Our prayer is that we, by faith, can be that original church by believing and practicing now as they believed and practiced in Bible days.
In the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there were those who advocated a return to the New Testament form of Christianity. James O'Kelly of the Methodist Episcopal Church advocated a return to the Bible as the source of truth. In 1793 he withdrew from the Baltimore conference of his church and called upon others to join him in taking the Bible as the only creed. His influence was largely felt in Virginia and North Carolina. History records that some seven thousand communicants followed his leadership toward a return to primitive New Testament Christianity. In 1802 a similar movement among the Baptists in New England was led by Abner Jones and Elias Smith. They were concerned about "denominational names and creeds" and decided to wear only the name Christian, taking the Bible as their only guide. In 1804, in the western frontier state of Kentucky, Barton W. Stone and several other Presbyterian preachers took similar action declaring that they would take the Bible as the "only sure guide to heaven." Thomas Campbell, and his son, Alexander Campbell, took similar steps in the year 1809 in what is now the state of West Virginia. They contended that nothing should be bound upon Christians as a matter of doctrine that cannot be found in the New Testament.
These were only four of a number of movements that began independently. Eventually, they became what is often referred to now as the “Restoration Movement” in America. It was not, and is not, a "reformation" in that it is not an attempt to change or reform any present day church. Instead, we seek to simply restore the original church that we read about in the Bible.
How many churches of Christ are there?
The most recent dependable estimate lists more than 15,000 independent churches of Christ in the United States. The "Christian Herald," a publication that presents statistics concerning all the churches, estimates that the total membership of the churches of Christ is now about two million.
How are the churches of Christ organizationally connected?
Following the plan of organization found in the New Testament, all authentic churches of Christ are nondenominational, independent, autonomous, local Christian fellowships. Their love and allegiance to Christ and their common commitment to the teachings of the New Testament are the chief ties which bind them all together.
There is no central headquarters of the church and no organization beyond that of the local elders and deacons who shepherd and serve each local congregation of which they are members. Independent congregations often cooperate voluntarily in supporting various benevolence and disaster relief projects and in preaching the gospel on both domestic and foreign mission fields around the world.
Congregations of the churches of Christ, along with individual brothers and sister in Christ, also work together to support, sustain, and administer at least forty colleges and secondary schools, as well as seventy-five orphanages and homes for the aged. There are approximately 40 magazines and other periodicals published by members of the church; along with numerous nationwide and international radio and television programs and global websites.
How are the churches of Christ governed?
Each local congregation is governed according to the teachings of Christ and the pattern and principles set forth in the New Testament. Christ Jesus, Himself, is the only "head" of the church. His holy and inspired word, the Bible, is the only authority to which the church adheres for all that is taught and practiced.
In each congregation, that has existed long enough to become fully organized, there is a plurality (two or more) of elders, or "shepherds," who serve as spiritual counselors and tend to the spiritual needs of the members. The Bible teaches that the elders are to be the overseers of the general work and ministry of the local church. Following the teaching of the New Testament, elders are selected by each local congregation on the basis of qualifications set down in scripture - (1 Timothy 3:1-8).
Serving under the oversight of the elders are deacons, or designated "servants," who tend to the many physical needs of the church; along with teachers and evangelists (ministers) who preach and teach the word of God.
What do the churches of Christ believe about the Bible?
The original sixty six books, which make up the Bible, are considered to be the divinely inspired written word of God. The Bible is held to be infallible and authoritative. Reference to the scriptures is made in settling every religious question. God's written word, the Bible, is considered the final word, or ultimate authority, for all that the church teaches and practices. The Bible is basic textbook of the church and the basis for all preaching and teaching.
Why do the churches of Christ baptize only by immersion?
The word baptize comes from the Greek word "baptizo" and literally means, "to dip, to immerse, to plunge." In addition to the literal meaning of the word, immersion is practiced because it was the practice of the church in apostolic times. Still further, only immersion conforms to the description of baptisms as given by the apostle Paul in Romans 6:3-5 where he speaks of it as a burial and resurrection.
Is infant baptism practiced?
No. Only those who have reached the "age of accountability" are appropriate candidates for baptism. The examples given in the New Testament are always of those who have heard the gospel preached and have believed it. Faith must always precede baptism. It must then follow that only those who are old enough to understand and believe the gospel message are subjects for baptism.
Do ministers of the church hear confession?
No. Ministers or evangelists of the church have no special prerogatives. They do not wear the title of Reverend or Father, but are addressed simply by the term "brother" - as are all other men of the church. Along with elders and others, ministers often offer Biblical counseling and advise those seeking help.
Are prayers addressed to the saints?
No. God the Father is considered the only one to whom the prayers may be addressed. It is further understood that Christ stands in a mediatorial position between God and man (Hebrews 7:25). All prayers are therefore offered through Christ, or in the name of Christ (John 16:23-26).
How often do we partake of the Lord's Supper?
Churches of Christ typically assemble for Bible study, fellowship, and worship every Sunday. A central part of our worship is partaking of the Lord's supper, or "communion" (Acts 20:7). Unless providentially hindered, each member typically considers the opportunity to share together in the Lord's supper a binding personal commitment and a beautiful privilege.
