Our Place in the Christian Church
Our family within the larger Christian Church is the Brethren in Christ, a denomination headquartered in Pennsylvania.
It’s a great group to be a part of. Our affiliation with them enables us to have a larger participation in missions, be a part of camps and conferences we couldn’t put on for ourselves, find help from outside our selves when we need it (like during a pastoral transition), tap into collective wisdom , and have a special tie with a group of believers around the world. Our denomination is considered a “connectional organization.” This means that the local congregation has significant freedom to do church as we sense the Holy Spirit’s direction, while retaining connection with a larger group of churches for things that can be done better collectively.
We have elements of all three of the major models of running a church: As in the presbyterian model, we have a group of elders who lead the way in seeking the Lord’s purposes. As in the congregational model those elders are accountable to the congregation, acting as a whole. As in the episcopalian model, we have a bishop who gives us wise counsel from outside our situation, ties us together with other churches and helps us is difficult circumstances.
One of the great things about our denomination, is that the denomination is not the most important thing! Jesus is! Nor do we think we have a corner on what God is doing—we work with many other churches and Christian organizations around the world. We desire to join hands and hearts with Jesus followers of all stripes.
For the church historians:
Historically, we have our roots in four movements of the Christian Church. Each of these groups of people, in their own times and places and differing situations were trying to move back closer to a Biblical understanding of the church:
- the Anabaptists, or “Radical Reformers” of the 1500s who believed that the church ought to be different from the world and the Bible should guide all of life,
- the Pietists of the 1600s and 1700s, who were desperate not to lose warm, personal, authentic relationship with God in the midst of forms and traditions,
- the American Wesleyan Holiness movement of the 1800s, who understood that God didn’t just change our position with Him, but wanted to radically change our actual, where-the-rubber-meets-the-road, daily lives to reflect the beauty of His holiness, and lastly,
- the Evangelicals who stressed two things above all others: the necessity of personal commitment to Jesus as Savior, and, the sufficiency of God’s Word, the Bible, for salvation.