It is easy to see from history that men have a tendency to alter or disregard the message of God. It started in the Garden of Eden when God forbid the fruit of a particular tree, and man violated the divine injunction. Throughout the Israelites' history, they often changed the worship and mission that God had assigned. Even in the New Testament, evidence of departure from God's will can be readily seen in those who tried to bind ancient rituals upon Christians. In our day, many churches are burdened with man-made traditions which have no basis in the Bible and are not authorized by it.
Thus, the individual who desires to fully obey God and please Him faces a very real problem: how can he know what is pleasing to God with all of the religious confusion and man-made traditions that run rampant today? The solution is to return to the Bible and to it alone! Amos once asked - "Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?" (Amos 3:3). This passage points to the necessity of having a standard to dissolve differences. The spirit of the church of Christ is to return to the Bible! It is our desire to go back beyond denominationalism to the simplicity and purity of first-century, New Testament Christianity. We believe that the Bible--and the Bible only--will make Christians as God intended. Unity can be achieved by following the Bible. This is the safe and reasonable approach to take (cf. Gal. 1:6-9; Rev. 22:18,19). If God's desire for unity was fulfilled on Earth today, there would not be a multiplicity of churches in an area, there would just be one (John 17:20ff)! This one congregation would do Bible things in Bible ways and would cling to the Scriptures for guidance--not the wisdom or opinions of men which typically spur division.
The church of Christ does not have the trappings of many modern-day organizations. There are no official boards on any level. Each congregation is self-ruled and independent of all other congregations. There are no official conventions, publications, or policy-setting groups. Each congregation is overseen by a group of elders (i.e., pastors or shepherds) who are selected from among the members and meet the qualifications outlined in the New Testament (I Tim. 3; Titus 1).
Worship in the church of Christ is very simple and is set forth in the New Testament. It tends toward participation as opposed to one being a spectator for entertainment. Christians meet to sing a cappella, as is clearly authorized (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; I Cor. 14:15). The Lord's Supper (or communion) is observed upon the first day of every week, just as was done by the early church (Acts 20:7). Christians also worship by giving as they have been prospered, studying the Bible, and praying.
How does one become a member of the church of Christ? The terms of membership are also outlined in the New Testament. They include: faith in God (Heb. 11:6) and in His Son (John 8:24), repentance of one's sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30), confession of belief that Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 8:37; Rom. 10:9,10), and baptism (i.e., immersion in water for the forgiveness of sins; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Mark 16:16). When one meets these divine terms, he is added to the church by the Lord (Acts 2:47).
Dear listeners, are you a member of the Lord's church? We encourage you to visit the church of Christ in your community as one searching for God's truth and God's people. In most cases, if the sign on the building says "Church of Christ," you will find a devoted group of people who are trying to be faithful to the Lord in all ways. However, I would be remiss not to warn you that a sign on a building can be misleading. There are some who claim to be churches belonging to the Christ, but they are nothing more than man-made denominations! Ultimately, any congregation will make its true nature known by its fruit, demonstrating whether it is faithful to the Lord or not in its practices and beliefs.