The DOC, Part 1
Those of you who know me well will not be shocked to hear that I have not traditionally been a fan of denominations. This attitude has arisen primarily from my belief that there is only one church, with Christ as its head, and that denominations invent ways to create rifts between groups of believers. While this is not universally true, there is no shortage of instances where it has been the case.
Now, as the pastor of Mountair Christian Church, I find myself willingly jumping into a denomination. That’s something I certainly didn’t see coming. At first I was apprehensive about joining myself to the type of entity I have typically avoided like my dad and rush-hour traffic in Chicago, but in recent months I have become agreeable, then comfortable, and now even excited about the idea. The change stems from two things–the unbelievable way I find I line up with the written expressions and beliefs of the Disciples of Christ, and their understanding of the purpose of a denomination. Here’s a sampling of what I mean.
Me and the DOC
As I continue to delve into the origins and fundamental identity of the DOC, I discover how much I fit here. I read the basic formulations of faith and unconsciously nod my head in agreement. The preamble to the Design for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)is beautiful. It is not just a nice statement, but a pronouncement for worship. Their desire for the unity of the one church based on Christ (however well it has worked or not) dispels one of my greatest reasons for not liking denominations. Their commitment to Christ as our Lord and Savior above all else is the primary thing I believe is necessary for deep discipleship. Here are few quotations from the DOC’s basic book, People of the Chalice (I know, catchy title).
- DOC churches, “center upon living in the company of Christ. They see all who profess faith in the Lordship of Christ and earnestly seek to follow him as one with them.” 13
- One of the founders of the DOC, while pastoring a denominational church, “We will, that this body die, be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large; for there is but one Body, and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling.” 14
- “Within the whole family of God on earth, the church appears wherever believers in Jesus Christ are gathered in his name. Transcending all barriers within the human family such as race and culture, the church manifests itself in ordered communities of disciples bound together for worship, for fellowship and for service, and in varied structures for mission, witness and mutual discipline, and for the nurture and renewal of its members. The nature of the church, given by Christ, remains constant through the generations; yet in faithfulness to its mission it continues to adapt its structures to the needs and patterns of a changing world. All dominion in the church belongs to Jesus Christ, its Lord and head, and any exercise of authority in the church on earth stands under his judgment.” 20
This is getting long, so I’m going to break the second part off into another post.