East Side Church
(Baptist - Disciples of Christ)
201 Spruce Ave.
Sharon, PA 16146
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July 13, 2014
"Commitment to the ABC and DOC"
Romans 10:9-15

Intro: Series on being a member of East Side church. Good introduction for some, good reminder for others. Membership involves four commitments, (circles.) First is our commitment to Christ: B efore you become a member of East Side Church, you should make sure you have committed your life to Jesus. Next commitment is to universal church: If you love Jesus, you'll love His people, wherever you find them! Next week, we'll discuss our commitment to our local church, East Side. Today, discussing commitment to two denominations w/which our church is affiliated: ABC and DOC.

A Brief History of the American Baptist Churches, USA!

According to the Baptist World Alliance, there are 232 different types of Baptist denominations in the world, (but that's only Baptists that agreed to join their organization!) Where did Baptists come from? First Baptist churches began among English Christians opposed to the established Anglican Church. These "Baptists" tried to base their beliefs and church government on the Bible alone, instead of tradition. Baptists arrived in America when Roger Williams established the first Baptist church in Providence, Rhode Island! Over the next two hundred years, Baptist churches grew, despite ongoing splits.

A few important events in American Baptist history include: In 1814, American Baptists formed the Triennial Convention for the purpose of foreign missions. The purpose of this convention was expanded three years later to include home missions and education. The Baptists of the northern and southern U.S. formally divided over the issue of slavery in 1845. The Northern Baptists later changed their name to the "American Baptist Churches of the U.S.A." Throughout their history, American Baptists have avoided forming a denominational unity based on theology. Rather, they developed a pragmatic "associational" relationship among the churches: While local congregations voluntarily associate with the denomination, they do not submit to the denominational hierarchy. Every two years, there is a convention, in which delegates from every ABC church can vote on important issues confronting the denomination.

What do American Baptists believe?

American Baptists can be theologically conservative, moderate, or liberal. Despite their differences, American Baptists usually affirm the following distinctives: B elievers' Baptism (Mark 16:16) - no infant baptism, baptism is for believers only! A utonomy of the Local Church - congregational, democratic, and self-governing. P riesthood of all believers- (Hebrews 10:19-22) - every Christian has access to God; every Christian has the responsibility to minister to others! T he freedom of the conscience - every Christian has the right & responsibility to freely determine their beliefs based on the Bible, and to worship where they want to. I mmersion - Proper mode of baptism; fully "dunked" in water, not sprinkled or poured! S eparation of Church and State - The government should have no power over where a person worships. T he Regenerate - (John 3:3) - People should not become members of a local church until they know they are born again, converted to saving faith in Jesus Christ. S upreme Authority of the Scriptures - (2 Timothy 3:16-17) - The Bible has the final say on what Christians believe and do.

Our church's relationship to the American Baptist Churches looks like this:

Local church --> Association --> Region --> Denomination
East Side Church of Sharon Beaver Association ABC of Pennsylvania & Delaware American Baptist Churches

Application: The churches affiliated with the ABC decided to unite together, not on a theological basis, but on a pragmatic, missionary basis. But downplaying what Christians should believe, and emphasizing only what we do, (like missionary activity) makes for unstable Christianity. Besides, missionary work necessarily involves telling people what they need to believe about Jesus! (Read Romans 10:9-15.)

A Brief History of the Disciples of Christ!

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) grew out of two movements seeking Christian unity that sprang up almost simultaneously in western Pennsylvania and Kentucky - movements that were backlashes against the rigid denominationalism of the early 1800s. Thomas and Alexander Campbell, a Presbyterian Scotch-Irish immigrant father and son in Pennsylvania, rebelled against the dogmatic sectarianism that kept members of different denominations - and even factions within the same denomination - from partaking of the Lord's Supper together. At the same time, Barton W. Stone, a fifth-generation American in Kentucky and also a Presbyterian, objected to the use of creeds as tests of "fellowship" within the church, which were a cause of disunity, especially at the Lord's Table. The aims and practices of the two groups were similar, and the Campbell and Stone movements united in 1832 after about a quarter of a century of separate development.

The founders of the Christian Church hoped to restore Christian unity by returning to New Testament faith and practices. But the church found that even this led to division. One group which opposed practices not specifically authorized by the New Testament, such as instrumental music in the church and organized missionary activity, gradually pulled away. That group finally was listed separately in the 1906 federal religious census as the "Churches of Christ." Another group began a separation in 1926 over what it felt were too-liberal policies on the mission field in the practice of baptism. More than 40 years later (1967-69) some 3,000 of those congregations formally withdrew at the time of Disciples restructure. They refer to themselves as the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ. But the DOC's history has not only been about division: In 1989, the Disciples and the United Church of Christ declared an ecumenical partnership. In addition, the Disciples have approximately 270 international church partners in close to 70 countries.

What do Disciples of Christ believe?

Disciples of Christ can be theologically conservative, moderate, or liberal. Despite their differences, they usually affirm the Preamble to the Design of the DOC : As members of the Christian Church, we confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and proclaim him Lord and Savior of the world. In Christ's name and by his grace we accept our mission of witness and service to all people. We rejoice in God, maker of heaven and earth, and in God's covenant of love which binds us to God and to one another. Through baptism into Christ we enter into newness of life and are made one with the whole people of God. In the communion of the Holy Spirit we are joined together in discipleship and in obedience to Christ. At the Table of the Lord we celebrate with thanksgiving the saving acts and presence of Christ. Within the universal church we receive the gift of ministry and the light of scripture. In the bonds of Christian faith we yield ourselves to God that we may serve the One whose kingdom has no end. Blessing, glory, and honor be to God forever. Amen.

The Structure of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Our church's relationship to the DOC looks like this:

Congregational -->      Regional -->      General Church -->
East Side Church of Sharon      Pennsylvania Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Application: The churches affiliated with the DOC united together, not on a theological basis, but out of a pragmatic desire to make sure anyone who said they believed in Jesus could take communion. But downplaying what Christians should believe, and emphasizing only what we do, (like taking communion,) makes for unstable Christianity! Besides, taking communion necessarily involves "proclaiming the Lord's death until He comes" (I Corinthians 11:26), and these are two things that Christians believe about Jesus!

How does East Side interact with these two denominations?

We have opportunities to participate and attend the denominations' regional and national assemblies to vote on important issues. We have opportunities to attend and participate in the denominations' conferences and camps, to learn, work and worship together. We have opportunities to support the denominations' missionary efforts by collecting special offerings. We enjoy visits from denominational representatives.

Application: We affirm the DOC's desire for Christian unity, and stress the importance of communion. We affirm the ABC's willingness to work together for missionary outreach. We do need to be aware, though, that both the ABC and the DOC have a history of downplaying the necessity for clear Christian doctrine based on the Bible. They may feel they have their reasons. But downplaying what Christians should believe, and emphasizing only what we should do, (whether it is partnering in Christian missions, or seeking unity, or taking communion,) makes for unstable Christianity! Part of becoming a member of East Side Church involves a commitment to these two denominations. And the biggest responsibility we have toward these two groups is to pray for them. Pray that the people within these denominations will begin to humble themselves and listen to the Spirit of God speaking through the Word of God.

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© East Side Church, 2013