ABOUT US

FOREWORD

This page is intended to give a brief description of the Apostolic Christian Church. It tells of the church's origins, presents a short summary of its doctrine, gives its understanding of God's marvelous plan of salvation, and explains certain aspects of its worship.
Often, as various people come in contact with the Apostolic Christian Church they become interested in many aspects of its beliefs and practices. The church, by diligently applying New Testament standards to everyday life and worship and also by practicing a deep reverence toward God, draws questions concerning its literal interpretation of Scriptures.

It is hoped that those who read this page will have many of their questions answered. However, all who are interested are encouraged to attend an Apostolic Christian assembly and learn by observation and hearing what is the true heartbeat of this body of Christians.
Salvation through Jesus Christ is man's greatest treasure. The Apostolic Christian Church seeks to do its utmost to help explain this marvelous gift from God, and prays diligently that others also will turn to God in true repentance, experience peace with God and man, and the gift of eternal life.

I. DESCRIPTION

The Apostolic Christian Church believes in and promotes the doctrines of the gospel found in the Bible. It seeks to follow the standards of holiness set forth in the Holy Scriptures.
The church consists of approximately eighty congregations in twenty states. This includes two small churches in Canada and two in Japan. The total number of members is approximately 11,000. Children and unbaptized adults (called "friends of the truth") constitute another 9,000. Thus, about 20,000 persons attend the Apostolic Christian Church.

The church conducts worship services on many college campuses in several states in order to teach the Holy Scriptures to persons attending universities.

The church is also engaged in many activities to benefit mankind. These pursuits are all done in the name of Christ. An organization called World Relief personally collects both finances and material aid for distribution to persons in need on a world-wide basis. It also makes distributions through a variety of approved organizations.
A national Missionary Committee has been established to follow through on opportunities to spread God's Word. An organization called Work Projects exists to help administer charitable efforts, whereby individual brethren join work teams on special projects to aid the needy and oppressed.

Thousands of Scriptures are distributed annually through Apostolic Christian Bible distribution. In recent years efforts to spread God's Word in this manner have increased sharply. Annual disbursements have quadrupled in the recent past.

The church operates ten nursing homes for the elderly in five states. Included in this work are nearly two hundred apartment units for elderly persons not requiring specialized care. Also, the church operates a beautiful and modern Home for the Handicapped in Morton, Illinois and a spacious and pleasant Children's Home in Leo, Indiana. These facilities provide physical, emotional, and spiritual support for handicapped persons and needy children. Also, a preschool program is operated at Athens, Alabama.

While the church is engaged in a multitude of charitable activities to help the poor and needy, its most accurate description rests in its devotion to the Word of God and its ongoing commitment to the glorious cause of Christ. Its major intent is to preach, teach, and live the gospel of Christ so that others also will hear and respond affirmatively to this message of salvation-and someday, by God's marvelous grace, enter into the portal of heaven.

II. ORIGIN

The church was founded in the early 1830's by Samuel Froehlich, a young seminary student in Switzerland, who had experienced a Biblical conversion. Feeling led of God, he began preaching the simple truths of the Bible. Ultimately, some 110 congregations were formed in thirty-five years in several European countries.

Froehlich's intent was to organize a church based on a literal interpretation of God's Word. He emphasized the verse, ..... teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (Matt. 28:20). The church, while recognizing Froehlich's work, gives God the glory for all these accomplishments.

Froehlich was a scholarly and energetic preacher who, against great odds and many disappointments, powerfully conveyed the message of salvation. He was also skillful in persuasion, especially in personal visits, and in this way drew many to the Bible's pattern of repentance. His attitudes and Biblical understandings were shaped, in part, by the radical reformers of the sixteenth century known as Anabaptists whose doctrinal motto was "Sola Scriptura." This meant that Scriptures alone constituted the only true foundation for doctrine and life-and they were to be followed. The church has continued over the years to follow diligently New Testament teachings, and to regard the entire Word as infallible and inerrant.
The Anabaptists were the first reformers of sixteenth century Europe to teach and practice adult baptism or "believer's baptism" as opposed to infant baptism. Froehlich, too, instituted the practice of adult baptism in his churches. In Europe, the church was known as Evangelical Baptist. It later became known as Apostolic Christian in America. This name was chosen because the church follows the teachings of Christ and the Apostles.

