Questions & Answers

These are a some of the questions people ask us . . .

1. “Are you the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? the Iglesia ni Cristo? the International Church of Christ (Boston Movement)?”
    No. All of these organizations are quite different from us, and none of them have any organic association with us. The name “church of Christ” is our deliberately “generic” way of saying that we want simply to be Christians, not to be followers of any human tradition or organization. The heart of our church life is to follow Christ as the earliest Christians did.

2. “What kind of church are you? What is your denominational affiliation?”
    We are a non-denominational church — that is, we are “autonomous.” We associate with an informal, world-wide fellowship known as the churches of Christ. This fellowship has no headquarters, no formal organization, no creed or written statement of faith. We do this in order to follow Jesus Christ as the New Testament Christians did — to be simply Christians, nothing more or less.

3. “Where do you get your teachings and practices?”
    We study the Bible. We believe that in the Old Testament God has given us an accurate record of His personality, His dealings with people, and so on. In the New Testament we learn more about God’s nature, and we find specific information we need to follow Jesus in our daily lives and to work as a church. We have no other authoritative documents or persons.
    Over the past 1900 years many well-intentioned people have studied the Bible, developed religious traditions, and over time altered the shape of Biblical Christian faith. Our aim is to learn from the good things others have learned through the ages, which are consistent with Biblical teaching. However, we really want to avoid traditions that are out of step with what God shows us in the Bible. Since we don’t “know it all,” either, we’re constantly studying in order to improve our grasp of what it really says, and of what God wants to do with us.
    God is our final authority. We believe that He has expressed Himself authoritatively in the Bible, and we strive to employ responsible methods to understand it and apply it to our lives.

4. “Why do you all sing during your Sunday assemblies? Why do you not use musical instruments?”
    This is best understood as an expression of our desire to be Christians as they were in the New Testament times, living by the New Testament customs of church life, and to be faithful to the teaching of the Bible which produced those customs. The Apostle Paul urged the early Christians to sing to the Lord and each other, with their hearts as the musical instruments – so that’s what we try to do when we’re together on Sundays. This practice also allows everyone to participate more fully and wholeheartedly in the assembly.
    In our private homes many of us express our faith in a variety of musical ways, according to our freedom in Christ. Some sing, some listen to contemporary Christian music, some play instruments to the glory of God. But when we’re together in the Sunday assembly, we all sing to the Lord and each other.

5. “Do you take Communion? Why? Who is allowed to take it?”
    Yes. We take it weekly, as the first Christians did. We do this as an active remembering of Jesus’ memorial with His disciples, His death and resurrection, and our union with Him together. This is one of the special events of our assemblies, where Jesus “meets us.” All baptized believers who wish to remember Jesus this way are welcome to take it with us. We don’t encourage the unbaptized to take it, as a matter of common sense.

6. “How can I become a member of the Orangevale church of Christ?”
    The single most important qualification is to receive salvation. To do this, one needs to hear the Good News, believe in Christ, repent of sin, and be baptized into Him for the forgiveness of your sins. 
    If you have already done this in another congregation of the churches of Christ, let our elders know who you are, and tell them that you’d like to publicly identify with us. They’ll talk with you and set up a time for a study about our expectations and core teachings. We recommend that you consider your willingness to participate in the life of the congregation and to follow its leadership before deciding to formally identify with us.

7. “I come from another religious background. Is my previous baptism valid for becoming a member here?”
     See the article “Questions & Answers About Baptism” for more detailed answers to questions you might have. If your previous baptism was done according to the teaching of the Bible, then we will gladly welcome you as a member of the church here with no other formalities.
     If there’s any doubt regarding whether your previous baptism was Biblical, or if you are unbaptized, we encourage you to study the matter and consider being baptized Biblically. We’ll be happy to help you with anything you need in this regard. It’s obviously very important that we all be certain that we share in salvation, and in a common understanding of how to become a Christian!

8. “What does membership here mean?”
    Membership here isn’t a “status” in a religious organization, but a relationship, a special friendship put together by God. It consists of closeness to Him and closeness to other people in whom He lives. The tasks of membership here are the tasks of loving each other, helping each other, forgiving each other, praying for each other, working together in the church’s task, and so on. All of these things come from God in the New Testament.

9. “Is regular church attendance expected of all members of the church here?”
    Yes. This is where we “meet the Lord together,” according to the New Testament, living “in community” in Christ. If we don’t see you regularly, we’ll eventually call to see if everything’s okay. This is not due to “rules and regulations,” but because when God saves us He makes us part of His church in relationship, not merely saving us and leaving us alone. He designed it so that we need each other to receive much of the ongoing help He gives us.
    Obviously, we all have illness and other situations arising from time to time that keep us from attending on a given Sunday. But we want to be together with Him and each other to share in the things most important to us.

