The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has to be one of the most confusing names ever for a denomination. Well, it is descriptive of who we are, but even people who have lived in the Kansas City area their whole lives have no idea that we have 70 churches in the area. Sure, people have heard of the Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians and Episcopalians, but The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)? Doesn’t ring a bell.
The reason for the unusual name is that we were founded by two men in the early 1800s who were each leading a separate movement toward a common goal. They both wanted to “restore” the church of Jesus Christ to a unified body of believers, not a bunch of denominations. An early motto was “Unity is our polar star.” Their names were Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone, and the movement was known as the Restoration Movement. Campbell referred to his people as “Disciples” and Stone called his “Christians”. They believed that churches shouldn’t have a long list of rules and tests for people to join. If people declared that Jesus Christ was their Lord and Savior, that was all they needed to be baptized and take communion. In other words, from the very beginning, freedom to explore theological issues was part of the fabric of the Disciples.
So how did a movement that started out as an attempt to unite denominations become just another denomination itself? Good question. It’s a long story. But the followers of Campbell and the followers of Stone were never able to agree on a name for themselves (so much for unity!). When the various churches of the movement finally had no choice but to declare themselves a denomination, the name they came up with was the long and confusing one we have now. Most of our churches simply use “Christian Church” in their name. Since we were founded on the American frontier by rugged individualists, you’ll find that our churches still maintain strong individual personalities. As the saying goes, “If you’ve seen one Disciples church, you’ve seen one Disciples church.” (Okay, it’s not a saying. Pastor Laura just made it up. But it should be a saying.)
If you would like more information about our denomination, we suggest you check out Discover the Disciples.
About the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) logo
The Chalice, or communion cup, points to the central place that communion has in every worship service. The sideways “X” is the Cross of St. Andrew because tradition says that Andrew was crucified on a sideways cross. Andrew is known for evangelism, for introducing his brother Peter to Jesus. His cross is the national cross of Scotland, reminding us that our roots come from the Scottish Presbyterian Church. The color red signifies vitality, spirit and sacrifice.