The Undenominational Church

What denomination should you join? Why join any? For example: as our nation pushed westward in the process of being settled, there would be many small villages or communities, nearly all of whom were divided religiously! It was common for there to be at least four to six different denominations represented in each small community. Often each group clung to their name, creed, and sect with more loyalty than to the Bible or the Lord Himself. It was also common for each small settlement to have a "union revival," where an evangelist would whip up a mighty fervor against sin, and would convict many of the "unchurched" into thoughts and meditation about their own spiritual shortcomings. At the end of this "revival", these sincere folks would be told to "join the church of their choice." Their family and friends also lobbied them to join "their" church!

We would like to present a hypothetical solution that would help sincere believers to be "one" as Jesus so earnestly prayed just before His crucifixion (John 17:20-23). This small group, being confused as to which they should join were reading together the account of the first sermon and its results in the second chapter of the Book of Acts, and they noted where the apostle Peter told the people then how to be forgiven of killing Jesus (Acts 2:37-38). Immediately after, the Bible describes how happy and unified the people were (Acts 2:41-47), in their praise and worshiping of God. When they discussed this, one said, "Well, why don't we do exactly what these folks did, and surely this will please God." They all agreed that their first need was to be forgiven, and since Peter had told these to "repent and be baptized...for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost [Spirit, ASV]" (Acts 2:38). "If these on Pentecost were forgiven by doing this," they reasoned, "then so will we."

Since Jesus had already said that there were "true worshippers" (John 4:23), it was obvious that there was such a thing as false worshipers. To be safe, they decided that they would follow as closely as possible the teaching of the Bible in the worship of God. Just a few verses further, they read that the new believers "...continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42). The apostle's doctrine simply refers to their inspired teaching (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and the word "fellowship" can be translated "contribution" (Romans 15:26), and means sharing, communion or joint participation in a thing. They were generous not only with their association but also their money. The "breaking of bread" may well refer to the Lord's Supper (Matthew 26:26-30; Acts 20:7), since we know that on Lord's Day, the first day of the week, they regularly met and partook of the Lord's Supper. Singing was also mentioned as an expression of worship (Matthew 26:30; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Choirs, orchestras and bands were never mentioned as part of that singing, in contrast to the Old Testament worship (see Psalms 150), as the worship under the Christian period was to be "in Spirit" or from the heart (John 4:24; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), and not theatrical.

Since the Christian period marked itself by humility and simplicity, they decided to follow the remainder of the teaching of the New Testament in observing strict congregational autonomy (no ruling hierarchy) and godly living marked by humility and modesty in all things. They called themselves simply "Christians" as the New Testament enjoins us (1 Peter 4:16). Now the question: if they did these things, of what denomination would they be part? Obviously, they would not belong to any denomination! Folks today, who call themselves Christians and collectively "churches of Christ" (Romans 16:16), are trying very sincerely to do just as we have described. The Bible clearly teaches that the very concept of denominations is contrary for what Jesus prayed (John 17:20-23), and the spirit and teaching of the New Testament about the unity of believers (1 Corinthians 1:10-13; Ephesians 4:1-6). Why not be content to be just a Christian and a member of no denomination?

Ed Rodgers, Forney, TX