What Kind of Church is This?
So what kind of Church are you?
One day I went to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread. As I stood in the aisle I was overwhelmed by the massive amount of choices that were available to me. Wheat, white, rye, pumpernickel, gluten-free, split-top, sour-dough, honey-wheat, whole grain...the list goes on.
For something that is supposed to be a simple house-hold staple, there sure seems to be a lot of choices.
Many people who are looking for a church often feel the same way. Catholic or Protestant? Traditional or modern? Reformed or evangelical? And even when the choice is narrowed down, there are still thousands of denominations to choose from. Something as simple as worshiping Jesus has turned into a headache.
While I enjoy having so many choices of bread, when it comes to my relationship with God all of the choices can become distracting from what's really important.
At ACC, we choose to do things a little bit different. Instead of chasing the endless rabbit hole of denominations, and deciding which traditions we want to follow, and which creeds we want to hold to, we decided to sweep all of that stuff off of the table and start from scratch. Our goal is to create a sense of Christian unity based on the things that every Christian in the world has in common.
Bread, at the very basic level, is made of flour and water. The other things you add to it are fine, but without those two ingredients it can't be called bread. Likewise, Christianity is made up of, at the very basic level, faith in Jesus and the belief that the Bible is the word of God.
Surely you might be thinking, "But what about the trinity? What about the Christian creeds? What about the Church, and the doctrines of salvation, and the sacraments/ordinances, and all of those other things that make up Christianity?"
The simple answer is the fact that all of those things come from Jesus and the Bible. Every single one of them. And the core beliefs, the ones that really make or break us, those all come directly from the mouth of Jesus, and are given to us in the New Testament. Instead of chasing down creeds and sacraments and traditions, we've decided simply to go straight to the source.
That's why we have the name we have. We want you to know where we are, (Alliance, Nebraska), who we are, (Christian) and what we are (Christ's Church).
The one true Church?
So then what about all of those other Churches? Do we think we are the only true Church? Absolutely not. While we'd truly love it if you came and worshiped with us, we don't believe that any of those other Churches are not part of God's kingdom. As long as they have the main components, they're still Christians.
Frankly, we believe that the "one true church" is the one that we read about in the Bible. We think it's sad that Jesus' Church has been split and divided and fractured over the past 2,000 years, but we're not giving up on the prayer that Jesus prayed for us:
“My prayer is not for them alone.
I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,
that all of them may be one, Father,
just as you are in me and I am in you.
May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
So what makes you different?
We set out to use the Bible as our only guide. Sometimes that means we disagree with other Churches. Other times that means we are in total agreement. When these issues come up, we try to avoid appealing to our own traditions and reasoning. Instead, we are constantly going back to the Bible for the answer. We don't have authorities, councils, statements of faith, or official doctrines. Just the Bible.
If the Bible is clear about a teaching, that's what we teach. If a verse is unclear, we try to understand it in light of the entire Bible, not just a couple of cherry-picked verses.
And if the Bible doesn't talk about something, then we don't try to institute man-made rules about it. We simply speak where the Bible speaks, and are silent where the Bible is silent.
What if I don't agree with everything you teach?
That's OK. Because we don't set the rules, the Bible does. When I preach my sermons, I offer a blanket invitation for anyone to disagree with me. I'll even let you come and find me after Church to tell me what you thought was wrong. We don't believe that the minister has any closer of a relationship with God than any other Christian. But (and this is a big but) that open invitation comes with an expectation to bring an open Bible. We don't want to talk about what we feel is right. We'd rather go straight to the source.
At the end of the day, we might not agree. That's OK. You're still welcome here. As long as we're both searching for the answers in God's word. We try to foster a culture of unity in essentials, liberty in opinions, and love in all things.
If you'd like to see what those essentials are, click here.