Why Do People Leave the Church of Christ?

The Church of Christ is a conservative, Protestant, Christian denomination that started in America. It has 2,000,000 members and 40,000 churches worldwide. Many people are pleased to attend Churches of Christ every Sunday. However, just as in other denominations, some leave and never return.

People leave the Church of Christ because of disillusionment with the moral failures of certain leaders, disappointment with the denomination’s position on social issues, and disagreement with certain aspects of the tradition’s theology, like the belief that a person must be baptized to be saved.

Have pastors in the Church of Christ denomination been in the news for committing crimes? What social issues most concern those who leave the Church of Christ denomination? What unique beliefs does the Church of Christ have about baptism? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

Also see Why Do People Leave the Assemblies of God? to learn more.

Church of Christ
Sometimes Church of Christ leaders are guilty of moral failures

Disillusionment over moral failures in leadership

The Church of Christ denomination isn’t immune to moral failures among its ministry leaders. Senior pastors, associate staff, and youth and worship pastors, unfortunately, give in to sin and temptation, just as leaders in other traditions do.

This discourages many members, some of whom question their commitment to the tradition as a result.

Though the Church of Christ hasn’t experienced widespread attention for its moral failures, like the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention have, a simple internet search shows that there have been leaders in the denomination that have not upheld the moral standards they claim to serve.

Especially when these failures are broadcast on television and on the internet, some people no longer want to associate with the denomination because of shame and embarrassment.

Also see Why Did Protestants Leave the Catholic Church? to learn more.

Church of Christ denomination
Some members disagree with the denomination about homosexuality

Disappointment with social issues like homosexuality

As seen in many other Christian denominations, Churches of Christ have experienced the impact of changing social values. People who have left the tradition because of social issues have wanted to see the denomination change with society rather than resist it.

Some who have left the denomination over social issues disagree with the denomination’s positions on LGBTQ and transgender issues. Most people that are members of the Church of Christ believe that homosexual behavior and transgender identity are sinful, but a small number believe differently.

The vast majority of Church of Christ members are politically and socially conservative. There are more Republicans and Democrats in the tradition, but Democrats tend to be socially conservative.

“According to the Pew Research Center in 2016, 50% of adherents of the churches of Christ identify as Republican or lean Republican, 39% identify as Democratic or lean Democratic and 11% have no preference.” [1]

People who leave Churches of Christ over social issues either attend liberal and progressive churches, or more likely, they stop attending church completely.

Also see 100 Largest Denominations in America to learn more.

Church of Christ
What does the Church of Christ believe about water baptism? See below

Disagreement over water baptism

Sometimes people leave the Church of Christ over its unique theological positions. While the beliefs of Churches of Christ have many similarities with other Christian denominations, they also have key differences, such as what they believe about baptism and salvation.

The denomination’s beliefs about salvation include:

  1. One must be properly taught, and hear (Romans 10:14–17)
  2. One must believe or have faith (Hebrews 11:6, Mark 16:16)
  3. One must repent, which means turning from one’s former lifestyle and choosing God’s ways (Acts 17:30)
  4. One must confess belief that Jesus is the son of God (Acts 8:36–37)
  5. One must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38)
  6. One must live faithfully as a Christian (1 Peter 2:9)

On their website, the connection between baptism and salvation is most clearly explained in response to the question of how to become a member of a Church of Christ:

Be baptized for the remission of sins. ‘And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:38).” [2]

No other major Protestant Christian denomination, including “Baptists,” believe that the Bible teaches this doctrine. Therefore, a person can leave a Church of Christ and find another church that teaches essentially the same core convictions of the Christian faith, but without the unique beliefs of water baptism.

Also see Catholic vs Protestant vs Eastern Orthodox Compared to learn more.

What does the Church of Christ believe?

People may also leave the Church of Christ because of disagreement over other doctrinal matters.

What is the distinctive plea of the Church of Christ? “It is primarily a plea for religious unity based upon the Bible. In a divided religious world it is believed that the Bible is the only possible common denominator upon which most, if not all, of the God-fearing people of the land can unite.”

What does the Church of Christ believe about the Bible? “The original autographs of the sixty six books which make up the Bible are considered to have been divinely inspired, by which it is meant that they are infallible and authoritative.”

Does the Church of Christ Believe in predestination? “Only in the sense that God predestines the righteous to be eternally saved and the unrighteous to be eternally lost… God did not predestine individuals to be eternally saved or lost, but that each man determines his own destiny.”

What kind of music is used in worship? “As a result of the distinctive plea of the church – a return to New Testament Faith and practice – acappella singing is the only music used in the worship. This singing, unaccompanied by mechanical instruments of music, conforms to the music used in the apostolic church and for several centuries thereafter (Ephesians 5:19).”

Does the Church of Christ believe in heaven and hell? “Yes. The statement of Christ in Matthew 25, and elsewhere, are taken at face value. It is believed that after death each man must come before God in judgment and that he will be judged according to the deeds done while he lived (Hebrews 9:27). After judgment is pronounced he will spend eternity either in heaven or hell.”

How often is the Lord’s Supper eaten? “It is expected that every member of the church will assemble for worship on each Lord’s day. A central part of the worship is the eating of the Lord’s supper (Acts 20:7). Unless providentially hindered, each member considers this weekly appointment as binding. In many instances, as in the case of illness, the Lord’s supper is carried to those who are hindered from attending the worship.”

Why does the Church of Christ baptize only by immersion? “The word baptize comes from the Greek word ‘baptizo’ and literally means, ‘to dip, to immerse, to plunge.’ In addition to the literal meaning of the word, immersion is practiced because it was the practice of the church in apostolic times. Still further, only immersion conforms to the description of baptisms as given by the apostle Paul in Romans 6:3-5 where he speaks of it as a burial and resurrection.”

Also see Christianity vs Mormonism: Comparison to learn more.

[1] Source
[2] Source

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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