Tag Archives: church of Christ

What is the church of Christ?

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For over a hundred years there have been churches that refer to themselves as the Church of Christ. These churches have that sign on the door or out by the street, and many people recognize that there are certain things that make these churches unique.

However, the name that is used was never meant to be a name. It is and has always been a description of the people. The people are the church that belongs to Jesus, the Christ (Romans 16:16).

So what does the church that belongs to Jesus look like? The following is a list of ideas that Jesus presented which should be attributes of his followers. I encourage you to read this with your bible open following along with the passages referred to.

What is the church of Christ?

The church that belongs to Christ understands its need for forgiveness and is anxious to be able to extend that forgiveness to others. It is not a church that holds grudges. (Matthew 6:14-15)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks the Holy Spirit in the lives of each believer. They follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their lives as they live each day – not just on Sunday. This creates within them a fire, a passion, as they experience life in the presence of God who lives within them. (John 14:15-17, 26-27)

The church that belongs to Christ understands that belief in Jesus and connection with Him in baptism (immersion) are essential to salvation. They don’t try to argue this away. They accept it and are willing and eager to follow Jesus’ instructions and example in this manner. (Mark 16:15-16)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that unity with one another is essential to life in Him. They believe that this unity is key to their ability to evangelize to the world. They are not known for their division. (John 17:20-21)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that faith is essential to a person’s ability to follow Jesus. They recognize where their faith is weak and ask Jesus to strengthen their faith through the Spirit at work within them. They understand that without this faith it is impossible to please God. (Luke 17:5-6)

The church that belongs to Christ is a praying church. Prayer is seen as powerful and necessary to the connection and relationship between the church and God. They understand that it is through prayer that much of the power of Christ is released upon the world around them. They follow Jesus’ example of being constantly in prayer. (Luke 5:16; 11:1-13)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that He has called each one of us, no matter our past, to evangelism – to tell others about Him. This is not just the preacher’s job, but it is the role of each follower. A follower excited about his or her Savior cannot help but tell others about Him. (Mark 5:19)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that communion – partaking of the body and blood of Jesus – is essential to the life of the believer. They believe it is in communion with Jesus that relationship with Him is fostered as often as it is taken. (John 6:53-56)

The church that belongs to Christ doesn’t make it a practice to stand in judgment of others. They are accepting of all people because they recognize that all have sinned, and everyone has need for the same Savior. (Matthew 7:3-5)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks the reign of God, His kingdom, in their lives each day. This is not relegated to once or twice a week in a certain building but is shown by a lifestyle devoted to following God in every decision and action daily. (Matthew 6:33)

The church that belongs to Christ is full of flawed people who haven’t got it all figured out. They are broken people who are trying their best to allow God to change them, but it is a daily process, and some days are better than others. This creates an atmosphere of equality among all people regardless of race, age, gender, or class. (Matthew 9:12-13)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks to obey Him in all things. They see their obedience as part of their faith. (John 14:15)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks to show mercy and grace to all whom they come in contact with. They understand that they have been shown mercy and grace by Jesus and seek to reflect Him to others. (Matthew 5:7; 9:13)

The church that belongs to Christ is in the business of disciple-making. They aren’t interested in merely inviting someone to a weekend service. They want to help one another grow in their understanding and ability to follow the teachings of Jesus. (Matthew 28:18-20)

The church that belongs to Christ is compassionate. They seek to show that compassion in the world around them and seek nothing in return. (Luke 10:33-37)

The church that belongs to Christ is generous because it understands that everything it has has been given by the One who owns everything. It understands that the money and possessions it acquires are to be used to glorify God by helping others. It gives generously as an act of worship. (Mark 12:42-44)

The church that belongs to Christ focuses on what Jesus said are the most important ideas: Love God and Love your neighbor. This church is recognized by its love. The world all around knows there is something different about the church that belongs to Jesus because it loves like no other entity does – masses of followers banding together to be an example of love to everyone around them. (Matthew 22:35-40)

The church that belongs to Christ doesn’t worry about names on building or denominational association. This church is boundless. It has no borders. It is found in every church as people claim allegiance to the Savior who died and rose again. (John 10:16)

The church that belongs to Christ follows Jesus. No. Matter. What. (Matthew 10:38; 16:24-26)

This is the church of Christ. It’s not a name on a building but a way of life. It is all people who choose to follow Jesus – his examples and his teachings. Are you a part of that church?

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Same Words Different Meanings

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Christianity is a culture with many terms that are used almost exclusively within that culture.  When was the last time you heard the word propitiation used outside a church context (or inside one for that matter)? We often talk about righteousness and grace and justification.  Those words are good English words, but their meaning inside church culture holds great significance.  Outside that culture, however, these words are seldom used.  

We have other words that we use commonly but we’ve given them a different definition than their original intent.  