The Apostolic Christian Church found a presence in America in 1847, when a church was organized in Lewis County, New York. The site was in the Croghan-Naumburg area. Another church was formed a year later at Sardis, Ohio, in that state's southeastern area.
From this beginning in America the church grew, primarily in the fertile farming areas of the midwest. As immigrants came from Europe (mostly from the Froehlich churches) and new converts were added in the United States, the church flourished. Early ministers, groomed and inspired by Froehlich in Europe, were zealous in preaching the Word in America.

From the 1920's on, most of the new churches formed in America were founded in metropolitan areas. This was because many of the church's offspring sought occupational opportunities in areas other than farming. Thus, today the Apostolic Christian Church consists of a blend of city and rural churches. While most of the larger churches still exist in rural towns and villages (there are a few exceptions), it is interesting to note the presence today of Apostolic Christian churches in large cities-such as Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Portland, Sarasota, Ft. Lauderdale, Detroit, Phoenix, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and Indianapolis.

III. DOCTRINE

The doctrine of the church is based on a literal interpretation of the Bible which is recognized as God-inspired, infallible, and inerrant. New Testament teachings are carefully followed and counsel and advice are sought from examples found in the Old Testament.
It is believed that salvation is obtained by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. True faith embodies the component of obedience which instructs a soul to do as the Lord Jesus emphatically taught, "Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4:17). The Biblical pattern of repentance is observed which includes godly sorrow (2 Cor. 7:10) for a past sinful life, confession of sins, (Matt. 3:6, Acts 19:18), restitution for past wrongs (Matt. 5:23, 24) and becoming dead to sin (1 Peter 2:24). The wonderful and matchless grace of God is given to those who are humble in heart (James 4:6), along with peace and forgiveness from God.

Following conversion, a growth in Christian graces, and manifesting the fruit of the Spirit, the new convert then gives a testimony of his or her faith and conversion experience to the congregation. This is followed by water baptism by immersion. (Matt. 3:13-17). Baptism symbolizes the burial of the old sinful nature into the death of Christ, and the subsequent rising of a soul out of the baptismal waters as a new creature in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:3-4). This is followed by the laying on of hands whereby a church Elder prays over the new member as the official confirmation of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer's heart (Acts 8:17-19).

The new member is thus formally united with the church, which is Christ's body. He is expected to fully embrace the doctrinal and lifestyle standards of the church which are based on God's Word. A life of peace and joy follows as one pursues the pathways of Biblical holiness and sanctification. Despite trials, and potential sorrow and temptation, God's grace is sufficient for humble hearts to receive happiness and contentment (1 Tim. 6:6) in the expectation of heaven-if they are true and faithful until life's end. Self-denial (Matt. 16:24), separation from sin and unfruitful works (2 Cor. 6:14-18), nonconformity to worldliness (Rom. 12:2) are integral parts of the Christian walk of life.

IV. LIFESTYLE

As a new creature in Christ, a believer devotes himself to a life of zeal, commitment, and growth in understanding God's Word. He strives to be not only a "hearer" of the Word, but a "doer" of the Word as well. Consequently, his lifestyle is designed to follow the patterns found in the Bible. These are often at variance with contemporary ways which the believer must resist.

The Scripture forms the foundation for one's lifestyle. Because the Word is infallible and without error, its messages and commandments are followed by the church. The Bible's standards are not optional. All of its teachings are "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16). All of its teachings are essential for godly living. A true believer shuns the modern tendency to divide the Word into "essentials" and "non-essentials," feeling that to categorize a part of God's Word as nonessential is to elevate one's self above God.
Lifestyle centers around the motives of (1) becoming more Christlike, (2) redeeming the time, and (3) doing those things that bear fruit to the glory of God and our Saviour.

The life of a true Christian reflects the Light (i.e., the virtue and holiness of Christ) in everyday discipleship. The light of Christ is observable, both inwardly and outwardly. Inward holiness is comprised of the fruit of the Spirit-love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Gal. 5:22-23). Outward holiness is distinguished by restraint, discretion, and moderation in attire. Costly array (1 Tim. 2:9) and conformity to fancy and ridiculous styles in clothing are avoided. (Rom. 12:2). Gender distinction in attire and in general appearance is according to God's will. For women, outward piety is reflected by a chaste, non-sensual appearance. (1 Peter 3:2). Long hair gathered in a modest style, together with the absence of cosmetic enhancements and jewelry, are reflective of an inner holiness and humility (1 Tim. 2:9, 1 Cor. 11:15). Men, too, maintain an outward demeanor that is consistent with the themes of sobriety and discretion. Long hair is avoided. A clean-cut, respectful appearance reflects a heart that is full of spiritual sincerity and seriousness. Men eschew loud and sporty attire.

