What Is the First Church of Christ and What Do They Believe?
Every Sunday morning, a group gathers in 3 different locations where the First Church of Christ campuses are situated. They sing, pray and listen to a sermon under Pastor Darin Marinte. In many ways, this church may seem like any other religious organization. But not so many people are aware of its existence. For starters, the name is uncommon except if you’ve come across the Christian Science church using the same name. So what is the First Church of Christ, and what do they believe?
What is the history of the First Church of Christ?
The First Church of Christ was founded in 1964 in Florence, Alabama, Kentucky. With the permission of the Mayor, the first 11 members of the church utilized a firehouse basement as their meeting place. Soon the church outgrew the space, and after two years of joining hands to build a new sanctuary, the church was erected. Since then, membership has grown from 300 in 1974 to more than 2,500 attendees at weekly services in Burlington, Southgate, and Walton.
Who founded the First Church of Christ?
Wally Rendel was the founder of the First Church of Christ. He grew up in Miami, Oklahoma, but it was when he was 17 that he started preaching. Later, Rendel helped Wayne Smith start Southern Acres Christian Church to serve for 34 years as Founding Pastor. But more recently, in 2012, he moved to Nicholasville to be part of Jessamine Christian Church, where he retired after 58 years of faithful service and ministerial leadership.
What are the beliefs and doctrines of the First Church of Christ?
An official written statement of faith is available on their website. Although not an exhaustive list, the First Church of Christ beliefs are:
God, who is one, revealed himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As the creator of all things, His absolute sovereignty extends to every corner of life. Sustenance, protection, and judgment are among His most intimate and personal acts.
2. Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the divine Savior who was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross as an atonement for sin, and arose from the dead. By grace, he offers forgiveness and salvation to all who believe in him (John 3:16).
3. The Bible
The Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, is inspired by God and is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice. God’s self-revelation to humanity has been given to us through human writers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).
4. The Holy Spirit
God’s grace to empower Christians for ministry manifests itself in their lives in the form of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16). The overwhelming characteristic of this power is strength and wisdom, just as Jesus promised (John 14:26).
5. The Church
The Church of Jesus Christ is the body of believers made up of all who have accepted Jesus as their Savior and followed him as Lord (Matthew 28:19-20). So, First Church is an independent church representing a local congregation whose spiritual needs are met by elders.
How does the First Church of Christ differ from other Christian denominations?
While they share a common faith and a desire to draw people to Jesus Christ, the First Church of Christ differs from other Christian churches because they are non-denominational. Unlike most churches, they do not officially associate with a larger group. Doctrinal differences aside, First Church espouses the true spirit of Christianity through multi-campus worship services and outreach ministry activities. Primarily through their independent status, they are free to conduct their ministries as they choose; witness to the love of Jesus Christ; and bring healing, hope, and freedom to people who have lost all hope.
What is the organizational structure of the First Church of Christ?
From the organizational structure of the First Church of Christ, one can see that it operates on a hierarchical basis. The highest positions in the church are the Lead Pastor and Elders. Each campus church is presided over by a Campus Pastor. To coordinate all the campuses, there’s a central services team with a director and various pastors. A support staff provides the necessary services for day-to-day operations, like housekeeping, reception, facility maintenance, and administrative support.
What is the role of the pastor or minister in the First Church of Christ?
In the First Church of Christ, pastors lead the local congregation and have divine authority. Their role is one of preeminence, importance, and responsibility. The pastor’s responsibility is three-fold: to preach the Word, shepherd the flock, and watch for souls.
How does the First Church of Christ conduct worship services?
There are three worship services in the First Church of Christ: Sunday, mid-week, and special. Sunday services are available every Sunday at 9:30 am. Mid-week service is held on Thursday at 6:30 pm, and Unified service for people with special needs is held every 3rd Sunday of the month.
What is the significance of baptism in the First Church of Christ?
Baptism is the outward sign (water immersion) by which believers are initiated into the First Church. The visible statement of their newfound faith is the sign of a new life in Christ (Ephesians 4:5). As a sacred religious ceremony, baptism signifies our adoption in Christ and that we are His disciples (John 1:12).
How does the First Church of Christ view the Bible?
As God’s sacred and inspired Word, the Bible is for believers’ instruction, reproof, and correction (2 Timothy 3:16). It is God’s revelation of Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As such, every Word and phrase found in the Bible should be taken seriously as God’s instruction and the foundation of our faith.
What is the role of the congregation in the First Church of Christ?
The congregation of the First Church of Christ is a group of people who identify with the teachings and programs of the church. Each member is also accountable to God; thus, they must bring their gifts and talents to help further the Christian cause (Romans 12:4-6). They are expected to give time and effort in the various ministries by serving locally in ministries and volunteering for overseas missions.
What are the sacraments or ordinances observed by the First Church of Christ?
Besides baptism, there are other sacraments and ordinances that the First Church of Christ observes, like the Holy Communion, attending Christian church services, and prayer. Holy Communion is the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. It is a memorial of the giving of Christ, a sacrifice for sin, and an ordinance of church fellowship (1 Corinthians 11:20-22).
How does the First Church of Christ view the role of women in the church?
First Church of Christ welcomes and encourages women to serve in ministry. However, every woman must submit herself to her husband and eldership in the church, as the church submits to Christ (Ephesians 5:22-25). Although it may seem like women have a limited leadership role in the church, the Bible shows that First Church women are blessed to do much for Christ (Romans 16:1-2; 2 Timothy 1:5) by participating in mission and mentoring groups, prayer circles, and offering visitors and members of the church hospitality.
What is the stance of the First Church of Christ on social and political issues?
The First Church of Christ does not take a position on political issues. However, they believe that as Christian citizens, believers should be aware of their social responsibilities and participate actively in public affairs. For instance, First Church took part in the “Unified Cincy Prayer Walk” in 2020 to plead for racial justice in downtown Cincinnati, along with over 50 other churches in the area.