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Jesus

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Church

A church building, often simply called a church, is a building used for religious activities particularly worship services. The term in its architectural sense is most often used by Christians to refer to their religious buildings but can be used by other religions.

Characteristics of Churches of Christ

1. Commitment to Christian Unity
We are committed to the idea that the body of Christ (i.e. the church) is one. God did not ordain the church to be split into different denominations, but call us all to work together. The Churches of Christ arose at a time when denominationalism threatened to undermine the church as a whole. Consequently, we will work with any other Christian Denomination who share our general views as expressed below. We may disagree on certain points, but as long as these are not fundamental issues of belief, they are not essential.
2. Commitment to Evangelism and Mission
We are committed to spreading the Good news we have by sharing our lives with others. Mark 16:15-16 "He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."
3. New Testament emphasis
Whilst obviously, both parts of the Bible are of vital importance, we place an emphasis on the New Testament as it gives us not only the life of Christ to follow, but also teaching on how to live our lives as followers of Jesus, and how to organize and run the church.
4. Simple Confession of Faith
There are many long and complicated confessions of faith. Whilst we do not necessarily disagree with any of them, we stick to a simple one (Matthew 16:16). Jesus asked the question "Who do you say I am?" To which Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
5. Believer's Baptism
We believe, the person must make a commitment to Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior to be baptized. We follow the Biblical pattern of baptism by immersion where the person is literally "immersed" under the water rather than sprinkled or having water poured over them. (We will do this under very special circumstances if the person cannot go under the water for medical reasons). For more information on Believer's Baptism.
We do not practice infant baptism, but have services of infant dedication where the parents or guardians of the infant promise to bring up the child in the knowledge of the faith.
6. Weekly Communion
Communion is a central part of our service. Some Christians believe communion is so important, that they can only have it once a year. We believe it to be so important, that we have it every week!
7. Biblical Name
We prefer to be known simple as Christians. "Christians only, but not the only Christians."
8. Congregational Authority
Whilst we have a national body (The Fellowship of Churches of Christ of Great Britain and Ireland), it does not create policy for the congregations in the way for example the Church of England Synod does, it merely acts to facilitate dialogue, fellowship and mutual support and help produce those things that are beyond the ability or resources of the local church (e.g. national guidelines on aspects of law etc.). The congregations decide on their own running and day to day affairs.
Elders are ordained and recognized locally within the congregation for service within the congregation. Ministers are ordained and recognized at the national conference. A list of Accredited Ministers which also includes missionaries and chaplains is available from the Fellowship.
9. Lay Leadership
We believe in the "priesthood of all believers" and mutual ministry. Whilst we have ordained ministers and elders, the work of the church is shared out to people who have the gift and calling from God to carry out the work. Everyone in the church whatever their ability has a gift they can use to serve God and others. We encourage everyone to discover their gift and put it to use.
10. Diversity
"In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things love." Our national and international movement contains fellowships of many cultural and ethnic backgrounds with many different styles of worship. Functions of church are to worship, proclaim, educate, minister
The church finds its scope of work in the will of God. Whatever the Lord says for His church to do must be done. These actions become the functions of the church, which always are consistent with the divine nature of the church.
“The function of the church must be defined in the light of the plan of Jesus and of the fact of the meditation of the individual Christian between Savior and the lost world,” said Southern Baptist theologian W.T. Conner. “The church thus becomes the agency of saved people for enabling them to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; and combining with one another most effectively to bear witness to salvation in the most extensive measure possible.”
The work of the church can be grouped into four functions: to worship, to proclaim, to educate and to minister. These functions are not independent of one another or done in sequence. They are interdependent and interrelated.
The effectiveness of a church depends on the total performance of its functions. A weakness in worship will reflect itself in the other functions of the church. These functions are bound together like the nerves, muscles, veins and organs of a human body.
To Worship
To worship is to be aware of God and offer Him something of oneself. Worship includes the outgoing of the soul in response to God’s revelation of himself to us in Christ. Paul contends that when an unbeliever comes into a church dominated by the Spirit, the secrets of his heart will be made manifest (to him) and he will fall down and worship God (I Corinthians 14:25). In worship Christians hear what God is saying to the church and what the church is committing to God. True worship will be expressed in service and praise.
Theologian Donald G. Miller says that while worship will include “enjoyment, instruction and plans for action,” true worship is more. “That which transforms these into worship is the fact of God and the relationship of the worshipper to him. The joy of the worshipper is in God. His instruction is in the will of God. His plans for action are to make God’s will prevail in human affairs.”
To Proclaim
The early days of the New Testament churches were characterized by the proclaiming of the news that Jesus was alive and He was the Savior of the world. When the boldness of apostles Peter and John brought them before the Jerusalem council they testified, “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20)
The believer in the early church was more of a proclaimer than a preacher. The persecuted Christians were driven from Jerusalem but they “went everywhere preaching the word.” (Acts 8:4)
Much of the preaching in churches today would not have been recognized by the early Christians as proclaiming. Today preaching is really exhortation or discussion of various aspects of Christian life and thought addressed to a congregation already established in the Christian faith.
Early Christians used the words “to preach” with its object “the Gospel,” which to them meant the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
Though methods have changed, the function remains the same. The church must bear witness to Jesus Christ through proclamation. The unsaved person must be confronted with the message of redemption.
To Educate
The church by its nature must educate its members in Christian life and work.
In setting forth the requirements of a bishop (overseer) Paul said he must be “apt to teach.” (1 Timothy 3:2) Paul and Barnabas spent time in Antioch “teaching and preaching the word of the Lord.” (Acts 14:35) Converts coming from a pagan world into a Christian community need the proper instruction for growth and maturity. The pastor of a church is responsible for teaching the new converts.
So necessary was Christian education to the life of the church that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the church was that of teachers. (Ephesians 4:11)
The epistles that Paul wrote to the churches are documents for teaching the Christians in their faith and personal maturity. 1 Corinthians was Paul’s personal instructions on many of the problems that confronted the church at Corinth.
To Minister
Since the church is Christ’s body, the whole church is His ministering body. Any member of the church may minister even as any member of the body may proclaim or worship. To minister is to respond to the needs of persons in the name of Christ. Christian ministry therefore is the ministry of God’s people to overcome human needs.
Jesus set the example for ministering to the needs of others. Jesus said “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) The ministry of Christ revealed the depths of the self-giving love of God. The risen Lord continues his ministry through the church, the people of God, the body of Christ.
Though the church is primarily interested in reconciling God and man, this reconciliation vitally affects all relations between God to man and man to man.
In Peter’s epistle, ministry is expressed as basic law in the life of Christians in the congregation. “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (I Peter 4:10) How can this Institution help you develop to become a worthwhile citizen? The Church’s obligation to participate in shaping the moral character of society is a requirement of our faith, a part of the mission given to us by Jesus Christ. Faith helps us see more clearly the truth about human life and dignity that we also understand through human reason. Church (Christian) always teach us to do good, to be honest and trustworthy, respect the rights of others and protect the environment because environment is God’s creation. This teaching helps me to become a worthwhile citizen.

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