Who do we say that we are? Identity is a vital concern for all parts of the church. Many long time Disciples worry that we may be losing crucial characteristics of our common life. New Disciples want to know about the distinctive gifts of this community of faith. All of us need to have clarity about who we are in order to be faithful and effective witnesses to Jesus Christ.
A church’s identity must be firmly rooted in scripture and yet flexible enough to adapt to changes in culture and the shifting demands of mission. Early Christians in Jerusalem had to learn what it meant to be faithful in Antioch and Rome. Our Disciples forebears, as they moved from the frontier to the city, had to rethink such matters as congregational autonomy and the goal of “restoring” the New Testament church. Today, we wrestle with what it means to be disciples of our Lord in a world that is increasingly pluralistic, globally connected, and yet so often violently divided.
And so, we
STATEMENT OF IDENTITY
|We are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. As part of the one body of Christ, we welcome all to the Lord’s Table as God has welcomed us.|
MARKS OF IDENTITY
- We confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, requiring nothing more — and nothing less — as a basis of our life together.
- We hold the centrality of scripture, recognizing that each person has the freedom — and the responsibility — to study God’s Word within the community of the church.
- We practice the baptism of believers, stressing that the way of Christ is costly, while also recognizing the baptism performed in other churches.
- We structure our community around the biblical idea of covenant, emphasizing not obedience to human authority but accountability to one another because of our shared obedience to Christ.
- We gather as often as possible for the Lord’s Supper, experiencing at this table — open to all who believe — the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit.
- We participate in God’s mission for the world, working with partners to heal brokenness, reconcile divisions, and bring justice to the whole human family.
- We hear a special calling to make visible the unity of all Christians, proclaiming that in our diversity we belong to one another because we commonly belong to Christ.
- We witness to the Gospel of God’s saving love for the world in Jesus Christ, while continuing to struggle with how God’s love may be known to others in different ways.
- We affirm the priesthood of all believers, rejoicing in the gifts of the Spirit — including the gift of leadership — that God has given for the common good.
- We celebrate the diversity of our common life, recognizing our different histories, styles of worship, and forms of service.
- We give thanks that each local congregation, where Christ is present through faith, is truly the church, affirming as well that God’s church and God’s mission stretch from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth.
- We anticipate God’s coming reign, seeking to serve the One whose loving dominion has no end.