Who Are Churches of Christ?
Churches of Christ came from a revival movement known variously as “the Stone-Campbell Movement” or “the American Restoration Movement.” In the late 1700’s denominational lines on the frontier were challenged by large revival meetings like the one that took place at Cane Ridge, Kentucky in 1801 led by Barton W. Stone. After the revival, Stone became convinced that denominational divisions were sinful, and he led a movement to unite all believers based on the Bible alone. In Virginia, Alexander Campbell began a similar effort to unite believers in a non-sectarian church following the scriptures as the only rule of faith and practice. These two movements merged in 1832. Though there were many differences, the desire to unify believers brought the groups together.
Churches in this movement were known as “Christian Churches” (emphasizing a commitment to being Christians only with no “brand names”) and “Churches of Christ” (stressing Christ as our only head with loyalty to no human leader). While we haven’t always been successful in living out our restoration ideals, this heritage does help to explain some things about our Denbigh church family:
- Non-Denominational: The Bible uses “church” to speak of all believers (Eph. 1:22-23) or of a local body (1 Cor. 16:19). There were no branches or denominations of the church in the Bible. So each Church of Christ is an independent congregation with no ties to any ecclesiastical structure.
- Leadership: We have local leaders selected by the church based on Biblical qualities (1 Tim. 3:2-7). These leaders are known as shepherds (or pastors), overseers (or bishops), or elders (see Acts 20:28-29, 1 Peter 5;1-2). These men give spiritual leadership and make decisions for our church.
- Scripture: Since we have no creed or church manual other than the Bible, we place a great deal of emphasis on studying the scriptures. While we may disagree with others (and among ourselves) about how best to apply the Bible at times, we agree that God’s word is the only and final authority.
- Tradition: If the Bible is our authority, then neither church tradition nor a handed-down heritage can be authoritative. You may find that we do some things differently than other churches, even Churches of Christ.
We see ourselves as a “pilgrim church” always seeking to move ever nearer to God. We never claim that we have found perfection in our quest for restoration, neither as a church nor as individuals. We seek to travel “toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called” us in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13). We all are not at the same place in every belief or practice on that pilgrimage, but we press on to the goal. We’d love to have you as a fellow pilgrim on our journey to God!