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 -->
East Side Church of Sharon
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
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
The Structure of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Our church's relationship to the DOC looks like this:
General Church -->
East Side Church of Sharon
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.