Church of Christ Rules
Ok, as mentioned on Fajita’s Blog this is the Rules and patterns of the church of Christ. DISCLAIMER*****DISCLAIMER. I didn’t write this, and don’t know who did. The thing that is interesting is, Somebody wrote this (I assume with a sense of being cynical) and I read it and find parts to be funny, parts I agree with, and parts are scary. That said, I will get back to architecture as it relates to modernism/postmodernism and beyond next.
The Rules & Pattern of the Church of Christ
1 It must be noted immediately that this list is not to be construed as a written creed. No statement of beliefs or rules outside the Bible itself is permitted. However, it will be permitted that such lists of beliefs or rules shall be allowed if written in a church bulletin or other published material provided that such is clearly designated as not being a written creed. This list is here shared merely as a convenience and with the understanding that there is really no need for such since all these rules are to be found in a clear and unmistakable form scattered throughout the pages of the collected books of the New Testament. It is also to be believed that anyone who truly loves God and the truth will easily find these exact rules and consequently obey.
2 By Scriptural definition (and for the purpose of applying these rules), a Christian is one who has done the following five acts of salvation (and in this order): hear, believe, repent, confess (a Yes response to the question Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? shall be construed as a valid confession), and be baptized. Of the several purposes and benefits of baptism, one must know that baptism is for the remission of sins in order for God to consider it a valid baptism.
3 A person who has completed the above five acts of salvation, but who comes to doubt the validity of their baptism (perhaps later thinking that he/she did not fully understand the primary purpose), shall be baptized again. One of the following scenarios must be adopted: 1) that the entire previous life of the person in question shall be considered as one outside of Christ and separated from God, thus only now becoming a new child of God; or, 2) that the person in question is being rebaptized just in case. In this instance, it shall be assumed that the person is doing so with the knowledge that baptism is generally for the remission of sins, even though he/she has may not be sure if such cleansing is really needed. Regardless, any rebaptism shall be preceded with the standard ritual of confession (ones previous life as an apparent believing Christian shall not suffice as meeting this requirement).
4 The Bible shall be considered as the standard of authority for every spiritual matter. It shall be interpreted using the approved method of command, example, and necessary inference. Silence of the Scriptures on any matter is to be construed as a forbiddance of such. However, this rule shall not be applied to matters considered to be helpful in obeying any other commands (such as church buildings and their necessary furnishings, etc.).
5 Congregations shall name themselves according to the following guidelines: 1) the name shall be one that is found in Scripture and has within it the name of God or Christ (it shall be permitted that Pauls use of the term churches of Christ in referring to various congregations may be used as a formal name and amended to Church of Christ); and, 2) the name may be preceded with a location description, that being the location of the church building, not necessarily the location of the church itself.
6 All those congregations who use the same generic name (excluding the location part of the name) and uniformly subscribe to these rules shall be considered as the brotherhood; no other Christian (one who has believed and been baptized but does not subscribe to one or more of these rules) shall be considered as being a part of the brotherhood.
7 Individual members of the church may be called by several different names that are found in Scripture (disciples, saints, children of God), but Christian is the preferred designation.
8 The church shall gather every first day of the week for worship. (Note: Most calendars have Sunday as the first day of the week. Cultures whose calendars are different will have to decide whether to observe Sunday or their first day of the week; no further help here is given in making that decision.)
9 The worship service shall consist of the following five acts of worship: praying, singing, giving, partaking of the Lords Supper, and preaching. The reading of Scripture shall also be considered as acceptable since it relates to preaching. No other acts (such as lighting candles, dramatic presentations or readings, etc.) shall be allowed in the service other than the following exceptions: making of announcements, recognizing of families who wish to place membership with the congregation, giving of Bibles to graduates or other special people, or other such special activities that shall be deemed as appropriate for the worship service.
10 It is permissible for congregations to have salaried preachers and other paid employees (such as youth ministers, education ministers, secretaries, janitors, etc.).
