You’ll notice when we write “church of Christ,” we don’t capitalize the word “church.” There’s a reason for that: the word “church” simply means “assembly.” It’s not a proper name, it’s simply referring to people who have been called out of the world by the grace of God to follow Jesus Christ as his disciples. That’s who we are. We’re simply Christians.
Every Sunday, members of the Upper West Manhattan church of Christ gather together to worship God, just as Christians have been doing for almost 2,000 years. A lot of things have changed in the world, but God’s word is still the same, and He wants the same things from us that He wanted from His people back when the church first began.
Our worship services
We do our best to follow the scriptural pattern for worship and service to God in our assembly and in our individual lives, encouraging each other to be true disciples of Jesus Christ. That means being conformed to his image (Romans 8:29), following his example of faith, love and obedience to God the Father. God says in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” and so our goal is to seek God’s will in everything we do, whether in our worship services or in our everyday lives.
When we worship together on Sundays just as the early church did (1 Corinthians 16:2), we do the same things that those early Christians did:
- Sing praises to God to encourage and teach each other (Colossians 3:16);
- Read from scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:27);
- Partake in the Lord’s Supper (I Corinthians 11:23-26)
- Pray together (Acts 4:24);
- Listen to a message from the Bible (Acts 20:7);
- Collect funds from members to continue the work of spreading the Gospel and assisting other needy Christians (1 Corinthians 16:1-2, Philippians 4:15-18).
We are an “un-denominational” church
We believe that “all authority has been given” to Jesus Christ in the church, which means we don’t have a leadership structure created by people. We strive to follow the model that the first-century Christians followed in establishing independent, autonomous local groups wherever they went, with local leadership as described in scripture.
As a result, we’re not connected with any other religious organization, even though we may use similar designation and share common practices. Our fellowship is with other Christians when we share a common faith that leads us to seek God’s truth above human tradition and submit our will to that of our Lord Jesus.
Jesus prayed in John 17 that his disciples should be one, as he and the Father are one. That happens when we are sanctified by the truth of God (v. 17), which means we’re set apart from the world because we’re constantly trying to follow the instructions of Jesus.
Who are our members?
The church, simply, comprises individuals who have been saved by the grace of God. Jesus commanded his apostles to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned,” (Mark 16:15-16).
When we accept the Gospel in faith and are baptized for the remission of ours sins, we are added to the church (Acts 2:36, 41, 47), which makes us part of the body of Christ, and brings us into fellowship with each other (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
Not everyone who is a Christian is a member of our local church – though all are welcome to worship with us! Membership at the Upper West Manhattan church of Christ simply indicates that a Christian has expressed a desire to work together with our group to encourage and build the local family at this location, while contributing to the work of evangelizing the community for Jesus (Acts 9:26-28).