My wife and I went on a date to read and hang out at Barnes and Noble last Friday night. While there, I was reading the Bible, and a man from the table next to us asked me where I went to church. I explained I was from Austin and was just here visiting. We then talked for up near two hours about all kinds of things, and he invited me to come to the church he attended, and mentioned it was an orthodox Church of Christ church. The few things he said about it were intriguing, so I decided to check it out.
It was small. Very small. There were only about 10 people there total. The people were very friendly and welcoming. There was no one person in charge. No pastor. They call consider themselves as equals, and any man who wanted to give a message could do so. The music was simple, and they had no instruments. Just voices singing out of a hymnal. The message was simple and unpolished. Communion is taken every week, and is very specifically done with unleavened bread, broken by each member, and the wine/juice is taken with one cup (no individual plastic mini-cups). It was nice. I felt as if I were just a part of a small family get-together meeting for a purpose.
I was invited to lunch afterwards with 3 of the men. We did the small talk thing for a while, and then I started asking questions. Ultimately, they really want to try hard to follow all the clues found in the New Testament as to the way to do church, and they feel very strongly about some of these things. I’m sure I could have a longer list of things, but through our lunch discussion, this is what I learned:
- Women are not allowed to speak during the service (1 Corinthians 14:34).
- Instruments for music are not allowed (Ephesians 5:19). One of the men went so far as to say it was a sin to use any instrumentation of any kind other than the voice.
- Communion requires the use of only one cup. When Jesus talks about “the cup”, it is assumed he and the apostles just used one cup. One of the men mentioned that the physical aspect, and the spiritual aspects of communion are linked. If you change the physical, it will change the spiritual. Being that it is “communion” and sharing is a big part of that, how would you be sharing by having separate cups? I asked him this question: “There are thousands and thousands of churches today taking communion with individual cups. Is there communion then meaningless?” He said yes.
- There is no one pastor or speaker. Any man who wants to share a message may do so. Speaking up during the service is also encouraged if any man has a question or something they want to share.
So, while I definitely like some aspects of what I saw and learned about, I dislike others. That’s no surprise, because pretty much any church will be like that. But, it’s a little more pronounced here, especially with the instruments and the communion beliefs. What are your thoughts on these things, or any other interesting beliefs of orthodox Church of Christ churches?