I am an elder in a Church of Christ. I’m a third generation elder at that. Sometimes I criticize my brothers in the Churches, but it’s worth taking a little internet space to state why it is I’m identified with the Churches of Christ and not any of the many other denominations.
I should add that I realize that there are others who advocate and practice these things. The Churches are not alone in a single doctrine or practice. (And I could point out many flaws as well. But that’s already been done by me and others in many places.)
* I think the Churches are right that baptism is for believers and is properly by immersion. Scripture and history are clear. Now I’m a bit to the left of some who insist that a mistake in this realm is beyond God’s willingness to forgive. I disagree. But I still think we’re right and that the church universal would be better off if it adopted this practice.
* The opposition of the Churches to denominationalism is also correct. Denominationalism is a direct assault on Christian unity and harms the witness of the church to the world. Of course, the Churches have at times been far worse sectarians than those we’ve criticized, but the message remains correct. It concerns me when denominational leaders assert that denominations provide needed fellowship and mutual support among congregations. Maybe so–but it would be better to find that fellowship among sister congregations in the same locality. How will we bring good news to our community acting separately?
* Weekly communion is also true to the historical witness and is, I think, the better practice. The mistake of the Churches is (a) to make it a test of salvation (it isn’t) and (b) to make too little of the communion. We take it weekly but we don’t really celebrate it. We should make a bigger deal of it, I think.
* A cappella praise is again true to the historical witness and has its merits. It shouldn’t be a salvation issue, but I wouldn’t trade our practice for any instrumental service I’ve heard anywhere–Saddleback, St. Paul’s, or St. Peter’s. I’m glad someone is keeping this tradition alive.
* The Restoration Movement’s original conception of how to be united is, I think, pretty much right. Make the sole test of fellowship faith in Jesus and submission to baptism as well as it’s understood by the convert. Don’t make an issue of incidentals. Keep quiet about millennial, trinitarian, and other speculations. Work at what’s most important. It’s a shame that this got lost in the shuffle somewhere in our history.
* The Churches have had a strong emphasis on missions since the 1850’s, which is very important. We’ve also at times been big on church planting. Many others share the missionary impulse, but it’s not nearly as strong in Christendom overall as it should be.
* You have to be proud to be part of a Movement that says “We’re Christians only but not the only Christians” and “In faith, unity; in opinions, liberty; and in all things, charity.” We’ve not always been true to our own heritage, but it’s a great heritage.
* I think churches run better when led by an eldership. Again, it’s not only Biblical but very practical. We don’t always get it right, but I’m increasingly seeing evangelical churches follow this Biblical teaching. It’s not a salvation issue, but it’s wise and God-given.