FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Adapted from “The Congregational Christian Way of Life” by the Rev. Phil.Jackson, M.Div.
Q. Who is the head of the Congregational Christian Church?
A. The right of every individual to have immediate access to God is one of the fundamental precepts of Congregationalism. Our adherents believe that Jesus Christ alone is the head of His Church; that His Holy Spirit can speak directly to and can act through each member and each congregation without the benefit of bishops, hierarchies, or presbyteries. A church exists based on the teachings of Jesus from Matthew 18:20, "for where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them."
Q. Do Congregational Christians believe in the divinity of Jesus?
A. A Congregational Christian believes in God as revealed in the life and teachings of Jesus.
God is one whose unity is often expressed in the Trinitarian formula of the early Church
- God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. The unity of Christendom is not established, but
rather recognized, and the unity to be sought is a oneness with Christ.
Q. Does “free church” mean Congregational Christians are free to believe whatever they want?
A. Congregationalism provides a free and simple way to salvation but it has never been known to be easy or cheap. The freedom offered is not to be construed as freedom to do or to believe whatever one wishes, but rather as the opportunity to be the kind of person God intended one to be.
Congregational Christians believe that the human soul is eternal and that our human destiny lies in the choices we make and in our participation in the building of the kingdom of God.
The apostle Paul states that one who adheres to the Christian faith looks upon the Church universal as the mystical Body of Christ, of which Christ is the Head.
Q. What Sacraments are observed by the church?
A. Most Congregational Christian churches observe two sacraments - Baptism and the Lord's
Supper. You will also find that most of our member churches practice what is called
“open communion" which means that all who love Jesus Christ and seek forgiveness for their sins, are welcome to the Lord's table. Like many other Christian bodies, Congregational Christian Churches practice at least three traditional rites - funerals and memorial services, marriages, and Confirmation.
Q. How does one become a member?
A. Although this is not always the case, upon recommendation of a Board of Deacons, a person may be publicly received at a regular Church service in one of three ways: by confession of faith (if the person is uniting with a Church for the first time); by reaffirmation of faith if they were a member of another congregation but without a letter of transfer; or by letter of transfer from another church.
In uniting with a Congregational Church, the individual makes a declaration of faith, acknowledging Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The seal of this promise is the covenant by which a local congregation binds itself together.
The new member accepts responsibility by faithfully attending and participating in worship services, by sharing in the ministries and missions of the local Church, and by contributing regularly to the financial support of the Church. Naturally, he/she will be expected to pray for the church and for others and to conduct a personal life in keeping with Christ's teachings.
Q. What does it mean to be “gathered by covenant”?
A. Members speak of their own local Congregational Church as the "gathered" church, made up of individual Christians in a given geographical area assembled by Christ through their common love for Him. This is a covenantal relationship-that of Christians bound together, not by law, but freely and in a mutually agreeable bond of love, as in the following historical covenant: “We covenant with the Lord, and one with another, and do bind ourselves in the presence of God, to walk together in all God's ways, as the Almighty is pleased to reveal the word of truth to us (Salem Covenant of 1629)."
Congregationalism derives its name from the prominence it gives to its local body of Christian believers. Each church or congregation is a self-governing unit, with duties and responsibilities shared equally by all members.
These self-governing Churches work together in local, state and national associations; meeting for fellowship and for consideration of matters of general interest and common responsibility. Such associations, however, have no jurisdiction over the individual Churches or their members. Their greatest blessing is the shared knowledge that they can do much more together in the Spirit of Christian love than they can alone.