Some Things That May Surprise You About the Church of Christ
Ernest A. Finley
Deer Park, Texas
1. It may come as a surprise to you that every one in the assembly is invited to participate in the worship in song. No choirs, special groups or solos are featured. All music is a cappella (as the New Testament indicates it was in apostolic days Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Contrary to what you may have heard, the singing is good singing, soul stirring and uplifting.
2. The size of the regular weekly contribution as reported on the record board may surprise you. This is done without any demands in the form of "dues" or "assessments." Free-will giving on the basis of other New Testament principles is impressed as the plan of scriptural giving. No pie-suppers, raffles, cake-walks or the like supplement the members' giving (I Cor. 16:1, 2; 2 Cor. 9:6, 7). We do not bum or beg from those outside the Lord's own family. All contributions, if the Lord's Will is, respected, are freely given.
3. No hyper-emotional appeal is made. You will not be urged to act or move in response to the invitation of the Lord until you have sufficient knowledge of the Truth to serve as a basis for your faith (Jno. 20:3031; Acts 16:32).
4. You may be surprised at the high percentage of Christians who attend every assembly of the church and who do it because they want to, because they enjoy it, and because they recognize this as a vital means to their spiritual growth and development (Acts 2:42; Heb. 10:25).
5. You may he surprised to learn that we have no ready-made prayer-book, no church authorized discipline or creed, no ritualistic worship (2 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
6. The manner in which services are conducted may come as somewhat of a .surprise to you. You will hear no shouting, screaming or any other manifestation of unbridled emotions. No one will fall away in a faint, roll on the floor, froth at the mouth, or walk on the backs of the benches. No one will act in any abnormal fashion. The admonition of Paul that all things should "be done decently and in order" (I Cor. 14:40) is sincerely observed.
7. That the service is not conducted by a man claiming to be a part of a special priesthood may come as a surprise to you. But since the Lord is our High Priest and all Christians now constitute a general priesthood and can themselves approach God and offer their prayers and sacrifices, it should be evident that no special earthly priesthood is now necessary (I Pet. 2:5, 9; Heb. 4:14-16).
8. With virtually all denominations having an earthly headquarters, it may he a bit difficult, at first, for you to accept the fact that the church of Christ has neither earthly headquarters nor an earthly head. Christ alone is head of His body (Col. 1: 18; Eph. 1: 22, 23) and the church's headquarters is in heaven where Christ now sits and rules in supreme authority (Phil. 3:20-21).
9. Contrary to what you may have heard, it may surprise you to learn that the church of Christ is not intent on sending everybody to Hell, but invites all to come to our Lord in obedient faith, in faithful service and worship and in godly living, that they may enjoy His grace (Tit. 2:11,12).
10. It may surprise you to learn that the Lord's church is neither Catholic nor Protestant. It is neither sectarian nor denominational. The Lord's church in the beginning was quite obviously none of these. If we are correct in our claim that we follow His Word alone (admitting that not all churches calling themselves "churches of Christ" can honestly make this claim) and in every way seek to be simple, New Testament Christians, then the church is the same as it was 1900 years ago. Being the same in headship, doctrine, and practice, it must be the same body the Lord purchased or built (Acts 20:28; Matt. 16:18) and therefore ante-dates both Catholicism and modern protestant denominationalism.
We very much desire unity, even as the Lord prayed (Jno. 17:20, 21), but we believe that unity is to be found only in Christ. Both Catholicism and denominational sectarianism stand as obstacles to this unity. We must stand upon the Word of our Lord alone, respecting His authority, and speaking only as He directs us (Matt. 28:18; 1 Pet. 4: 11) if we would "all be one" in Christ as He so fervently prayed.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 12, pp. 11-12