Overview

The Community Church Movement originates in the early twentieth century as a highly evangelical attempt at realizing practical ecumenism: groups of Christians who leave denominationalism and engage in non-denominational Christianity. The movement attempts to support community churches in many locations. Community churches are difficult to characterize, since each congregation represents a different dynamic and perhaps different doctrinal emphases. Regardless, while community churches are “nondenominational,” the doctrines espoused tend to be consistent with conflated denominational teachings.

Sections on this Page

Origins and History

The earliest origins of the community church movement are likely from the nineteenth century and the practical concerns of many small American communities: there were not enough members of individual denominations to each have a congregation, and many times such Protestants would come together to establish a community church of sorts.

The community church movement began in the early twentieth century alongside ecumenism and represented an attempt to aspire to the ideal of that movement: Christians, mostly Protestant and Evangelical, coming out of denominations and being unified in a community church concept.

Community churches are now quite popular, and they exist in almost every community in America.

Denominations Involved

Since the community church movement is, generically, a marriage of evangelicalism and ecumenism, community churches strive to be either nondenominational or even postdenominational. Regardless, most of its members come either from the world or the “evangelical” denominations, and doctrine follows accordingly.

There is a body, the International Council of Community Churches that represents an organization of various community churches, but by no means is every community church affiliated with that council.

General Considerations

Since community churches are extremely diverse, it is impossible to make entirely accurate characterizations of any individual congregation. The list below represents a likely range of doctrines consistent with community churches.

Part I

Lutheranism: Faith Alone; The Lord’s Prayer

Calvinism: TULIP

Baptists: Once Saved, Always Saved

Wesleyanism: The Church and Social Responsibility

Plymouth Brethren: Dispensationalism; Premillennialism

Part II

Evangelicalism
Ecumenism
Fundamentalism
Emergism

Part III

Baptism: Infant Baptism and “Original Sin”; Baptism is Immersion; Baptism is for Remission of Sin and is Necessary for Salvation

The Church Treasury, I: Benevolence:
Church Benevolence to Non-Saints
;
The Missionary Society

The Church Treasury, II: Other Considerations: Hospitals; Centers of Education; Kitchens/Fellowship Halls; Gymnasiums; Business Enterprises

Concerning Observances:
Observances Concerning the Lord’s Birth: Advent; Christmas
Observances Concerning the Lord’s Death: Palm Sunday; Maundy Thursday; Good Friday; Easter

Creeds: The Apostles’ Creed; The Nicene Creed

Instrumental Music

Judaic Practices: The Ten Commandments and the “Moral Law”; Tithing

The Lord’s Supper: The Bread and the Fruit of the Vine; When Should the Lord’s Supper Be Observed? Part A: Weekly

Positions of Authority: Who is the Pastor?; Female Deacons [Deaconesses]; Female Evangelists; Ordination; Synods, Councils, Conventions, and Other Meetings

Return to Movements

Return to A Study of Denominations

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