A drive down any main street in any city in the USA will show an immeasurable number of “church buildings.” Each one offers something unique, wears a different name, has a different date of origin, etc. What makes the “church of Christ” unique is its commitment to take the “Bible only” as sole authority for all spiritual decisions. There are no councils or meetings that determine doctrine; there are no elections of higher officials who make decrees to be adhered to. The “church of Christ” seeks to mimic the doctrine followed by the first Christians of the first century.
Looking at the New Testament, a picture is painted of “the church” as singular in the world. The church in the New Testament is described as the body of Christ. Her members wore the name “Christian” (un-hyphenated and unattached to any other religious name). The church of the New Testament was not a denomination, for there were no such things in the first century. A “Christian Denomination” is a religious institution created by men. They were created, in many cases, with the intent to worship God (an admirable goal). The problem is, God never authorized or commanded people to create their own churches to worship Him: Jesus has a church; He expects us to worship Him as members of it.
The church of Christ is the body of Christ:
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all (Ephesians 1:22-23).
When a person obeys Christ’s command to be Baptized (Mark 16:16), he becomes a part of the body/church which belongs to Christ..and there is only ONE:
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13).
A person does not join the church; he is added to it by God, and God’s not going to add someone to a man-made church:
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41).
The church is made up of the saved, and only the saved, because the church is the saved. The word “church” means “called out” and the saved in Christ are those called out by Christ: called out of the world into the light of salvation (1 Peter 2:9). Those who are called out are the church (the words are synonymous), and therefore the church is the saved.
Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily, those that were being saved. (Acts 2:47).
The “church” is not the place where people go to worship. That’s just a building. People could just as easily worship under a tree, in a mall, or at the zoo (not recommended), or in the home of fellow brethren as first century Christians did. Having said that, Christians who live in the same area are obviously going to worship together, and without the worry of legalized persecution (as was the case in the Roman-ruled first century world), a neutral meeting house is a natural expedience.
We meet to worship God under the pattern of the New Testament, and like the early Christians, we meet to worship God every first day of the week. For additional encouragement we meet in the mid-week as well. Other Christians all over the world do likewise, and what binds us all together is common practice of worship, common faith in Christ, and common membership to the one body of His church.
The church has no name. Her members have a name. We are Christians..and Christians only. We don’t call ourselves “church of Christ” or “Christ’s church.” That’s not our name; our name is Christian. “Church of Christ” is a term used to describe the Lord’s body, and the buildings where they meet to worship in various places. But for the individual member of that body, there is only one name given:
And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch (Acts 11:26).
That word “called” doesn’t mean that the people in Antioch just randomly selected the name. In the original language, that word is χρηματίζω (pronounced: cray-ma-tidzo), which means “called by God.” First century people, saved in Christ, wore a name given to them by the heavenly Father: Christian. To wear any other name in religion would be an affront to God our Father. Of course, though the body of Christ has no specific God-given title, it is referred to by several different Biblical terms:
church of God (1 Corinthians 1:2)
church of the First Born (Hebrews 12:23)
the church (Acts 5:11)
body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27)
the Lord’s church (Ephesians 5:29)
church of the Living God (1 Timothy 3:15)
church of Christ (Romans 16:16)
The reason we primarily associate ourselves with just one of those terms (church of Christ) over the others is because we live in a world where buildings on every street corner claim Christ under the banner of various denominations. In order to easily distinguish ourselves from others (Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, etc) we stick to one Biblical designation: CHURCH (meaning “called out”) OF (meaning “belonging to”) CHRIST.
A person becomes a part of Jesus’ church by becoming a Christian. According to the New Testament, a person becomes a Christian by believing in Christ (John 8:24), by repenting of sins (Acts 2:38), by confessing faith in Christ to others (Matthew 10:32-33), and by being immersed in water (Mark 16:16). Those who do that, as the Bible commands it, in the way the Bible commands it, for the reason the Bible commands it, become Christians by the Grace of God. They are added to the Lord’s body, His church. His one church. We know we’re not perfect. We make mistakes just like everyone in the world. The Lord is perfect. The design of His Kingdom is perfect. However the people in it are not, and thus we need His blood to cover our sins (1 John 1:7).
If you are looking to worship God as He commands, but are frustrated with the complex and unneeded additions man has added to worship and Christianity over the years, the church of Christ invites you to seek us out. If you are questioning why one God needs hundreds of doctrinally-opposed religious organizations, the one church of Christ is the answer. We’re seeking for souls as Christ commands us (Matthew 28:19), looking for people who are touched by the story of the Old Rugged Cross. If that’s you, we’re seeking for you. Help us find you.