Why I am a Member of the church of Christ
by: Harley Pinon
San Jacinto
Church of Christ
 I was only ten when my dad came home one day to announce that he was looking for another church. I was obviously pretty young to understand everything going on, but I understood that dad was upset, and that things were going to change. One of the elders bought gas from dad who operated a service station in town. The elder told dad that they finished their elders meeting early. They all decided to put in 50c so no one would loose much, and they would play a game of poker. That did it for dad.

 After attending a few different churches, dad made his decision: we would attend the Church of Christ. I still remember being a bit reluctant because I really did like that beautiful pipe organ of the First Christian Church, but brother Love had explained that to dad, "It's safe to do without it." Brother Love lived up to his name. He was a loving man, and he made a very favorable impression on me. It is true that there is nothing in the New Testament that authorizes the use of instrumental music. (Eph 5:19 NKJV) says, "Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord," I know some appeal to the Greek word psallo, and contend that it means playing on a ten stringed instrument, but I think the instrument is mentioned in this verse: "making melody
in your heart to the Lord.

 Pipe organ aside, dad's case was that the Church of Christ was just going by the Bible. I couldn't object to that, and a few months later, at the age of ten, I was baptized. With the passing of years, a lot of things change. Mom and dad have passed on, and I've obviously "been on my own" for decades. I've had time to think, and opportunity to change, but I haven't. With the passing of the years, I've observed that the music is better in my judgment in Churches of Christ. I'll define "better." It's better to me because the people are more involved in the song service. They do "make melody in their hearts to the Lord." The words are understandable, and the people are involved in the song service. Does it sound the same as the pipe organ? Of course, not, but acapella has a beauty of its own that I have come to appreciate, and as brother Love said, "It's safe to do without it."

 But as we grow, the church we attend must become "our church." I know some of my brethren would argue that the church is Christ's church, and no one would argue with that, but there must be a sense in which the church becomes our church in a similar way to the way my wife is my wife. There has to be some serious attachment: a serious relationship.

 So why the Church of Christ fifty-six years later? We could talk about a lot of things, but let me list a few of the core issues: the most important.

The Bible Is the Authority

 A very important appeal to me was that we would "do Bible things Bible ways, and call Bible things by Bible names." I know there is more to it than that, but in churches of Christ, I do find that the authority of the Bible is highly respected. Unfortunately, there are also many members of the church who cannot honestly tell the difference between what the Bible says and tradition. Perhaps to put it another way, there are members of the church who can be very defensive of things that are only traditions. Many in the churches of Christ will listen with an open mind to the teachings of the Bible. Again, it makes a difference to many Christians who the teacher is. Some of the beauty of the Restoration Movement has been lost because many turn to the Bible just to defend what they already believe rather than turn to the Bible to see what it says. There is a big difference in those two approaches.

The Virgin Birth of Christ

 What is it that makes Christianity Christianity? Well, looking at the word should tell us. It's all about Christ; at least, it should be. Having said that, what makes Christ special? What is the confession that we make before we are baptized? Look at what the Ethiopian said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." (Acts 8:37 NKJV) How was He the Son of God? In Luke we read, "And Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" {35} And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:34-35 NASB) I believe it is essential to our salvation that we believe Jesus to be the Son of God. Jesus said, "I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins." (John 8:24 NIV) Churches of Christ teach that Jesus is the Son of God -- that He was born to the virgin Mary.

You Can "Fall from Grace"!

 Churches of Christ teach that born again Christians can "fall from grace" and be lost eternally. I believe the scriptures that teach this are abundant. Paul warned, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." (1 Cor 10:12 NKJV) Jesus said, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62 NKJV)

 Some denominations teach that a child of God cannot sin in such a way as to lose his salvation. Some then do double talk by saying, "Well if he did that, he was never saved to begin with." We need to teach what the Bible teaches, and not make up doctrine as we go. The Bible is clear that we can fall, and to teach men otherwise is to give them a false sense of security which could easily cause them to be lost.