10. “Who leads this congregation?”
    Ideally, Christ Himself does, since He is the Head of the Church. He does this through many different leaders, doing different things. In an important way, every member is a “minister,” because anyone here can serve other people and do what Jesus would do for them..
    In practical New Testament terms, though, we have 3 groups of leaders:

  • Elders are men formally recognized by the church as mature leaders who care for the spiritual well-being of members of the church. They provide nurture, support, counsel and prayer, and are generally “shepherds” caring for us.
  • Deacons are formally recognized leaders who work in specific tasks.
  • Ministers are full-time paid workers with the church. They provide teaching and preaching, and help build a “sense of direction.” They have special tasks of helping people become Christians and helping to equip them to serve others.
    But there are also many other activities that wouldn’t get done without the help of members who serve informally. We’re grateful for the contributions of many of our people — men, women, and children — who use their talents to help the rest of us serve God, love each other, and reach out to others. We believe that each member is a minister and input is gathered from members to keep the congregation moving along as a body as it is called to be.

11. “How can I remove myself from the congregation?”
    The simplest way is for you to tell the elders you no longer wish to be identified with us.
    The New Testament does have instructions for the church to formally remove a member — to “withdraw fellowship.” This happens when a member is involved in blatant disobedience to God, and refuses help in order to change. “Withdrawal” can also occur as a consequence of divisive behavior. It is rarely necessary and only taken as a last resort after every effort to resolve the problem in other ways.

12. “Are members expected to give money?”
    Yes. Making a commitment to member-relationship includes regular giving of whatever amount you believe God wants you to give. It’s your responsibility to maintain this as you believe you best can. This is the ancient practice. We don’t scrutinize your personal accounting, nor do we “demand” contributions — these are private matters between you and God.
    Members are encouraged to plan regular giving of a consistent amount — this makes congregational financial planning easier. We try to be careful and respectful about financial situations, recognizing that everyone has different circumstances.
    The collected money is used for various programs and expenses, all of which are available for your scrutiny. At times the congregation may learn of special needs of members, missionaries, and so on, and plan special contributions — but in this, too, we try to be discreet, so no one will feel unfairly pressured.
    All funds are strictly accounted for by the Finance Committee and our Accountant and you will receive regular financial statements, and a tax-deductible receipt each year.

13. “Are members expected to get involved in church activities?”
    Yes, as your time and abilities permit. You may find great interest and satisfaction serving God and people in our present ministry activities, or you may want to start a new kind of activity to help people. Talk with our elders and ministers about where you can fit in to the plan.

14. “What is your church’s plan? What is it that you’re trying to accomplish?”
    Our basic approach is simple. Our vision statement, and our purpose statements are built from a combination of teachings from throughout the Bible:

Vision Statement:

  •     Living for Jesus by surrendering to His will, serving in His kingdom, and sharing His message.
Purpose Statements:
  •     We live to share Christ with a dying world.
  •     We live to connect people to God and to each other.
  •     We live to minister to those in the church and in the community.
  •     We live to worship God individually and as a group.
Generally speaking, what you see and hear among us will reflect these statements.

15. “If I want to become part of the Orangevale church of Christ, do I have to do everything you say in this article, and always agree with you?”
    No. The only real requirements are to have heard the Gospel and to have responded in faith and water baptism.
    However, what you read in this article is a clear statement of where we’re coming from and where we’re going. We believe our specific teachings, expectations, purpose, and strategy for accomplishing goals are rooted in the New Testament and represent a proper response to the needs of our community.

Thanks for reading this article. You’re welcome to contact us with any further questions or comments.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES
    This short list of New Testament references might be helpful to you in understanding what we do and why. They’re grouped according to the question number to which they best refer.

    1. 1 Corinthians 1:2; Romans 16:16; 1 Peter 4:16
     2. 1 Corinthians 11:1; Matthew 28:18-20; Matthew 15:1-9
     3. 2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 4:12
     4. Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16
     5. Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
     6. Acts 2:36-41
     7. Acts 19:1-6
     8. Romans 12:4-13; Ephesians 4:1-16
     9. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7; Hebrews 10:22-25
     10. Ephesians 1:22, 3:15-16; 1 Timothy 3:4
     11. 1 Corinthians 5:1-5; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Titus 3:9-11
     12. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15
     13. Ephesians 2:10, 4:16; Titus 2:14, 3:8
     14. Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Thessalonians 2:11
     15. 1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 2:1-2