09:00 AM - Lord's Supper
10:30 AM - Preaching of the Gospel
07:00 PM - Prayer Meeting
07:00 PM - Bible Study
There are several groups that use this name in their title. We're not historically related to any of them other than the unity we have with all those who are believers in Christ Jesus our Lord. Some of the groups that use this name are: Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Mennonite Brethren, Moravian Brethren, Unity of the Brethren, Polish Brethren, Church of the Lutheran Brethren, etc.
The so-called “Christian Brethren,” of which we are part, is a movement within the universal Body of Christ. It is not a denomination. As matter of fact, most believers in this movement don't like having the name “Christian Brethren” in a denominational sense, or any other name that creates division within the body of Christ.
In some places, the Christian Brethren are sometimes called “Plymouth Brethren.” This is because in the early days of this movement, there was a church in Plymouth, England that grew very fast and was extremely large. It became well-known and for a while the entire movement was named after that church.
In spite of the resistance within the movement regarding names of groups that can contribute to division in the universal Church of our Lord, it was people outside the movement that gave them this name. They called them “brethren” (equivalent to modern-day words 'Christian “Siblings”') because they often heard members call each other “brother” or “sister.” This common bond and outward expression of familial love impressed the world and so was coined the term “Christian Brethren” which survives to this day.
In the early 1800's, there was much dissatisfaction among Christians around the world with the way things were in churches. The Bible was interpreted figuratively in all churches, making the Scriptures difficult to understand. Many church denominations were very exclusive, forbidding a Christian from a different denomination from taking the Lord's Supper in their church.
Many groups of people around the world, unaware of each other, began to meet in homes and other locations to study the Bible and celebrate the Lord's Supper, permitting all who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior to participate.
By the second decade of the 1800's many of these groups began to become aware of other groups doing the same thing. Before the end of the eighteen twenties, the many groups around the world became recognizable as a single movement – a movement by the Holy Spirit. Today, the “Christian Brethren” are found in almost every country, and in several countries they are the largest Evangelical group.
“Christian Brethren” are Evangelical. We agree with all the basic tenets of the faith that other Evangelicals hold to, such as:
Alongside these essentials of the faith, the “Christian Brethren” hold to some New Testament principles that have come to distinguish them from within the Evangelicals. Here they are:
This is a principle that is believed by almost all Evangelical groups. The difference is how it is put into practice. The “Christian Brethren” take this New Testament principle seriously. They actively encourage all to discover their gifts and offer opportunities within the church for everyone to exercise their gifts.
One meeting in which this is most visible is the Lord's Supper. At this meeting, the floor is open to any believing man who wishes to share from the Bible, request a song or lead in prayer, or to ask the blessing for the elements on the table – bread and wine.
The principle of the “Priesthood of All Believers” has aided the Christian Brethren in fast growth and expansion around the world, especially in missions. Any brother can start a new church or baptize new believers, etc. One does not need to be ordained or rise up through any religious hierarchy.
This has also contributed to the quality Bible teaching and ministry training in “Christian Brethren” circles. Because of the principle of the “Priesthood of All Believers,” among other things, the Christian Brethren are very strong in their teaching and training from the Scriptures.
Since the “Christian Brethren” began as a reaction to denominationalism, their belief in the autonomy of each local church is very resolute. Each church is directly responsible to the Lord Jesus Christ. Period. History has shown that denominationalism, and other forms of centralized religious control, has helped spread theological liberalism and other problematic issues. By promoting autonomy – under Christ – one local church's doctrinal errors do not affect the function and convictions of another local church.
The New Testament certainly seems to show that each local church was autonomous from all others. Denominationalism is usually tied to man-made hierarchies and human policies that can stifle a church's spiritual progress as well as spread extra-biblical concepts faster.
Early in the start of the “Christian Brethren” movement, several truths were rediscovered that had been lost during the Medieval Ages. One of them is plurality of leadership. In the New Testament, it is evident that each church had several leaders, not just one.
Each of the elders in a local church function with complete equality in authority, but may have different functions. This balance of power was important enough that the Apostle John rebukes Diotrephes for wanting to have preeminence in the church (3rd John 9).
All elders are considered to be “pastors” (shepherds). In the New Testament, the word “pastor” itself always occurs in the plural except when referring to Christ Himself or when used in a collective sense.
Each autonomous church is under the authority of the Lord who is the “Head of the Church.” Christ Jesus is the true Pastor (Shepherd) of each local church. This principle is important because it means that the other pastors/elders are really just sub-shepherds of our Lord Jesus.
“Christian Brethren” maintain the symbol of Christ's Headship, as found in the teaching from 1st Corinthians 11, which is about the ladies' headcovering. In this chapter, we read that “the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man” (v. 3). During meetings, men wear nothing on their heads since their heads represent the glory of Christ, and women wear a headcovering because their heads represent the men's glory. In church meetings only Christ's glory should be seen (vv. 7,10). To demonstrate that the Bride is under His authority (headship), women wear a head-covering during local church meetings.
As with the symbols at the Lord's Supper, the practice of the symbols of Headship is an act of voluntary worship and only has meaning to those who understand it and believe in it.
This practice was common in all Evangelical groups until just a few decades ago. Today most of those same groups have abandoned this symbol. So-called “Christian Brethren” maintain the practice of this symbol in their meetings because they understand that the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ is the issue.
Not long ago all Evangelicals practiced the weekly Lord's Supper. Little by little, many denominational churches abandoned this practice, and today it is rare to celebrate the Lord's Supper every Sonday. The “Christian Brethren” have faithfully maintained this practice, following the example of the Early church as seen in Acts 20:7 and Romans 16:2.
For the “Christian Brethren,” a weekly Lord's Supper is important for several reasons: (a) the Lord commanded us to remember Him often, (b) it renders more efficient self-examination prior to the Lord's Supper when one only needs to review a week in one's heart, instead of a month or a year, (c) the New Testament indicates that the early church practiced the Lord's Supper on a weekly basis, (d) the Lord's Supper is the only meeting that focuses exclusively on Him, while other meetings concentrate on believers' edification or on evangelism. The most important Person in the church is the Lord Jesus, so for the “Christian Brethren,” the Lord's Supper is the most important meeting.