11 Acceptable designations for preachers shall be the following: ministers, evangelists, or gospel preachers. Generally speaking, all preaching can be called gospel preaching regardless of the subject. Sermons shall typically be ended with an invitation to be baptized or to rededicate ones life to the Lord.
12 The Lords Supper shall be observed every first day of the week, and it cannot be observed on any day other than the first day of the week (nor at any function other than one specified as a formal worship service). If the congregation chooses to have another worship service later in the day, the Lords Supper shall then be observed again. However, only those who were not at the earlier service (or who otherwise did not already partake) are expected to partake. These same persons are to be given the opportunity to put an offering in the collection plate. These two acts of worship can be done in the presence of others who merely watch, or it can be done in a separate assembly apart from other Christians.
13 The Lords Supper shall consist of the following (and in this order): 1) a prayer of thanksgiving for the bread (which must be unleavened); 2) the distributing of the bread; 3) a prayer of thanksgiving for the fruit of the vine; and, 4) the distributing of the fruit of the vine.
14 Those who have not been baptized shall not be allowed to conduct any public part of the service. There is one exception to this rule: young boys who have not yet been immersed may be permitted to read Scripture in the general assembly or to lead singing or prayers in a special assembly for the purpose of training such boys.
15 Those who have not been baptized shall be allowed to participate in the worship by listening to the prayers and the preaching. They are further allowed to actively participate by joining in the singing and by putting money in the collection plate. They are not, however, allowed to partake of the Lords Supper.
16 The music of the worship assembly shall be limited to the vocal expression of words. No humming or other non-worded sounds are permitted. The use of harmonious or other singing shall be deemed as fulfilling the pattern of chanting as found in the early church.
17 No instrument of music shall be used at any time in the worship other than to play the first note or key of a song before the singing of that song. The use of a song leader is permitted, as is the use of a microphone for him. Song books or other such aids are also permitted. However, it is forbidden for more than one person to help in leading the singing, and no voice other than that of the one song leaders may be amplified by artificial means.
18 Singing shall at all times be congregational; at no time is it permitted for one person or group of persons to sing while another merely listens, other than at those brief times when a song is written accordingly. In other words, it is permissible for different people to sing different parts at different times during a song, provided that all members sing at some point during the song and it can reasonably be said that they all sang together.
19 If a congregation wishes to permit a separate group (such as a chorus) to sing to the congregation, it must be done in a separate assembly, or at least after what is considered the closing prayer of the worship assembly. It is permitted for the chorus to sing, read Scripture, and end with a closing prayer, but this shall not be considered as a time of worship, nor shall any individual in the audience allow their thoughts or feelings to be intended as a worship unto God. It is merely a performance for entertainment value; the fact that songs, hymns, and spiritual songs are being sung is inconsequential. If a woman should be used to lead the group, she is not permitted to speak until after the close of this non-worship service.
20 There shall be no clapping, raising of hands, or any other gesture or indecent or disorderly action during the worship service. However, a congregation is allowed to suspend this rule during special child-oriented services such as Vacation Bible Schools or Youth Rallies.
21 During the worship assembly, men are allowed (but not required) to say aloud amen or some other similar word or phrase as long as such is done decently and in order. Expressions such as Praise the Lord would technically be permitted, but are not recommended.
22 A collection of money is to be taken every first day of the week. Each Christian is to give as he purposes in his heart, keeping in mind the amount generally required under the Old Law. The money collected shall be put into a church treasury and referred to as the Lords money, but it can be used for a variety of purposes such as church buildings, utility bills, employee salaries, landscaping, etc. (all at the discretion of the elders). Funds cannot be obtained and deposited into the church treasury by any other means than by free will offerings. Fundraisers of any kind are forbidden.
23 The elders of a congregation may choose to have more than one regular assembly during each week. If so, attendance by all members at all of these assemblies is required unless they are prevented from doing so due to illness, work, or some other good reason. Those who no longer attend any assembly on a regular basis shall be deemed as being unfaithful and shall eventually be disfellowshipped (this shall typically be comprised of declaring such in a worship assembly and in a letter sent to the person being disfellowshipped).
