Church sign offers outsiders a taste of ‘pre-denominational Christianity’

CLINTON, Ill. (BNc) — Gospel preacher Stephen R. Bradd shared a picture of the congregation‘s new sign today with an explanation of why they found it significant.

“We changed one of our assembly times recently and got the sign redone to reflect that. At the same time, we made some other improvements in: (1) getting my name off the sign (an unnecessary tradition in my view), (2) putting the focus on the church as people instead of a building, and (3) giving people something to think about—”Pre-Denominational Christianity.” I saw that phrase recently for the first time via Ben Giselbach and like it a lot!” Stephen said.

When a Facebook friend asked the meaning of the phrase, Stephen gave what he called a “short answer.”

“We try to go back to the New Testament and use it alone as our standard of authority today for Christian life and worship. Believers in the first century were not Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc. They were simply Christians; nothing more and nothing less. That’s the way we think it should still be (note 1 Corinthians 1:10-13),” Stephen said.

stephen-bradd“Our aim in life and worship is to peel back centuries of man-made traditions and opinions and just follow the New Testament of Jesus Christ and it alone. This is what early Christians did BEFORE (pre) they started DIVIDING (starting denominations),” he explained.

Stephen took advantage of the moment to offer a Bible study.

The Sunday evening time change to 1 pm “really helps some families that drive 30 and 40 minutes one-way,” Stephen said.

The church shares a Sunday fellowship meal in between once a month. Stephen said they have already noticed increased fellowship among the saints thanks to the time change.

Stephen teaches the Bible on AudioEvangelism.com.

Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren. He likes to read novels in his back-porch hammock. http://randal.us

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12 Comments

  1. JWheatley

    I am curious as to the reason for the early afternoon second service. I thought one reason for an evening service was so that people who work Sunday mornings could attend Sunday night. A 1:00 service wouldn’t be of any help to those people.

  2. Bill Medart

    I am also curious as to the reasoning behind the 1:00 service. This is not sufficient time between morning and evening services to go home for lunch on the Sundays other than the fellowship meal period. Those that I know that have to work on Sunday morning do not get off or close until 12:00n so this puts them in a bind also.

  3. Jim Gammon

    This idea should be considered by all congregations committed to standing in the Old Paths — provided our assemblies and lives reflect actions worthy of that commitment.

  4. We have our afternoon services at 1:30 at Lincoln Church of Christ in Huntsville Alabama for 4 or 5 years. Love it and almost all members do. Love the sign. God bless your work

  5. Ted Mitchel

    I like the phrase “pre-denominational Christianity!” As for the 1:00 PM service, if it works for the local congregation, the traditional reasons for an evening service really don’t matter. In recent years, I have seen more congregations moving their Sunday evening assemblies to earlier times. Usually it is due to travel distances or older folks who don’t function well at night.

  6. Thanks for posting this, Randal! Regarding those who may have questions about the 1 PM time, all I can say is that it works well for our current group of about 40 people. We’ll leave it at 1 PM until there is a need to change it. We don’t have anyone in the congregation currently who is required to work during the AM assembly time. But we were losing some in the evening because of distance to travel. That issue has been resolved. We wrap up by 11:05 AM each Sunday. Even those who visit till 11:20 have 90 minutes to get a bite to eat at home or in a restaurant, which is plenty of time in our small town–with a little planning. My wife does a great job with this. She will often put a roast in the oven around 8:30 AM at a low temperature and it is ready to eat around 11:30. We love having people into our home (e.g., we squeezed in 7 guests + our 7 last Sunday). A great time for all!.There’s not a ton of down time, but it’s sufficient when the drive to the church building is less than 5 min. Anyway, thanks to all for your interest & encouragement! Grace & peace.

  7. Doug Young

    By distinguishing itself through use of a proper name, a church actually denominationalizes itself. It’s that secondary definition that is ignored.

  8. Jo Byrd Huddleston

    God bless you Stephen for having the courage to promote non and pre-denominational Christianity! Sooo glad to read about this small congregation doing what I personally have wished all congregations of the Lord’s Church would do! Too many people, especially who have been raised in denominations, think of the building as the “church”, when the NT clearly defines it as people in Christ. I recall reading several years ago, about a missionary in Italy who would put a different Bible description of the church on the door or out front, each Lord’s Day: “Church of Christ meets here”, “Church of the First Born”, “Church of God”, “Kingdom of God”, “The Lord’s Body”…all ended with “meets here”. Catholic priests were so intrigued that some came to the Bible classes and eventually gave up false doctrine and became New Testament Christians 🙂

  9. Jo Byrd Huddleston

    Stephen, I also want to praise your wife for putting the roast on early, so you and she can invite guests to come and eat lunch with you. We used to do this every Sunday in the “old days”, but have mostly gotten away from this generous, hospitable practice.
    Randall, thanks so much for reporting on this congregation and these folks.:)

  10. Bob Patterson

    Denominations are differentiated by having an identified “source,” often a headquarters who determine their staff and what they teach. Yet, of the 500 churches listed in the Yellow Pages, many have new names on their doors; they teach various ideas, distinguishing themselves. Little unity persists among the groups. If you want to know their teachings, ask the pastor. In Romans 16:16, Paul’s addressing the “churches of Christ” did not define a proper name; he recognized that Christians meeting worldwide are churches that belong to Christ. The denominational world was yet to form. Our history places the need for local identity to enhance unity without sacrificing Biblical teachings. This is far from becoming a “denomination.” Jo has told about Italy. In Israel, there is a goup who posts “The Way,” and they maintain unity among the brethren, (It is a state regulation.) Often, letterheads, read cofC, (little c) to downplay the idea of being a denomination. What is important is their teachings and fellowship. The result? Among the “CofCs” there is very little variance; they believe “Back to the Bible” and practice it. Recently, the church in Crete, having studied their Bibles, changed their name to CofC, and baptized all members. Think of the Churches of Christ as New Testament Christians. 🙂

  11. The notion of pre-denominationalism is an astute observation. I wish I had noticed it! It might be the answer we are looking for to refute the notion that the Lord’s church is just another denomination.

  12. I have opinions concerning Sunday night assemblies, but I’ll keep them to myself. I did want to let Steven know that I am thrilled the Clinton congregation is meeting and doing well. I actually attended the dedication of the building a LONG time ago. I also learned a great deal about song leading from one of the Clinton members…at camp…again a long time ago.

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