The “church” of Christ with a Little “c”

The “church” of Christ with a Little “c”                                 August 27, 2023

Have you seen sometimes when a church of Christ uses a lowercase “c” (as in “church of Christ”) instead of an uppercase “C” (as in “Church of Christ”)?  Why do they do that?  Are they just trying to be weird?

There may be varied reasons why some congregations do this, so I will not attempt to give every explanation for such usage.  But consider this one thought.  Often an uppercase letter is used to designate a title for something-we capitalize the names of restaurants, the names of song titles, the titles for positions that individuals hold in organizations, etc.  Notice that we are capitalizing “titles.”  Does the church have a “title”?

As one reads through Scripture, he will find that God does not give a “title” for His church.  The word “church” itself is not a title but a descriptive term that emphasizes an assembly of called out people.  The church is referred to as “the churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16), “the church of God” (I Corinthians 1:2), “the church of the living God” (I Timothy 3:15), “the church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23).  Note carefully that these are not titles that God was instructing to put on signs, letterhead and business cards.  These are designations that emphasize the origin, identity and ownership of this church.

Consider also that the word “church” is used interchangeably with other descriptive terms.  The church is called “the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12; cf. 1:22-23), “the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3; cf. Matthew 16:18-19), “the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13), “the house of God” (I Timothy 3:15), “the flock of God” (I Peter 5:2; cf. Acts 20:28), etc.  Those are other designations that God uses for the church, but those words are not capitalized because they are not titles but descriptions of the same entity.  Just as the designations of “husband,” “father,” “grandfather,””accountant,” “sports fan” are all used to describe one man (but are not capitalized), so the words “church,” “body,” “kingdom,” “house,” “family,” “flock” are used to describe one entity (but are not capitalized).

The names of denominational groups are capitalized because they are titles given to those groups by the ones who originated and organized them.  Jesus Christ, the one who originated and organized His church, never gave a title that it was to wear.  Instead, God uses words that have specific meanings to explain His will and His plan for us.

The “church of Christ” belongs to Christ.  It is not wrong to capitalize “Church,” if someone so chooses, but using the lowercase “c” is intended to use the word in the way that it is used in the New Testament and to focus on the meaning of the word rather than seeing “Church of Christ” as a title.

By David Sproule