V. WORSHIP

The worship service in the Apostolic Christian churches reflects the brethren's special reverence for God and for Christ. A special attitude toward the omnipotence (Rev. 19:6) and holiness (Psm. 99:5-9) of God is demonstrated in many ways.

All aspects of worship are intended to draw worshippers nearer to God and to deepen human appreciation of His ways. Thus, all worship procedures (i.e., reading Scriptures, preaching, singing, and praying) are intended to give God, not man, supreme recognition and to glorify His name.For instance, the church follows the Bible's ideal in sermon presentation. The Apostle Paul was explicit in stating that he did not preach to his churches "with excellency of speech or of wisdom" (1 Cor. 2:1) and that "my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. " (1 Cor. 2:4). Rather, he determined to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). Thus, ministers are not trained in man's knowledge at seminaries or Bible colleges, and worldly knowledge is not deemed important. The church feels strongly that one's faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (1 Cor. 2:5). If preaching was done with wisdom of words, "the cross should be made of none effect" (1 Cor. 1:17).Ministers are chosen from among the congregations and serve open-ended terms. They are men of good report, with a good understanding of and fidelity to Scriptures, and are loyal in supporting the doctrines of the church. They serve without salaried compensation. More than one minister serves a church, the average being three to five.

Ministers do not select Scriptural texts or prepare sermon outlines before the worship service (on special occasions such as weddings, funerals, or holidays they may choose an appropriate Bible text). Instead, ministers and Elders pray and meditate on the Word during the week. For their message, they open the Scriptures randomly as they stand before the congregation and use these texts for their message. It is felt God knows much better than the minister what the congregation needs to hear. The minister thus humbly depends on the Holy Spirit for inspiration, praying to be used as an instrument for the benefit and edifying of the worshippers.

Singing, too, is simple and holy in "a cappella" fashion. All music is intended to focus on God. The intent of worship is not to entertain, but to enrich and to glorify God. All parishioners sing. There are no individual soloists and no choral groups during the worship service so that all honor and glory can focus clearly on God, and not man.
In the sanctuary, prayer is offered to God while kneeling. This prostrate style symbolizes fallible mankind "bowing" in heart and mind before an all-powerful, merciful, and infallible God and Father. Prayer language such as "Thee, Thou, Thy, and Thine"--both in prayer and song--intends to offer a deeper reverence in the minds of the worshippers as opposed to the more informal and contemporary "You and Your."

Female members wear a veiling over their head during prayer and worship according to Scriptures (1 Cor. 11:5). This reflects the order of God (1 Cor. 11:3-13). Male members pray with their heads uncovered (1 Cor. 11:7).

Men and women sit separately during regular worship services. This is sometimes relaxed, however, during special occasions such as weddings and funerals. Although no Scriptures reflect this practice, both Jewish and Christian tradition do. This practice was universally observed in both faiths beginning with temple worship until the late 1800's. Separate seating during worship contributes to better "a cappella" singing, and it helps widows, widowers, and single members feel more comfortable by sitting with believers of their own gender. It also contributes to less gender distraction.
During the first part of the worship service, prayer is offered by the minister conducting the service. Near the end of the service, however, any brother from the congregation may be asked to pray. All male members may participate in praying and in the announcing of songs. This is done because the church believes in the "priesthood of all believers" (1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9). It is customary to have two worship services on Sunday. Following a morning worship service, a noon lunch is served, followed by a period of fellowship. Another worship service then follows.
Everyone is welcome to have lunch, including visitors and guests. Members attend both worship services and everyone-friends, visitors and guests-are encouraged to attend also.Charitable collections are not solicited by passing a collection plate after worship services. No one is pressured or should ever feel compelled to make financial contributions. Instead, when collections are taken for special projects they are announced from the pulpit and donations are placed in "charity boxes" which are located in the church hallways. Brethren and friends give on a free will basis as they feel led by God's Spirit.

Fellowship, while not a formal part of the worship service, is nonetheless complimentary to worship. Brethren, when they come together for worship, have a warm Christ-like feeling for one another. Members thus greet with a holy kiss (within their own gender). This is taught five times in the New Testament (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 11 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14). It is a blessing for the humble and converted heart as it is an expression of love and kindness toward others in the household of faith.

VI. BROTHERHOOD

A bond of love and closeness exists among Apostolic Christians-perhaps as deep a sense of kindred affection as exists among any American church denomination; and this esteem for the brethren extends from congregation to congregation within the denomination. This close fellowship is very special and precious to Apostolic Christians.

