Characteristics of the Christian Church (D.O.C.)
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was founded in the United States in 1832 with a vision of restoring the life and unity of the New Testament Church. With confidence in the Bible, no other documents, creeds or confessions have been imposed to standardize doctrine or practice. The following themes have characterized the life and development of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
A Concern for Christian Unity
All Christians are called to be one in Christ and to seek opportunities for common witness and service. We understand that the Church of Jesus Christ on earth is essentially, intentionally and constitutionally one. Christian unity is our polar star.
A Commitment to Evangelism and Mission
Unity is not an end in itself. Believing that the world will be won as the Church is one, it is the context of proclaiming the Gospel and serving in the name of Jesus. That commit ment is shown both by emphasizing the need for personal faith in Jesus Christ and by a concern for peace and justice for all people.
A New Testament Emphasis
We are “people of the Book;” our authority is the Bible, not church traditions or offices. We seek unity and pursue our mission by modeling the life of the New Testament Church in our own time and place.
A Simple Confession of Faith and Freedom of Christian Conscience
Based on Peter’s confession in Matthew 16:16, we ask affirmation of only one question of those who seek church membership. “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and trust him as your Lord and Savior?” With this foundation, Christians are free to follow their consciences as instructed by the Bible and guided by the Holy Spirit through prayer and study.
We baptize by immersion only those who have reached an age where they can make their own confession of faith in Jesus Christ and choose baptism. In respect for Christian conscience and the unity of the Church, we honor other traditions of Christian baptism.
Weekly, Open Communion
Following the model of the New Testament Church, we celebrate The Lord’s Supper (communion, Eucharist) each Lord’s Day (Sunday). This meal of grace and fellowship is open to all who are trusting in Jesus Christ.
We live under the authority of Christ worked out in the local congregation. Each congregation makes its own decisions, calls its own pastors, pursues its own calling from God without pressure from external structures of authority. Congregations voluntarily and joyfully share together in worship, mission and fellowship as practical expression of Christian unity.
Believing in the “priesthood of all believers,” we practice a mutual ministry in which both clergy and laity lead in worship, teaching, service, governance and spiritual growth.
Perhaps our best known slogan is “In essentially unity, in nonessentials liberty, and in all things love.” With our commitment to Christian unity and the freedom of Christian conscience, diversity of theology is inevitable. When we are effective in mission, diversity of culture, ethnicity, economics and background result. While diversity brings challenges of division and conflict, we celebrate its richness and affirm our essential oneness in Jesus Christ.