The Central church of Christ in Martinsburg, WV, is one of thousands of churches of Christ across the nation and around the world. The church of Christ endeavors to serve God with the same simplicity that characterized His faithful church in the first century. As the body of Christ, we recognize Christ as our Head by believing in his word as the only authority in religion, by actively teaching the world about Christ and his kingdom, by encouraging and supporting other Christians, and by trying to provide for the spiritual needs of our fellow man.
Are there any unique teachings of the churches of Christ?
First, we must emphasize that the church of Christ does not create its own doctrine. Why? Because all of our beliefs can be found within the pages of the Bible. Many religious institutions create their own teachings, thereby making their church’s authority greater than the authority of God’s word. The churches of Christ, however, seek to follow the teachings already set forth in the Bible.
The seed principle
Our emphasis on Bible authority is seen in “the seed principle.” In Luke 8:4-8 Jesus used a parable often referred to as the “parable of the sower.” In explaining that parable, Jesus said, “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.” In the parable, when the seed, the word of God, was sown in the noble and good hearts of certain hearers (vs. 15), it “yielded a crop a hundredfold” (vs. 8). This simply means that honest hearts who heard the gospel were willing to obey it. If seed reproduces after its kind - and it does - then God’s word today should produce just what it did almost 2000 years ago. We believe that if that same gospel seed is sown today, it will produce Christians-nothing more and nothing less-just as it did in the first century.
The Priesthood of all believers
In the body of Christ there is no clergy/laity distinction. Every Christian is a priest (1 Peter 2:5, 9). Every Christian is to involve himself or herself in offering “spiritual sacrifices” to the Lord (Romans 12:1-2). In Christ “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) Though there are different functions within the body of Christ (e.g. 1 Corinthians 12), all of its members are to be united in purpose and duty. Thus, in Christ, all Christians are equal.
We worship every Sunday: we study God’s word, pray, participate in the Lord’s supper, give a free-will offering, and sing without the addition of musical instruments. Our singing-without-instruments has, perhaps, been the focal point for more questions than other aspects of our worship. Christians should believe and practice only what God has designated. Colossians 3:17 makes it clear that our actions must conform to the will of Christ. Scripture yields evidence that the early church was commanded to sing, with the only accompaniment being that of individuals’ hearts (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). History records that early believers followed God’s word and did not use instruments in worshipping God.
Communion (the Lord’s Supper) Every Sunday
Following the example of early Christians in the first century, Christians today meet to worship God on the first day of every week. As part of our weekly worship, we partake of the Lord’s Supper, or “communion.” We do this every week because the New Testament clearly indicates that the early Christians did so to obey the Lord’s will (See Matthew 26:26-30; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Acts 20:7)
When did the church of Christ begin?
The church of Christ began in the first century, on the first Pentecost following the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You can read about its beginning in the second chapter of the book of Acts.
Where did the church of Christ begin?
The church began in the city of Jerusalem. The place (and time) of origin was predicted by Old Testament prophets centuries before it began. (See, for example, Isaiah 2:1-4; Acts 2:1-47.)
Who started the church of Christ?
According to Matthew 16:18, the church was to be founded by Christ. In this verse Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” The Bible recognizes Christ, and Christ alone, as the head of the church. (See 1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 5:23.)
The church of Christ is undenominational
A “denomination” is a fraction of a whole. Some people feel that each respective denomination is a part of the whole church. The Bible teaches, and faithful members of the churches of Christ believe, that there is only one church belonging to Christ, and that this church should be united in beliefs and practices rather than divided. (See Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 1:10.) The Bible teaches unity in Jesus Christ, but the only way to achieve true unity is to follow Him and to be a part of the church He established. Denominations founded by human beings can never provide fellowship with the Christ.
No head but Christ - no creed but the Bible
Christ’s church does not need any creed or catechism because the Bible alone provides everything we need to know to serve God. There is no human authority to which the church of Christ turns for doctrine or direction. Christ, as the founder of the church, is its only head. (See Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18.) He guides and directs the church through His word, the Bible. (See Hebrews 1:1ff)
Emphasis on Bible study
Because the Bible is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), we believe that it is authoritative (Psalms 33:4; John 17:17) and capable of producing faith in the hearts and minds of its readers (John 20:30-31; Romans 10:17). We maintain that the Bible can be understood by those who want and try to understand it (See Matthew 13:23; 15:10; Mark 7:14). We believe that its meaning can be agreed upon by those who honestly and sincerely desire the truth. Our emphasis on studying the Bible comes from simply realizing that God’s word, the Bible, was given to save us from sin (Acts 11:14; James 1:21; 1 Peter 2:22-25). If understanding God’s word and then obeying it can save a soul from sin, why wouldn’t everyone want to study it?
How does one become a member of the church of Christ?
One becomes a member of the church of Christ when he or she voluntarily obeys God’s word and becomes a Christian. This happens when a person develops faith in Christ as the Son of God, repents of sin and decides to live in complete submission to God, confesses Christ, and is baptized into Christ for the remission of sins:
John 3:26: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Acts 2:38: Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 10:9:-10: “… that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Acts 22:16: “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
When the gospel of Christ is obeyed in this way, one is added by the Lord to the church of Christ (Acts 2:47 says, “and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved”). This person is now a Christian, and is free to work and worship with any faithful congregation of the Lord’s church around the world.
May I attend the worship services and Bible classes of the Central church of Christ even if I am not a member?
Of course! We welcome you to attend any of our worship services and Bible studies. When you do come to visit us, we do not ask you to accept what you hear just because we say so; we encourage you to examine everything you hear and make certain that it is taught in the Bible (Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21).