What denomination is the church of Christ?
Our modern religious culture treats Christianity like ice cream: lots of different flavors are available, and you can choose the one that you like or are comfortable with, but at the end of the day it’s all still the same thing – ice cream. Our culture has conditioned us to see all the congregations around us as just variations on the basic theme of Christianity.The New Testament, however, records Jesus as having a different design for His church. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus says to Peter that “I will build My church.” Jesus only intended there to be one Church. He intended for those who claim relationship with Him to be unified:
“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one , just as We are one ; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:17-23).
Jesus intended the truth of His message to unify His apostles and those who come to a knowledge of God and Christ through their words and work (which would include us today as we read the apostles’ words in the New Testament). Clearly, Jesus did not intend for there to be many, differing (and even contradictory) variations of His church. Furthermore, the apostle Paul makes clear that what was taught among different congregations was the same message leading to the same practices (1 Corinthians 4:17).
There were no such things as “denominations” when the church was first established and the earliest Christians were gathered as local congregations. The congregations of the first century were all in the same place religiously not because some central denomination policed the beliefs and practices, but because the congregations all strove to adhere to the singular apostolic message. And each congregation was autonomous – financially and structurally independent from all others. Each congregation was overseen by its own elders (Acts 14:23; Philippians 1:1).
We are trying to do just what we read about in the New Testament, without the modifications of subsequent creeds, later traditions, abstract systematic theologies, or biblically-unknown conferences of congregations collectively deciding what all will believe and do. We are simply trying to be a local congregation that, based on reading only the New Testament, still today follows the same message that the apostles taught in every congregation.