The term “pastor” is used nowadays to refer to anyone who is in a preaching role in a church.  Usually the pastor is the “head” of that branch of the church.  The bible doesn’t use this term this way.  In fact, I’m surprised that the bible includes this term at all.  It is only used once in English translations and the Greek word that it is translated from is always translated as “shepherd” in the other instances it is used in the New Testament.  A pastor is supposed to be one of a group of shepherds or elders of a church.  

Pastor is a term the church of Christ has tried to avoid for many years, but culture keeps using that term in its new definition, so many churches are giving up on fighting this original definition.  The original definition of “pastor” is being lost on this generation.

There are a couple other terms we use commonly in church culture that we gave up on a long time ago.  We don’t even readily argue for the perpetuation of the original meaning anymore.  

The first is “church”. 

I recently had the blessing of serving with a friend of mine who is living in a missional community with the intention of driving the darkness out of the city in which they live.  They live together – Christians in common – being the church in community.  

At this service opportunity a teenager asked my friend if they all attended church together.  My friend looked bewildered and said, “yes, this is it.” 

He was bewildered because he was living in the biblical definition of the word “ekklesia” that many translations interpret as “church”. Church didn’t become a building until after the Catholic church began to build buildings around holy places as shrines for worship. The english word, “church”, comes from a German word that was used to signify such buildings.  Ekklesia, on the other hand, denotes community.  It is the assembly of saints in every place.  It is the people – not the place, and definitely not a denomination.

The other term is “ministry”.

This same teen asked my friend where they did ministry.  This was still in the context of the previous question about where they attended “worship” (another term that has been redefined throughout the years). My friend looked around again and said “we do ministry by living.”

Christians often think of ministry as a program of the church where they attend where people who have something to offer provide goods or services to those “less fortunate”. This cannot be further from the biblical idea.  Ministry wasn’t intended to be relegated to a specific activity.  Ministry is an outpouring of love to those living all around us.  Ministry is seeing others as equals and treating them as such even if they are drug addicts and prostitutes.  Ministry isn’t enabling dependence on a welfare-like activity.  Ministry is living with those the world sees as less fortunate and encouraging them and respecting them and expecting the same from them.  It’s not a top-down kind of mentality; it is an equality mentality.  Ministry doesn’t feed the poor; it frees the poor.

If you’re reading this chances are you are part of a church that does ministry.  Read the book of Acts.   See how the church functioned.  Imagine what the world would be like if we were actively battling the forces of evil in the spiritual realms while living together in community without need for all the pomp and circumstance.  Could this really be what we are called to? 

This group that my friend is involved with has been actively battling the darkness for at least five years now, and they now have watched Jesus drive the darkness out of two whole neighborhoods that were the most dangerous places in their city.  They are now actively pursuing the darkness into a third neighborhood.  Even the police recommend they don’t follow, but they do anyway – family and all.  God continues to scatter the darkness as the light and salt of Jesus is spread in strongholds of the enemy.  

This isn’t just church talk.  This is really happening.  The book of Acts doesn’t have to be a historical document.  It can also be a playbook for how to live for Christ today, but that would require us to give up on fear and be filled with an unquenchable love and desire to follow the Holy Spirit’s guiding.  It would also require us to remember the original meanings of so many biblical ideas.  It would require a restoration of first-century discipleship. I’m praying for a generation to rise up and change the world, and the generation I’m praying for is mine.  Won’t you join me?


Not Good Enough – A Dilemma

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I’ve grown up going to church. My grandfather and great-grandfather were song leaders in the church of Christ, and my parents had us at the building pretty much every time the doors were open. Church has always been a part of my life.

I had great teachers in bible class as a kid. They taught us wonderful bible stories and the message of Jesus. We even went and competed at bible bowls. But my greatest teachers were my parents and grandparents. They were the ones who not only told me about the messages of the bible but showed them to me in their lives.

Needless to say I grew up knowing about sin and death and love and joy and Jesus and salvation. There was this problem, though. Once I got to Jr. High I knew I wasn’t good enough to deserve that salvation.

No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t be good enough. I knew all the answers to the bible questions. I was in church every week, but I didn’t feel like I could come to Christ because my sin was still in the way. In fact, I remember going to a church down in South Texas while we were visiting some friends, and I had all the answers in bible class. One of the other students asked me why I hadn’t been baptized since I “knew all the right answers”.

I knew I didn’t know everything – and still don’t – but I knew I needed Jesus.

This was a huge struggle for me. I wanted to be free from my sin, but I didn’t feel like I could stay good enough once I was baptized. I felt like the baptism wouldn’t stick. I’d still be a sinner.

One Sunday morning during my sophomore year I was listening to the sermon, and it dawned on me: I couldn’t be good enough. I needed Jesus to make me good. It was when I realized this that I gave my life to Christ and was baptized.

I’m still a sinner. But now I understand that my baptism was the beginning of a process that would take my whole life – a process to make me look more like Jesus. In the meantime, His blood cleanses me from the sins I continue to commit. I’m a weak sinner, but He’s a tireless Savior.

Paul reminds the Romans of who they were when they came to Christ when he says “while we were STILL SINNERS Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 emphasis added). Jesus didn’t wait for us to be perfect before He came to save us. If we could achieve that on our own we wouldn’t need a savior.