What kind of music is used in the worship?
As a result of the distinctive plea of the church - a return to New Testament faith and practice - acapella singing is generally the only music used in the public worship assemblies. The Apostle Paul encouraged the church to "speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit" and to "Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19). And so, singing is an important and inspirational part of our worship and praise unto God.
By what means do the churches of Christ secure financial support?
Each first day of the week the members of the church "set aside and save as they have been prospered" (1 Corinthians 16:2). The amount of any individual gift is generally known only to the one who gave it and to the Lord. These free-will offerings are the only call for financial support that the church makes.
Do the churches of Christ have a creed?
No. The belief of the church is stated fully and completely in the Bible. There is no other manual, discipline, synod, or conference to which members of the church of Christ give their allegiance. The Bible is considered as the only infallible guide to having an eternal, life-giving relationship with God.
How does one become a member of the church?
While many people who are not yet Christians may fellowship together with the churches of Christ, one cannot simply "join" the church. The only way any one can become a member of the church is to be saved. The moment a person is saved (becomes a Christian) they are added to the church by the Lord Himself. No man or group of men decides who is in the body of Christ, the church, or who is not. No one votes you in or otherwise authorizes your membership. If you are a saved child of God, a Christian, then you are a member of the body of Christ, God's forever family, the church.
Regarding our eternal life with God, our salvation is dependent upon two necessary things: God's grace and our faith. The Bible says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift if God; not of works, that no man should glory" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The love which God felt for man led him to send Christ into the world to redeem man. The life and teaching of Jesus, His sacrifice on the cross, and the proclaiming of the gospel to all people everywhere constitute God's part in salvation.
Of course, we as humans have a part in our salvation as well. The Bible makes it very clear that the only way we can reach out and claim, or accept, God's grace is by way of an authentic, active, living faith. The scriptures teach: "What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?" and "faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" and "You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone" (James 2:14, 17, 24). An active, living faith will prompt a sincere person to obey the teachings found in the New Testament, including:
Belief: "And without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing unto Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that seek after Him" (Hebrews 11:6). To become a Christian and be saved, every person must first believe the gospel message of God's love for them and make the personal choice to seek Him and His will for their life.
Repentance: "The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now He commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). To "repent" means to turn away from sin and selfishness and to live for God. Repentance involves making the personal choice to surrender one's heart and life to the Lord and to seek to please Him in all our decisions, words, and actions.
Confession of Jesus as Lord: “Therefore, everyone who confesses Me before people, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before people, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33), "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation" (Romans 10:9-10). Confession, like repentance, is not just a one time thing; but rather, it is a continual way of life. As Christians, we must always be ready and willing to confess before men our belief in God and our commitment to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Baptism Into Christ for the Remission of Sins: "And Peter said unto them, 'Repent and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38), "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for the one who has died is freed from sin" (Romans 6:4-7). "Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 3:21).
Every authentic child of God knows and understands that it is not our faith alone, or even our own obedience to God, and certainly not the the water of baptism itself that saves us - we do not believe in a "water salvation." We are saved only by the sacrificial death of Christ. His death alone is the only thing that can pay the price for our sins so that we can have eternal life with God. As the passages noted above, and many others, explain, baptism (a simple burial in water) is the expression of faith that God has chosen whereby we are put into Christ and into His death (Romans 6:3). When we express our faith in this way, we are "united with Christ in the likeness of His death" (Romans 6:5); and it is at that moment that we are "justified by His blood" (Romans 5:9), "we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our wrongdoings, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7), "and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin" (I John 1:7).
Remain Faithful to Christ: The Bible says, "Take care, brothers and sisters, that there will not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another every day, as long as it is still called “today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we keep the beginning of our commitment firm until the end" (Hebrews 3:12-14).
Contrary to what many of the denominations believe, the Bible clearly teaches that following Christ and enjoying a life-giving relationship with Him is a continual choice that we, His people, make as we walk through life. God has not, and does not, take away our free will. He does not override our personal decisions. The Bible verses above teach us that people's hearts can be "hardened by the deceitfulness of sin" so that they "fall away from the living God" and are lost. This is one reason why we seek to obey God's word when it tells us: "let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds, not forsaking our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:24-25).
In the parable that Jesus told about a farmer planting his seeds (Luke 8:4-14), He made the point that good seed produces a good crop. When the simple truth of the gospel is planted in a good and honest heart, it will still produce today what it produced back in Bible times - a beautiful child of God, a disciple of Christ, a Christian; nothing more and nothing less.
We urge you to open your heart and mind to the good seed of God's word and allow Him to plant His message of love deep in your heart. Study God's word carefully for yourself and then decide for yourself whether or not you wish to surrender your heart and life to Him and become a member of His forever family, the church.
We invite you to come visit with us at the church of Christ meeting together in Roscoe, TX or to reach out to us with regard to any further questions you may have about your personal walk with the Lord. Our hearts desire and our prayer unto God for you is for your salvation. We want you with us when this earth and all its works are destroyed by fire and God's children inherit that "new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:10-13).