What is the Restoration Movement and why is WCCC a nondenominational church?
The church began on Pentecost around the year A.D. 30 when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and Peter preached the first gospel sermon that Jesus was both Lord and Christ. In response to Peter’s message, the people asked, “What shall we do?” And “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:37-38). Three thousand people repented and were baptized and subsequently formed the church (See Acts 2). The early church, as revealed throughout the New Testament, met regularly for preaching and instruction based on Jesus’ teachings, communion together remembering Christ’s sacrifice, singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, for prayer and to collect an offering for the needs of the body of Christ.
Each local body of believers in the early church had its own leaders (elders & deacons) as described in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1. They also enjoyed congregational autonomy which meant that each local church was free to make decisions for their church under the leadership of the elders. Unfortunately as the history of the church moved forward, the church failed to live up to the standard of the church presented in the New Testament and it underwent many changes. For instance, over time hierarchical structures developed which removed decision-making authority away from the local church. Ecumenical or universal councils were called to make decisions and fashion creeds that were forced upon all churches in various geographic locations and diverse cultural contexts. In the Middle Ages (500-1500), church and state (government) entanglements resulted in corruption both for the church and the state. A great reform effort began in the mid-sixteenth century led by Martin Luther which would later be known as the Protestant Reformation. The goal of the Protestant Reformation was to free the church to follow the scripture alone and yet, many Protestant theologians simply formed new creeds to enforce new theological understandings. This led to a splintering of the church as many new reform efforts formed their own denominations based on specific creedal statements.
In the early American frontier, around the year 1800, a number of Christian leaders desired to solely get back to the practices and identity of the original apostolic church found in the book of Acts. Their desire was to restore the church back to the original model found in the New Testament. Eventually a number of these reform efforts united to form the Restoration Movement or as it is also called, The Stone-Campbell Movement. The early leaders or founders of this Movement were Barton W. Stone, Thomas Campbell, Alexander Campbell and Walter Scott. The Restoration Movement is founded on twin ideals: the unity of believers in the Body of Christ and the authority of the New Testament as the sole source of the teachings and practices of the church. The churches affiliated with this Movement also shared other common characteristics including:
Congregational autonomy with no denominational hierarchy or authority over and above the local church;
A strong emphasis on evangelism and the preaching of the gospel;
Faith in Christ and obedience to Him were all that were necessary to become a Christian;
Baptism is by immersion for the remission of sins of someone old enough to express faith in Christ;
Communion was practiced every time the church gathered which was at least weekly;
Followers of Christ were called “Christians” only and not known by any denominational name.
Whitewater Crossing Christian Church, formerly Westwood-Cheviot Church of Christ, was founded in 1916 in the tradition of the Restoration Movement. As such, our church today still holds to the principles and values discovered in the New Testament and passed down through the generations from the early leaders of the Movement.
While Christian Churches affiliated with the Restoration Movement are often called “independent,” this is misleading, for great fellowship, communication and collaboration exists among Christian Churches. Christian Churches work together locally, nationally and internationally on common evangelistic projects, benevolent ministries, missionary work and other parachurch organizations. Participation in these efforts are voluntary as each local church retains the authority to determine its scope of involvement.
Overall, the Restoration Movement has more than 5,500 local churches with a total membership of well over a million members. The Movement supports over 1,000 missionaries serving on six continents. The Movement has two main conventions which meet annually for fellowship, preaching and sharing; they are the North American Christian Convention and the National Missionary Convention. Many other agencies, church camps, benevolent ministries, publishers, radio & internet ministries exist within the Restoration Movement as well. All those who are part of this Movement are striving to achieve the unity of believers that Jesus prayed for in John chapter 17 while holding firmly to the truth of God’s Word alone to guide His church.
Approved by the elders 6.5.10