Who are we?
We are the Northwest church of Christ located at the corners of 1st & Adams in Lincoln Nebraska.
Who are the churches of Christ?
When many people look for a church to attend, they go and observe the services, the atmosphere, the activities offered, etc. They are looking for something to entertain them or meet their personal idea of worship.
The question at hand is one that is rarely weighed in some hearts and minds. “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)
We at the church of Christ worship our God according to the Bible only. We don’t try to entertain each other so you will find no grand piano, organ, band or glamour in the worship assemblies. What you will find is worship to God taken directly from His word with no addition or subtraction, (Revelation 22:18-19).
The church of Christ has no creed book; we have only the Bible, the word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God asks for worship on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). We try with all our hearts to worship God as the early New Testament church was instructed in scripture. We strive to be the church as found in the New Testament (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:4; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13). We seek God’s truth without regard to what man wants or tradition dictates.
Please take a few minutes to read through this article and discover whom we are. And, as always, we invite you to worship with us at the Northwest Lincoln church of Christ located at 3110 North First Street in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Assemblies: Sunday: Bible Study at 9:30am; Morning Worship at 10:30am; and Evening Worship at 5:30pm
Wednesday: Bible Study at 6:00pm
“Members of the church of Christ do not conceive of themselves as a new church started near the beginning of the 19th century. Rather, the whole movement is designed to reproduce in contemporary times the church originally established on Pentecost, A.D. 30. The strength of the appeal lies in the restoration of Christ's original church.”
— Batsell Barrett Baxter,
Who are the churches of Christ and what do they believe in?
You have probably heard of the churches of Christ. And perhaps you’ve asked, “Who are these people? What – if anything – distinguishes them from the hundreds of other churches in the world?” You may have wondered:
What is their historical background?
How many members do they have?
What is their message?
How are they governed?
How do they worship?
What do they believe about the Bible?
This article will attempt to answer these questions.
How many members?
The most recent dependable demographic information estimates that the total membership of the churches of Christ is now about 5,062,074 members in over 40,000 individual congregations worldwide, with about 13,000 congregations in the United States. 70% of the U.S. membership is concentrated in 13 states with a presence in 2,429 counties. There are small congregations, consisting of just a few members – and large ones made up of several thousand. The average congregation size is approximately 100 members.
There are more than 7,000 men who preach publicly. Missionary expansion has been most extensive since the Second World War in Europe, Asia and Africa. More than 450 full time workers are supported in foreign countries.
Overall U.S. membership was approximately 1.8 million in 2001 and 1.9 million in 2008. Membership of the church is heaviest in the southern states of the United States, particularly Tennessee and Texas, though congregations exist in each of the fifty states and in more than eighty foreign countries. In 2000, the churches of Christ were the 12th largest religious group in the U.S. based on number of members, but the 4th largest in number of congregations. In states such as Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Kentucky there is a church of Christ in practically every town, no matter how large or small.
People of a Restoration Spirit
Members of churches of Christ are a people of a restoration spirit – wanting to restore in our time the original New Testament church.
In 1967, Dr. Hans Kung, a well-known European theologian, published a book entitled The Church. Dr. Kung lamented over the fact that the established church has lost its way; has become burdened down with tradition, and has failed to be what Christ planned it should be.
The only answer, according to Dr. Kung, is to go back to the scriptures to see what the church was in its beginning, and then to recover in the twentieth century the essence of the original church. This is what churches of Christ are seeking to do.
In the latter part of the 18th century, men of different denominations, studying independently of each other and in various parts of the world, began to ask:
Why not go back beyond denominationalism to the simplicity and purity of the first-century church?
Why not take the Bible alone and once again continue “steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching…” (Acts 2:42)?
Why not plant the same seed, the Word of God, (Luke 8:11), that first century Christians planted, and be Christians only, as they were?
They were pleading with everyone to throw off denominationalism, to throw away human creeds, and to follow only the Bible. They taught that nothing should be required of people as acts of faith except that which is evident in the scriptures. They emphasized that going back to the Bible does not mean the establishment of another denomination, but rather a return to the original church.
Members of the churches of Christ are enthusiastic about this approach. With the Bible as our only guide we seek to find what the original church was like and restore it as closely as possible.
We do not see this as arrogance - but the very opposite. We are saying that we do not have the right to ask for men’s allegiance to any human organization, only the right to call upon men to follow God’s blueprint.
