Who We Are

HASTINGS CHURCH OF CHRIST: OUR IDENTITY
 
These things are characteristic of Churches of Christ in America, and are the essential identity of the Hastings Church of Christ: 

Jesus Christ. We try always to make our worship, teaching, and preaching Christ-centered. Churches can lose sight of Christ and put their central emphasis elsewhere—on doctrines, creeds, and traditions, on buildings, on money and status and other things that help build the institution. We are not institution-builders, but Christ-followers.
 
The Bible. We emphasize the Bible as the only reliable authority for Christian faith. We try to let the Scriptures form all of our thinking and practice. I always preach Bible and try always to make sure my topic is important and touches our lives in some clear way.
 
Nondenominational Christianity. We share America's growing skepticism toward organized religion. There's too much religious corruption. We want to convert people not to a religion, but to Jesus. We believe the best way to be true followers of Christ is to be undenominational, generic Christians as in the New Testament. We want to be a church family, not a religious denomination.
 
Congregational independence and the priesthood of all believers. We have no governing body outside the local church; each congregation runs itself. That's how church organization was done in the New Testament: simply, locally, and independently. We make no distinction between clergy and laity; the New Testament says that all Christians are saints and priests of God. We think that highly institutionalized churches with big superstructures and professionalized clergy depart from the New Testament pattern, and that power, wealth, and status tend to corrupt churches.
 
Believers' baptism. We baptize by immersion when people choose Jesus as their Lord, so it's people who know what they're doing. We don't baptize infants because we don't think they need it, and because we think people need to repent and be converted when they come to Christ—which means they need to be old enough to understand the decision they're making and take personal ownership of their faith. We want people to be converted, not simply coopted into the church's rolls.
 
The Lord's Supper. We believe that the death and resurrection of Christ on our behalf is the center of the Christian Gospel, so we commemorate it in a communion service every Sunday, as did the church in the New Testament.
 
A cappella singing. We use no musical instruments in worship, so we encourage everyone to sing. Our people tend to take personal ownership of worship in song, so many of us sing well.
 
Male leadership of Christian worship. We believe that healthy churches raise up godly men. Godly women are the heart of the church, but the public leadership of the early church's worship was male, so we try to follow that example and the Biblical texts that explain it.
 
Informality and spontaneity. We have no liturgy or ritual; we don't chant memorized prayers, etc. The public prayers or the talks at the Lord's Supper are down-to-earth, unscripted, and usually from the heart. This promotes spiritual growth in those who lead in worship.
 
These are our general characteristics. Every local congregation is unique because of its unique mix of people, so ours is too. I've been preaching in this congregation for six years, and I can say that there is very much good among us. The people are generous and kind, warm and loving, the atmosphere is healthy, the worship is sincere and encouraging, and—so I hope—the teaching and preaching are full of Bible and of life-giving, Christ-centered truth. People looking for a warm and nurturing church home can find one with us.
 
—Russ Dudrey, 9/21/13