with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:2-6 (NET)
One of the biggest criticisms of Christendom today is the division that is clearly evident through the thousands of denominations. Some well-meaning people have tried to overlook this division by claiming that the denominations are parts of the one body. We find out however in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 that individuals make up the parts of the one body, not denominations.
We can see that there should be unity. Jesus prayed for it in John 17. Paul condemns divisions in 1 Corinthians 1:10-13. There is no excuse for a lack of unity. But denominations thrive in this lack of unity. What is a denomination? It is a group of people who have set themselves apart from others by giving themselves a name and stating what their beliefs are - which are somewhat different from all other denominations. This action then destroys any hope of unifying those people with others who have done the same thing. Differences are what make denominations.
So how can all Christians be united? 1 Corinthians 1 tells us how. Paul explains that these people were following after certain men. Instead, he says they should be following Christ. That means accepting all of Christs teaching and nothing but Christ’s teaching (which includes the teaching of the apostles and prophets in the New Testament).
He also explains in 1 Corinthians 1 that some of them had become proud of their own wisdom or they were wanting to follow those who were wise. Paul explains that God’s foolishness is wiser than men. We men cannot hope to figure out what God wants without Him telling us. Thankfully, He has given us the Bible which is complete and tells us everything we need to know (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Christ only has one body. When the church began on the day of Pentecost, there was only one church. There is still only one church that belongs to Christ. It is made up of all saved people. Acts 2 tells us that He adds people to His church when they are saved. You do not need anyone here on earth to put your name down as belonging to some church to be saved. Jesus keeps your records, Himself.
If you want to find a local church that is just trying to follow the wisdom of God, what do you do? You will want to find a church that is non-denominational. This does not mean inter-denominational where people who believe anything can be a part. It means that they are just trying to do things God’s way without any earthly headquarters or creed to tell them what to do.
Since the Restoration Movement in the 1800s where many people decided to get back to doing things like the Bible talks about, most of the non-denominational churches that I know about have called themselves churches of Christ, since you can find that description in Romans 16:16 and it clearly shows that Christ is the head, not some Pope, president, committee, etc. Of course, a church could call itself a church of God or simply a church and be calling itself what the churches were called in the Bible. The point is that these are not denominational names - they are not names at all. They are descriptions.
There must not be a “Church of Christ” doctrine. A church must follow Christ’s doctrine to belong to Him. To read more about local churches and their relationship to Christ, read Revelation 2 and 3. You will find that Christ is pretty strict in who He will accept as His church. But you will also find that we are judged individually. If you are doing right, you will be saved even if the rest of the church is full of sinners. Likewise, if you do not do right, you will not be saved even if the rest of the church is righteous.
Do not put your trust in the wisdom of men. Do not put your trust in the teachings of denominations or preachers. Put your trust in the teachings of Christ. Read your Bible and find out what He wants from you and from His church. You might be very surprised.