The Importance of Baptism

 A few years ago, when I was teaching at Mountain View College in Dallas, somehow one of my students began discussing his being brought up in a church which practice infant baptism. He then read about being born again, and exclaimed, "When was I born?" He was frustrated that he could not put his finger on any event in his life that indicated the time he was born again, or had become a Christian. His experience only adds a bit of emphasis to what I believe the Bible teaches as the importance of being baptized into Christ to become a Christian. Paul said, "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?" (Rom 6:3 NKJV) and also, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.' (Gal 3:27 NKJV) For more on what the Bible teaches about becoming a Christian, see How Does One Become a Christian.

The Lord's Supper Every Sunday

 We just noted Paul's statement, "as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?" (Rom 6:3 NKJV), but there is another physical way in which we are reminded of the death of Christ, and that is by partaking of the Lord's Supper. There is no other act of obedience and worship exactly like baptism and the Lord's supper. In baptism we get wet as we are buried in the water of baptism. In the Lord's Supper, we eat the bread and drink from the cup. Jesus "took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." {20} Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you." (Luke 22:19-20 NKJV) As Paul retell this account, he adds these word of correction, "Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper." (1 Cor 11:20 NKJV) If you'll read the context, you'll understand that Paul is saying the reason it was not to eat the Lord's supper because of their abuse of it, but that was an important reason for their coming together.

 So who partake quarterly or yearly like to argue that it would become common place if observed every Sunday. That simply isn't true. The Lord's supper is what we make it. If our minds wander, and we are not thinking about what we are doing, then that is clearly wrong. "Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord
in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. {28} But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. {29} For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." (1 Cor 11:27-29 NKJV) In Acts 20:7, we read, "Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight." This phase sounds like they came together for the purpose of breaking bread.

 Nothing really takes the place of reminding us of what Jesus did for us like partaking of the Lord's Supper. Today, few churches observe the Lord's Supper each week.

No Central Headquarters

 Each congregation of the church of Christ is self ruled. That means that they select their own preacher, determine their time of services, order of services, song books that are used, and numerous other decisions. It also means that they determine their own budget. That means they set the preacher's pay; determine the works outside the congregation that they will support, determine what local programs are needed, and much more. It's the rough equivalent of having no federal government. Local churches of Christ make their own decisions. The great benefit is that you have the feeling that this is "your" congregation. When I was in junior high and high school, I attended the Fox and Lake congregation in Carlsbad, New Mexico. I remember listing to inspiring presentations by missionaries, and thinking, I hope the elders will help this man with this work. They always did, and it was exciting to know that as a congregation, our elders could decide that this was a worthwhile work and support it.

Giving is Between Me and God.

 Giving willingly, and freely, but not as a requirement. Other churches vary greatly in how they practice giving. I have even been in a few churches of Christ that used pledge cards, but most of my association has been with churches where giving was strictly between members and their God. I think that's how it should be. My personal belief is that we should tithe or exceed the tithe since we have a better system than the one that required a tithe. I'm not saying what I'm saying because I want to give as little as possible, but I don't feel someone should be looking over my shoulder and billing me when I don't give the amount that I am supposed to. Giving is a very important part of the Christian life, but I believe it is to be very personal. Jesus said, "But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing {4} that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you." (Mat 6:3-4 NASB)

Is it Perfect?

 No, it's not perfect. I know, because I am a member, and I'm not perfect. Likewise, our restoration leaders were human beings. Alexander Campbell changed his mind on things as he continued his study. Some say that some of these changes in his position are why we have two different groups that look to him as one of their leaders, The First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the Churches of Christ. Such divisions are sad for many reasons, but while churches of Christ are not prefect, I am a member because of the reasons I have just stated as well as others. I want to worship where people are told how to become a Christian as I believe the Bible teaches. I want the other things I have outlined above. I think of these as core essentials that are vitally important. See my article How Does One Become a Christian By looking at my articles on the Trinity as well as other areas of this website, I'm sure you will conclude that I don't agree with all of my brethren on everything. In spite of the differences I still need a place to worship, even if some differ with me. I'm thankful that I am preaching for a congregation that is willing to listen to what the Bible says, even when it's different from what they may have been taught.

Scripture quotations marked "NKJV™" are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.