About Congregationalism

Understanding the Congregational Way

Congregational Churches are sometimes known as the “Church of the Pilgrims” after the small congregations of the early 1600’s.  The people of these congregations moved from England to the new world in pursuit of religious freedom.  From them, we inherited a wonderful spiritual heritage, one that is uniquely suited to our contemporary world.

This is a tradition that has deep convictions based upon the Word of God as each person interprets that Word according to the dictates of conscience, under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.  This naturally attracts men and women of genuine conviction, of adventurous faith, and of gracious regard for each other’s sincerity to the Congregational Christian fellowship.

Strength in Diversity

Strength In Diversity

Since every Congregationalist possesses full liberty of conscience in interpreting the Gospel, we are a diverse group of people united under Christ.  We believe there is strength in diversity and by it, there are unending opportunities to learn from each other and to grow in faith. There is a wide variety of thought and practice among our member churches. This, in itself, reveals an essential aspect of Congregationalism: each church, using Scripture as its foundation and guided by the Holy Spirit, determines its faithful forms of worship, governance and belief. This naturally leads to diverse worship practices, beliefs about God, and Biblical interpretations among churches.

Guiding Principles

The Guiding Principles of
Congregational Christian Churches

  • Christ alone is the head of the church
  • All church members are spiritually equal and called to the work of ministry
  • Every local church is autonomous and complete
  • Each local church is called into wider associations of fellowship
  • Believers are bound to one another in a voluntary covenant
  • Every Christian possesses full liberty of conscience in interpreting the Gospel
  • The Bible is fully sufficient as our guide in matters of faith and practice and will inspire individuals and direct the church with fresh light and truth for every generation

The Origins of Congregational Christian Churches

The Puritans and Pilgrims were inspired by the words of Matthew 18:20: Jesus says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” (NRSV) They believed this expressed God’s Covenant of Grace in their everyday lives. They believed in the presence of Christ. Pilgrims and Puritans committed themselves to live faithfully as God required. They drew up their own covenants that everyone agreed to. People became members of the church by voluntarily “owning” the covenant. They pledged to “walk together in the ways of the Lord, made known or to be made known” to them. The church of Christ was created through acceptance of the church covenant. With Christ as the head of the church, they would be blessed.

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The Congregational Way

The Art and Practice of the Congregational Way

For a fuller introduction to Congregationalism, consider downloading and reading The Art and Practice of the Congregational Way.  This publication is also available in hard copy from the NACCC office. This handbook will help introduce church members to Congregationalism.

More Resources About Congregationalism

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