As a newcomer to Dalton it did not take long to notice that the city takes pride in its schools. “We are D” signs were everywhere, and still are, for that matter. That simple sign lets everyone, friend or stranger, know the loyalties of that resident as an alumnus, parent of a current student(s) or both. Can the same be said for churches?
There was a time when the name on the church sign was sufficient to explain who you were and what you believed. Times have changed to the point that the name on the sign may not quite help people understand who you are and what you believe. The world we live in is filled with contradictory messages that compete for your attention. This includes many contradictory religious messages. You may have driven by our building and noticed our sign and passed by with preconceived notions about who we are as a body. In an effort to cut through much of the white noise, here is a sample of who we are and what we believe.
When you drive down North Tibbs Road in Dalton the name you read on the sign is Central Church of Christ. An apt description beyond the name would be “Simply Christian.” Churches of Christ throughout the world exist as single, autonomous churches. Although we believe and teach many of the same things and cooperate with one another, there is no central governing body handing down policy that may or may not fit our local community. We interpret the New Testament letters of Peter and Paul as referring to autonomous bodies meeting in their various locales who followed the Apostle’s Doctrine (Acts 2:42). In 1 Corinthians 4:17, Paul pointed out that he taught the same things to people wherever he traveled so every church he established followed the same teachings.
The idea of “Simply Christian” means that we practice only those things we find examples of in the New Testament. It means that neither I nor any other minister would ask you to believe something that we could not point to in its scriptural context. For instance, we believe in the simple idea of the gospel as Paul preached it to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, as the good news of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins.
Another brief example of this is found in Acts 20:7 where Paul met with the church in Troas on the first day of the week (Sunday). We meet on the first day of the week because that was the day the early church met to remember the Lord’s resurrection.
Continuing with Acts 20:7, we come together for worship to “break bread” as Jesus did with his disciples, Luke 22:19, 20. The Lord’s Supper remembrance is so important we do it each Lord’s Day. Again, Paul preached to the church at that assembly, and in keeping with this and other examples we hold a time of Bible preaching but we promise not to keep you until midnight.
The appeal to you, dear reader, is to rely on the Word of God instead of the name on a sign. God revealed himself through his word, the Holy Bible, communicating in simple language to reach out to everyone and bring them to him (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). If I can assist you in any way as you search the Scriptures for a closer relationship with Jesus Christ please contact me at Central Church of Christ at (706) 278-8051.
Bryan Collins is minister of the Central Church of Christ, Dalton