If you’re waiting until you’re a better person before you dedicate your life to Christ in baptism, then you’re going to always be waiting. You’ll never be good enough, but thank God that once you come to Him He makes you good. He declares you worthy.

He’s waiting for you to answer the call, and He’s been calling for a while.


The Greatest Story Ever Told

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There is a book to which the best sellers on the New York Times list can never compare. It is the best seller of all time. No book has ever come close. But it is seldom read.

That’s right. It’s the bible.

Many of us have them on our shelves. Most of us have more than one copy. We have them in different fonts and translations. We have children’s versions for our kids. We have them in the pews of our churches. But they function more like dust-gatherers than tools for growth.

This March, on the History channel, a new mini-series is showing on Sunday evenings. It is titled “The Bible”. It will be shown in five episodes, two hours long each. I’m pretty excited about it.

Being able to read the bible is wonderful. Being able to see it is amazing. The first episode has already been aired at the writing of this article, and it was wonderful. Did it include everything I would have included if I had made the show? No! But I didn’t make the show. Is it a great conversation piece for those who are less exposed to what the bible says? Yes!

We need to be people of the word. The people who were considered as noble people in the New Testament, the Bereans, were considered as such because they searched the scriptures to verify the truth.

We Christians claim to know the truth, but many of us can’t even name the 66 books of the bible. How familiar are you to the stories therein? If I asked you what the book of Zephaniah was about, would you know? Do you take what the preachers say at face value, or do you search the scripture to verify their truth claims?

I encourage everyone who hears me teach to verify what I teach. I want to be held accountable to the word of God. It’s not my word I claim to teach, it’s His, and I want to be true to it.

This week, I want to encourage you to get in the word. If you’re watching “The Bible” read the scriptures that coincide with the stories and see what else they didn’t have time to put in their series. There is so much more.

If you’d like to see the series but don’t want to watch it alone or don’t have cable or dish, then you’re welcome to come watch it with us at the Aztec church of Christ. Whatever you do, be in the Word – God’s Word.

I’d love to pray for you and talk to you more about the saving message of Jesus found in the bible. If you’d like to talk, feel free to call me at the office at 505-334-6626 or email me at mrjdobbs@gmail.com. Blessings be yours as you dive into the greatest story ever told.


Who’s The Real Youth Minister Here?

Today, I’d like to tell you a little bit about me.

I grew up attending non-instrumental churches of Christ.  My Great Grandfather was a song leader.  My Grandfather was a song leader.  My mother would have been a song leader, but she grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, and she was the wrong gender for that at the time.

I have been involved with the churches of Christ since before i was born.

Growing up, my parents were very involved in the local congregation, and when I’d visit my grandpa, he’d have me up on stage leading singing with him.  When I got into 3rd grade we moved to West Monroe, Louisiana where I lived until I graduated High School.  We attended the same church from that point on, and my parents were very involved.  There was hardly an event that we weren’t a part of.  I used to joke about being in the building every time the doors were open.

When I got into the youth group, they kept being involved.  They helped plan and volunteer for various activities.  They did more than encourage me to be involved.  I loved being a part of my youth group growing up.  But, you know why I was excited about youth group?  It wasn’t because I had a great youth minister (which I did). It was because from birth it was instilled into me that church was a central part of our life  My primary youth ministers were my parents.

Looking back on that now, I see how valuable they were in forming me into the man of God I am today.  I cannot thank them enough for investing into God and His church so that I would one day follow in their footsteps.

Now, I’m a youth minister.  My sister sings on the worship team for the church we grew up in, and my brother is actively involved in several outreach ministries.  I’d say they were a success.

“How does that relate to me?” You may ask.

If you are a parent, you are the single largest influence in your child’s life.  You have the power to inspire greatness or defeat into that young person.  You have the power to mold and shape them into followers of God or selfish, entitled agnostics.  You influence them.  What you are involved in and excited about rubs off on them directly and effectively.  What you are apathetic about also influences them.

You are the youth ministers.  This is for parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles.  This is for brothers and sisters and cousins.  This is for kids.  You have the power to influence your family around you.

If you are a part of a church that has a youth minister, you have a great resource there.  But his job is only to supplement what you are doing at home.  If the kids in churches are only getting Jesus on Sunday morning and Wednesday night, then they are anorexic Christians at best. The scriptures say “Train up a child in the way he should go…” The scriptures do not say “Let someone else train up your child…”

Youth ministers are a great tool, and they are useful to help facilitate and teach the youths of today.  The trends of the churches to this point have been to create Youth Minister Centered Youth Ministries.  It’s time to change the trend back to Family-Centered Youth Ministries.

May you be the Spiritual leaders in your home.  May you lead your children by example.  And may these children grow to be pillars of the Church for generations to come.

If there’s anything I can do for you or pray with you about, please feel free to contact me at my office at 245-1611 or via email at jddobbs@verizon.net.  God bless you all as you regain your role as the real Youth Ministers.


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