Not a Denomination
Members of the churches of Christ believe that Jesus founded only one church, that the current divisions between Christians are not God's will and the only basis for restoring Christian unity is the Bible. We prefer to be known simply as "Christians", without any further religious or denominational identification. For this reason, we are not interested in man-made creeds, but only in the New Testament pattern and are simply members of the church that Jesus established and for which He died. The word "church" is not capitalized on the understanding that the term "church of Christ" is used in the New Testament as a descriptive phrase, indicating that the church belongs to Christ, rather than as a proper name.
We recognized our own personal shortcomings and weaknesses. This is all the more reason for wanting to carefully follow the all-sufficient and perfect plan God has for His church.
Unity Based Upon The Bible
Since God has vested “all authority” in Christ (Matthew 28:18), and since He serves as God’s spokesman today (Hebrews 1:1,2), it is our conviction that only Christ has the authority to say what the church is and what we should teach.
Also, since only the New Testament sets forth Christ’s instructions to His disciples, it alone must serve as the basis for all religious teaching and practice. This is fundamental with members of churches of Christ. We believe that teaching the New Testament without modification is the only way to lead men and women to become Christians.
We believe religious division is corrupt. Jesus prayed for unity (John 17). Later, the apostle Paul begged those who were divided to unite in Christ (1 Corinthians 1).
“If it's not in the Bible, then these folks aren't going to do it.”
— Carmen Renee Berry,
The Unauthorized Guide to Choosing a Church
We believe the only way to achieve unity is by a return to the Bible. Compromise cannot bring unity. And surely no person, nor group of persons, has the right to draw up a set of rules by which everyone must abide. But it is altogether proper to say, “Let’s unite by just following the Bible.” This is fair. This is safe. This is right.
As a result, churches of Christ plead for religious unity based only upon the Bible. We believe that to subscribe to any creed other than the New Testament, to refuse to obey any New Testament command or to follow any practice not sustained by the New Testament is to add or take away from the teachings of God. Both additions and subtractions are condemned in the Bible (Galatians 1:6-9; Revelation 22:18-19).
This is the reason the New Testament is the only rule of faith and practice we have in the churches of Christ.
Each Congregation Is Self-Governed
Churches of Christ have none of the trappings of modern-day organizational bureaucracy. There is no governing board - no district, regional, national or international headquarters or any man-designed organization.
Each congregation is autonomous (self-ruled) and is independent of every other congregation. The only tie that binds the many congregations together is a common allegiance to Christ and the Bible.
There are no official conventions, required annual meetings, or official publications. Some congregations may work together in supporting children’s homes, homes for the elderly, mission work, etc. However, participation is strictly voluntary on the part of each congregation and no person or group issues policies or makes decisions for other congregations.
Each congregation is commonly governed locally by a plurality of elders selected from among the members. These are men who meet the specific qualifications as given in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 for this responsibility.
There may also be deacons in each congregation. These must meet the biblical qualifications of 1 Timothy 3.
Substance of Worship
Worship in the churches of Christ centers around the same five areas, as in the first-century church. We believe the pattern is important. Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). From this statement we learn three things:
Our worship must be directed to the right entity… God,
It must be prompted by the right spirit, and
It must be according to truth.
To worship God according to truth is to worship Him according to His Word, because His Word is truth (John 17:17). Therefore, we must not exclude any item found in His Word, and we must not include any item not found in His Word.
In matters of religion we are to walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). Since faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17), anything not authorized by the Bible cannot be done by faith… and whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
The five acts of worship observed by the first-century church are:
sharing of the Lord’s Supper.
If you are familiar with the churches of Christ you are probably aware that in two of these areas our practice is different from that of most religious groups.
1. A Cappella Singing
One of the things people most frequently notice about churches of Christ is that we sing without the use of mechanical instruments of music – a cappella, "in the style of the chapel," singing is the only music used in our worship. Simply stated, here is the reason: we are seeking to worship according to the instructions of the New Testament. The New Testament leaves instrumental music out. Therefore, we believe it right and safe to leave it out, too. If we used the mechanical instrument we would do so without New Testament authority.
There are only eight verses in the New Testament on the subject of music in worship:
“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Matthew 26:30).
“… about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God…” (Acts 16:25).
“Therefore I will praise thee among the Gentiles, and sing to thy name” (Romans 15:9).
“… I will sing with the Spirit and I will sing with the mind also” (1 Corinthians 14:15).
“…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart” (Ephesians 5:18,19).
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).
“I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee” (Hebrews 2:12).
“Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise” (James 5:13)
The mechanical instrument of music is conspicuously absent in all of these passages.
Historically, the first appearance of instrumental music in church worship is not known until the sixth century A.D. The general practice is not known until after the eighth century.
Instrumental music was strongly opposed by such religious leaders as John Calvin, John Wesley and Charles Spurgeon because of its absence in the New Testament.
2. Weekly Observance of The Lord’s Supper
Churches of Christ are different from many in that the Lord’s Supper is observed on the first day of every week.
Jesus inaugurated this memorial supper on the night of His betrayal (Matthew 26:26-28). Christians observe it in memory of the Lord’s death (1 Corinthians 11:24-25). The emblems – unleavened bread and fruit of the vine – symbolize the body and blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:16). Our reason for partaking every week again centers in our determination to follow the teachings of the New Testament. “And upon the first day of the week… the disciples came together to break bread…” (Acts 20:7).
Some have objected that the text does not specify the first day of every week. This is true – just as the command to observe the Sabbath did not specify every Sabbath. The command was simply, “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). The Jews understood this to mean every Sabbath. It therefore seems reasonable that “the first day of the week” must mean the first day of every week.
We also know from such respected historians as Neander and Eusebious that Christians in the early centuries took the Lord’s Supper every Sunday.
Terms of Membership
Perhaps you are wondering, “How does one become a member of the church of Christ?” “What are the terms of membership?”
Churches of Christ do not speak of membership in terms of a formula that must be followed for approved acceptance into the church. The New Testament gives certain steps that were taken by people in that day to become Christians. When a person became a Christian, automatically they became a member of the church.
The same is true in churches of Christ today. There is no separate set of rules or ceremonies that one must follow to be inducted into the church. When one becomes a Christian, at the same time, they become a member of the church. No further steps are required to qualify for church membership.
On the first day of the church’s existence those who repented and were baptized were saved (Acts 2:38). And from that day forward all those who were saved were added to the church (Acts 2:47). According to Acts 2:37, it is God who does the adding. Therefore, in seeking to follow this pattern, we neither vote nor force people into the church through a required series of studies. We have no right to demand anything beyond their obedient submission to the Savior.
The conditions of pardon which are taught in the New Testament are:
One must hear the gospel, for “faith comes by hearing the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
One must believe, for “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6)
One must repent of past sins, for God “commands all men, everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
One must confess Jesus as Lord, for He said, “He that confesses me before men, him will I also confess before my father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 10:32).
One must be baptized for the remission of sins, for Peter said “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins…” (Acts 2:38).
And one must live a faithful life, for it is said, “…Be faithful until death, and I will give you a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10).
Emphasis on Baptism
Churches of Christ have a reputation for placing a great deal of importance on baptism. However, we do not emphasize baptism as a “church ordinance”, but as a command of Christ. The New Testament teaches baptism as an act that is essential to salvation (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16).
We do not practice infant baptism because New Testament baptism is only for sinners who turn to the Lord in belief and repentance. An infant has neither sin nor the ability to understand, and therefore cannot qualify as a believer.
The only form of baptism practiced in churches of Christ is immersion based on the Koine Greek verb βαπτίζω (baptizō) which is translated to mean to dip, immerse, submerge or plunge. Scriptures always point to baptism as a burial (Acts 8:35-39; Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12).
Baptism is extremely important because the New Testament sets forth the following purpose for it:
It is to enter the kingdom (John 3:5)
It is to contact Christ’s blood (Romans 6:3-4).
It is to get into Christ (Galatians 3:27).
It is for salvation (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21).
It is for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
It is to wash away sins (Acts 22:16).
It is to get into the church (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:23).
Since Christ died for the sins of the whole world and the invitation to share in His saving grace is open to everyone (Acts 10:34-35; Revelation 22:17), we do not believe that anyone is predestined for salvation or condemnation. Some will choose to come to Christ in faith and obedience and will be saved. Others will reject His plea and be condemned (Mark 16:16). These will not be lost because they were marked for condemnation, but because that is the path they chose.
This is a summary of our Lord and Savior’s church as described in His word, the New Testament, and has been produced by the Northwest Lincoln church of Christ utilizing information originally compiled by Joe R. Barnett. The demographic information was updated in 2010 utilizing Wikipedia.org. Our hope is that wherever you are at this moment, you will decide to accept the salvation offered by Christ and offer yourself in obedient faith to become a member of His church. If you have further questions or want to study with someone please contact us at (402) 475-3313.