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Church of Christ Overview

Discussion in 'Churches of Christ DIR' started by Green Gaia, Aug 26, 2005.

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  1. Green Gaia

    Green Gaia Veteran Member

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    The Churches of Christ are a body of autonomous Christian congregations. Since the Churches of Christ claim to be a restoration of the first-century church, they trace their origin to the day of Pentecost.

    The Churches of Christ have the following distinctive traits: the refusal to hold to any creeds other than those specifically mentioned in the Bible itself; the practice of adult baptism as a requirement for the remission of sins; autonomous non-denominational congregational church organization, with congregations overseen by a plurality of elders; the weekly observance of The Lord's Supper; and the belief in a cappella congregational singing during worship. The American Restoration Movement of the 19th century promoted returning to the practices of the first century Christian churches. Other churches that were advanced by the Restoration Movement include the Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (often designated "Instrumental" for their acceptance of musical instruments within worship) and the Disciples of Christ. Some Churches of Christ are called non-institutional and may have strong disagreements with other Churches of Christ.

    The Churches of Christ are distinct, in that they believe that they are not another denomination, but rather are striving to be the one, true Church. Many members today describe themselves as "Christians only" ("but not the only Christians" is often added).

    It should be noted that some members, particularly older members, of this group are apt to object to being referred to as "Protestants", believing that Christ's church was not founded as a protest against anything, other than perhaps the domination of the present world by Satan. The Church of Christ has firm disagreements with the Roman Catholic Church and does not recognize the authority of the Holy See. Some, and probably most, members would also object to the categorization of their church as a "denomination", as one of the tenets of this movement is that they are not a denomination and that denominationalism is a sinful departure from the original plan laid down in the Bible for the church.

    There is no headquarters for the Church of Christ; each congregation has its own structure, consisting of Elders, Deacons, and one or more Preachers/Ministers/Evangelists. Typically, the churches participate in a loose, informal network of other local Churches of Christ. From the beginning of the Restoration Movement, newspapers and magazines edited by church leaders have been important forces in unifying like-minded churches. Also, most congregations value the influence of Church of Christ-affiliated colleges and universities

    Elders are spiritually mature Christian men whose religious work may be in some specialized capacity of a spiritual nature. They provide moral guidance, and they or their designees approve and establish Bible study curriculum, select Sunday school teachers, and select the Preacher/Evangelist when the position becomes vacant. In some congregations, elders also select the deacons. Elders are also called pastors, shepherds, and bishops (all Biblical terms referring to the same office), but the use of "elder" is the most common by far. Elders are selected by the members of a congregation; the method of doing this varies considerably between congregations, but involves confirming that a potential elder does indeed embody all of the characteristics of elders which are listed in the Bible in 1 Timothy and Titus. In a decreasing number of congregations, the eldership is something of a self-perpetuating board in which its members are the determiners of the qualfications of their successors and announce whom they have selected to join them with little or no congregational input; this practice was at one time fairly widespread but is no longer acceptable to many members of many congregations.

    Deacons are recognized special servants of the church and most often take care of specialized needs of the congregation. Typically, the physical building in which services are held is overseen by a Deacon. Like Elders, Deacons are generally selected by the congregations in a manner very similar to that of elders. Qualifications of Deacons are also listed in the Bible in 1 Timothy.

    The Preacher/Evangelist/Minister prepares and delivers sermons, teaches Bible classes, performs weddings, preaches or evangelizes the gospel, and performs baptisms. This position is typically paid. (People associated with the Churches of Christ do not use the title "pastor" to refer to their pulpit minister, as this term is held to refer to the same position as "elder" or "bishop" in the Bible, which they feel requires a certain set of qualifications outlined in 1 Timothy and Titus.) Typically these ministers are not 'ordained' as is the tradition of many denominational organizations, and do not use the salutation 'Reverend' or 'Rev.' before their name, professing that only God should be recognized as Reverend.

    Many congregations also employ other paid ministers besides the pulpit minister, such as ministers for youth. Some members of the Church of Christ, and some groups within the Churches of Christ, do not believe in paid ministers or youth ministers.

    From Wikipedia
     
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