This occurs because the church believes in the Biblical teaching of unity and oneness. Apostolic Christians believe that the church is Christ's body, and that Christ is the head (Eph. 5:23; Eph. 2:20). The two are inseparable. Individualism, so prominent in society, is in conflict with the truths of unified brotherhood taught by the Word. Thus, much like a physical body (which has many parts or members), the church is a spiritual body with many members. This spiritual body is united, not divided (1 Cor. 1:10). The Bible gives the church great authority, not only to "bind and loose" (Matt. 18:18) but to instruct and encourage (Heb. 13:7, 17; Acts l5).
Brothers and sisters in the church are to love one another as Christ loved us (John l3:34). They are to submit one to another in the fear of God (Eph. 5:21). They are to respect each other's conscience (1 Cor 8:9-13; Romans 14:21). Further, they are asked via Scriptures to encourage (exhort) (Romans 12:8; 1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:2) one another and, if ever necessary, to correct (admonish) each other (Romans 15:14; 2 Thess. 3:14-15). This is all done in love and gentleness with the intent of strengthening the individual member and thence the entire body.Likewise, believers are to be "perfectly joined together" (1 Cor. 1:10) and "fitly framed." (Eph. 4:16, Eph. 2:21). They are to keep the same spiritual judgements (1 Cor. 1:10), and walk according to the same rule (Phil. 3:16).

Following this Biblical pattern of godly order results in a great measure of love and unity. In Christ and His body, the church (which are inseparable), the believer finds comfort, contentment, inspiration, and unity of the Spirit.

VII. MISSION

The mission of the church is to spread the Word of God through preaching, teaching, and by a living example. By preaching the Word, the church and the individual can better "contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). The motive of each individual member is to reflect the Light of Christ, to obey the Word, and to witness the message of Christ, both by good works (1 Peter 2:12) and by being ready to give verbal expressions of their faith when asked (1 Peter 3:15).

Missionary efforts have seen the opening of many new churches in America together with preaching and teaching sessions among church brethren on university campuses.

Following World War II, missionary efforts resulted in the establishment of a few churches in Japan. Recently, church Elders have traveled to India to exert doctrinal influence among a gospel and medical mission in that country over which the church has trusteeship.

Missionary efforts are most prominent, however, on an individual basis by bringing acquaintances to church and letting them hear the Word and observe the Christ-like love and godly order found among the brethren. Parents recognize that one of the greatest missionary fields is in the home with their children. Specific group mission work is channeled through a national missionary committee.

VIII. PURPOSE

The reason for a believer's existence is to glorify God. The major objective of a believer's life is to follow God and to do His will. A true believer lives and walks in the Spirit and has crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts (Gal. 5:24, 25).

A believer's motive and purpose is to engage in edifying activities that upbuild the inner and spiritual man. He further works to enhance and further the kingdom of God, and to strengthen the church in love (Eph. 4:16).

"Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" ((Romans 8:12-13).

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).

"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27).

IX. GOVERNANCE

The church body recognizes Christ as the head of the church, firstborn among the brethren, and the chief cornerstone. Yet, in an earthly sense, a group of approximately fifty local Elders comprise a national Council of Elders who, in the form of a servant leadership, exert doctrinal guidance and authority for the benefit of the various local congregations. The leadership committee of this council serves on a rotating basis so no ongoing authority will be vested in any one person or small group.

X. HOPE

The prime motive of the Christian is to achieve the goal of reaching the portal of heaven. The believer sees himself as a "pilgrim" and stranger (1 Peter 2:11) in this short earthly life who is walking on a "narrow" (Matt. 7:14) pathway to eternal life in heaven. The Scriptures use explicit adjectives such as "pilgrims", "strangers", and "narrow way," and the church takes them seriously.

As a child of God, one's focus is on the unseen things of the Spirit. Only spiritual things will last forever. A believer's value system lessens the importance of material and earthly things-such as wealth, status, and ease-because they will eventually fade away, and they could erode one's spiritual resolve. A believer has a scope and spiritual insight that is not limited to this present life, but encompasses those things that have eternal value. One's affection is set on the things above, not on the things of the earth (Col. 3:1, 2).
The blessed hope of heaven is made possible by the death and shed blood of Jesus Christ. As man yields to Him in true repentance, becomes converted (by His grace), and then obediently follows the patterns of godly living, he can entertain the hope of eternal life in heaven! The delights of heaven are so great that "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that are prepared for them that love him" (1 Cor. 2:9).

The doctrine of the church and its subsequent lifestyle standards are all designed to assist the pilgrim believer in reaching the beauties of heaven.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" JOHN 3:16

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