Thanks for reading our “frequently asked questions.” These are the questions people ask us, along with a few that you might want to know about anyway. If you don’t have a Bible in e-format, you can click here for online access to a free complete Bible in several different language translations.
1. “What is your church’s plan? What are you trying to accomplish?”
Our basic approach is simple: we want to know God’s heart and do whatever He wants to do for people. Within the way this church works, there’s room for many different kinds of activity to accomplish this.
We’ve built our “big-picture” vision from the overall flow of the Good News found throughout the Bible. Everything about us starts with God, who He is, what His heart is all about:
purpose for us
is to know Him and be loved by Him,
and to show how good He is
by sharing His love with all kinds of people.
Jesus continues His ministry in us
as we follow Him and make disciples who
nurture each other, and
spread the Good News of God’s victory
over the power of sin, over our failure, and over death.
In Jesus Christ God is making a new world,
and everyone who wants to join Him is welcome.
The short form for all this is “Walking in God’s love … and giving it away.”
Generally speaking, what you see and hear among us will reflect these directions. The other articles on this site, and the audio teaching files, will give you a clearer idea of what all that means to us. And of course, getting acquainted with us personally is the best way to find out what we mean by what we say.
2. “What kind of church are you? What is your denominational affiliation?”
We are a non-denominational church – that is, we are “autonomous.” We associate with an informal, world-wide fellowship called Churches of Christ. Churches of Christ are a grass-roots unity movement among Christians, with roots in a variety of traditions: early ecumenical revivalists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists. This fellowship has no headquarters, no formal organization, no formal creed or written statement of faith. We do things in this primitive style in order to follow Jesus Christ as the New Testament Christians did – to be simply Christians, nothing more or less.
In our regular church life we emphasize following Christ, rather than focusing on the “distinctives” of our church network. Our members are also connected with the wider Christian community, and blessed in many ways – shared friendships, shared schools, shared activities, shared learning. Our members and friends come from a variety of different backgrounds and traditions. Christ meets us all where we are. We’re learning from Him together.
3. “Where do you get your teachings and practices?”
We study the Bible. We believe that in the Old Testament God has given us an accurate record of His plans, His personality, His dealings with people, etc. In the New Testament we learn more about God’s plans and His heart, and we find specific information we need to follow Jesus in our daily lives and to work as a church. We have no other authoritative documents or persons.
Over the past 1900 years many well-intentioned people have worked very hard to study the Bible and to live faithfully in challenging times, and in general they have blessed us all greatly. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to those who came before us. Along the way sometimes religious traditions have altered the shape of the ancient faith of following Jesus. Our aim is to learn from the good things others have learned through the ages, which are consistent with Biblical teaching. However, we really want to avoid traditions that are out of step with what God shows us in the Bible. Since we don’t “know it all,” either, we’re constantly studying in order to improve our grasp of what the Bible really says, and of what God wants to do with us.
To summarize: God is our final authority. We believe that He has expressed Himself authoritatively in the Bible, and we strive to use responsible methods to understand His words and apply them to our lives.
4. “How can I become a member of the South Burnaby Church of Christ?”
Come meet with us and get to know us. Talk with our elders, and let’s get acquainted.
Everyone is welcome to attend our assemblies and activities, whether or not you’ve made a formal commitment to being a member here. Becoming a recognized member here strengthens our sense of being connected with each other, and tells us that we can rely on each other for support and encouragement. It opens the door to greater involvement and various kinds of leadership. “Membership” isn’t “mandatory,” but we recommend it!
5. “Who leads this church?”
Ideally, Jesus Himself does, since He is the Head of the Church and His Spirit lives in us. He does this through many different leaders, doing different things. In an important way, every member is a “minister,” because anyone here can serve other people and do what Jesus would do for them. In our Sunday assemblies – as well as our other activities – many different people take public roles of leading, speaking, helping, serving.
In practical New Testament terms, though, we have 3 groups of leaders:
Elders are mature leaders formally recognized by the church, who care for the spiritual well-being of members of the church. They provide nurture, support, counsel and prayer, and are generally “shepherds” caring for us.
Deacons are formally recognized leaders who work in specific tasks: Assembly ministry, which plans our Sunday assemblies; Education ministry, taking care of our Sunday Bible classes and other related activities; Missions ministry, keeping us aware of and involved with churches in other countries; Facility ministry, caring for our building and grounds; and Finances. Events Coordination and Special Care ministries are delegated to regularly changing teams of members who wish to serve.
Evangelists or ministers are full-time paid workers with the church. They provide teaching and preaching, and help build a “sense of direction.” They have special tasks of helping people become Christians and helping to equip them to serve others.
We’re grateful for the contributions of our members: men, women, and children – who use their talents to help the rest of us serve God, love each other, and reach out to others. At various times groups of our members have served the homeless in “Nightshift Ministries,” Sudanese and Swahili-speaking immigrants, Korean and Chinese-speaking immigrants, ministries for young women and newly married couples, annual short-term mission trips to other countries, and longer-term missions, and other activities.
No. All of these organizations are quite different from us, and none of them have organizational ties with us. The name “church of Christ” is our simple, deliberately “generic” way of saying that we want simply to be Christians, not to be followers of any human tradition or organization. The heart of our church life is to follow Christ as the earliest Christians did. We will always be learning and growing, but this is the direction where we believe God leads us.
You’re welcome to contact us with any further questions or comments.