24 Women are allowed to teach other women or children. They may not teach male children who have been baptized. Women may speak aloud in any Bible class (while still recognizing the authority of the man), but not during the formal worship service (other than during the announcement period).
25 The business of each congregation shall be conducted by one of two methods: 1) a plurality of elders and deacons; or, 2) a mens business meeting. The first is the preferred option, but it is not required if the congregation cannot find at least two men willing or able to fulfill the responsibility. Elders and deacons must fit the qualifications listed by Paul, the main difference being that elders have to have children who have been baptized, while deacons just have to have children. Those men who are needed to serve as deacons but do not technically fit the qualifications can still be used as long as their title is changed (ministry leader, etc.). Women may serve in an appropriate way but are not to be called deaconesses.
26 There shall be no organization of the church beyond that of the local congregation. However, conformity of beliefs can be maintained through brotherhood lectureships, publications, universities, etc.
27 Elders have authority only over the local congregation. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. An eldership can take upon itself (with approval by the other party or parties) the oversight of such things as congregations with few members considered to be in a mission area, church workers in mission areas, or other similar works deemed to be in need of the oversight of an eldership.
28 A plurality of congregations may combine money from their respective treasuries for the purpose of evangelistic efforts in another location. At no time, however, can this effort be conducted or organized in such a way as to be construed as a missionary society.
29 Divorced persons are to be a welcome part of the congregation. However, those divorced persons who wish to marry again, or those who have already been divorced and married again, must be investigated by the church (or its designee) in order to determine if their marriage (or pending marriage) has been preceded by a Scriptural divorce (that being one where the other person committed adultery either before or after the divorce). Those deemed to be in unscriptural marriages are expected to get a divorce in order to remain in good standing with God and the church.
30 All major doctrinal issues must be understood and taught without error. This includes (but not necessarily limited to): that we are not predestined to salvation, that it is possible for a Christian to lose his/her salvation, that speaking in tongues and other such miraculous gifts came to an end at the completion of the writing of the NT, that there will be no Rapture nor 1000 year reign of Christ, and that Heaven and Hell are literal. However, this requirement of perfect understanding shall not apply to the issue of the indwelling and operation of the Holy Spirit.
31 The preaching of these rules and correct doctrinal positions shall be deemed and denoted as preaching the truth. As noted above, people who do not understand these rules (and thus fail to follow them perfectly) shall be deemed as not truly loving God nor the truth.
32 These rules shall be observed without variation of any kind. Anyone who fails to know and follow these rules perfectly is deemed to be lost eternally unless he/she repents. The grace of God shall not be thought to be extended for any misunderstanding or noncompliance. However, moral imperfection (sin) shall be excused (covered by grace) provided the person regularly prays and asks for forgiveness.
33 Any group who fails to abide by these rules in their entirety is to be called a denomination. Anyone who attends a denomination is committing the sin of denominationalism.
In addition, the following are yet more rules that are not as frequently debated:
1. observing Christmas or other holidays
2. fruit of the vine must be fermented/not fermented
3. one cup vs. multiple cups
4. no kitchen or eating in the building
5. cannot give to non-Christians, orphan homes, etc.
6. non-baptized not allowed to read Scripture
7. no separated classes
8. Bible versions
9. taking of oaths
10. serving in the military
11. inflicting capital punishment
12. using force to defend oneself or others
13. serving as a government official
14. lifting hands while singing
15. joining a ministerial alliance
16. how God answers prayer
18. who selects and appoints elders
19. singing as the emblems are passed
20. use of church buildings for secular activities
21. building of fellowship halls, gymnasiums, etc.
22. use of an instrument in “church” weddings
23. youth directors, youth rallies, youth camps
24. the six days of creation being literal days
25. the operation of Christian hospitals
26. ministers of education, ministers of music, etc.
27. the baptismal “formula”
28. formal confession before baptism
29. dedicating babies
30. signing contribution pledge cards
31. women wearing shorts and slacks
32. women working outside the home
33. Children’s Bible Hour
34. bussing children to services
35. degrees of reward and punishment
36. dress code for men serving the Lord’s Supper