What is a Church of Christ


by Donald A. Nash, Edited by R. Conrad Cline


“What are Christian Churches or Churches of Christ, anyway? They are congregationally governed bodies with no official denominational organization controlling them. They desire to reproduce in doctrine, life, and practice the church founded by Christ.  Therefore, they consider themselves to be non-denominational Churches of Christ, having no desire to denominate themselves or be a distinct society among believers. 

Our Plea

What do we preach? We plead for the unity of all followers of Christ. This was the ideal of Christ for His church.    He prayed, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee” (John 17:21). This unity should not only be in spirit but in reality. It is to be like that between the Father and the Son – a unity in purpose, spirit, and practice, in which all “speak the same thing” (1 Corinthians 1:10) 

Our Purpose

The reason this unity is necessary is stated in the prayer of Jesus, “that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:21). The salvation of the world by the preaching of the gospel is the task of Christ and His church.  The accomplishing of this goal has been hindered by division into many denominations and sects.  Such division wastes time, energy, money and confuses those who seek the truth.  The world cannot be won till the followers of Christ are one. 

Our Plan

Yes, we have a plan by which this unity can be attained.  It is not attained by an organizational union of existing denominations or by human speculation.  The only course is to return to New Testament Christianity.  For this we plead! The only basis for any Christian faith is the inspired Word of God.  Why not then restore the church revealed there just as it was without human traditions, subtractions, theologies or practices?  This is the only logical plan for Christian unity. 

Our Program

 Here is the way this plan works.  We wear no name but the one in the Bible for the followers of Christ -Christian (Acts 11:26).    We accept no creed but belief in Christ (Matthew 16:16). We adopt no rule of faith and practice but the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).  We practice only the ordinances commanded by Christ.  One of these is Christian baptism, (which is universally recognized by all followers of Christ) the immersion of a penitent believer.  The other is weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper as a simple memorial of the Lord’s death for our salvation (1 Corinthians 11:23-30).  This is a platform all followers of Christ can accept, for it is as broad as the New Testament and as narrow as the “faith once and for all delivered to the saints.”This program to restore the church of the New Testament was begun almost 200 years ago by different preachers (in North America, Europe and Asia at about the same time) and whose mottos are still true.  “Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.” “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, love.”  - Donald A. Nash 

Continuation by Conrad Cline

I should hope a “Church  of Christ” is exactly what the name implies. However, this is a question I’ve not been asked very often during several years ministering with congregations using the name CHURCH OF CHRIST or CHRISTIAN CHURCH. This fact may be true, in part, because I have not been dogmatic and used the name "Church  of Christ" as a divisive issue around other believers because our use of this name for the church is intended to bring believers together and not create another sectarian division.     

Therefore, if I or another preacher were to give the distinct impression that somehow our fellowship has attained an “exclusively right,” for using this terminology, we would automatically destroy the original intent adopted by congregations which gave up denominational names in favour of using New Testament terminology such as "Church of Christ" or "Christian Church".

If our fellowship thinks of itself as being "the only true body of Christ" (wherever you see the name), we have blatantly denominated ourselves from all other believers! This name issue reminds me of children playing the game “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”  They know where the tail belongs, but whenever sincere religious leaders choose to use spiritual blindfolds for choosing a church name - it’s hard to determine if the tail (name) will even get placed on the donkey!   

Do you follow my analogy here? Do you really believe there is something wrong with being a church  of Christ? I certainly don’t, and am not ashamed to belong to him and him alone!  Whenever believers are divided over the clear teachings of Christ they are listening to Satan’s deceptions and lies rather than listening to the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ!   

The term “Church  of Christ” is not a denominational term, from our point of view.  Therefore, we are non-denominational. The term “the churches (plural) of Christ” is used in scripture and therefore we (this fellowship) feel content knowing this name best expresses who we belong to, as much as any and far more than most.  Church affiliation (if we have obeyed the Gospel) should never be an issue among believers, but it has certainly become so in the life of protestant churches. 

Jesus prayed, “That they may all be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee”. (KJV)  The Apostle Paul wrote concerning Christ’s church using terminology which addressed the local/focal aspect of each assembly of Christians. The teachings for the church to follow were to be used universally when he said, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.  If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (NIV - Romans 12:4-8)   

Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not stand against it!” The NIV relates the following in (Ephesians 4: 4-6) “There is one body and one Spirit- just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Do you begin to see why we use this very basic name for the church and what we mean when we use the term – “Church of Christ.” Herein, for your consideration, is the basic content of a short brochure by Donald A Nash entitled “The Position of Christian Churches” (with slight editing by me).  I sincerely hope this explanation will be adequate enough to help unraveling any mystery you may have concerning our using the term “Church of Christ” or what is sometimes referred to as “Christian Church.”