The Restoration Movement

Briefly, we identify, and are affiliated with the Restoration Movement which is a Christian movement that began in the United States during the “Second Great Awakening” (1790-1840). The early pioneers were intent on unifying Christians under the authority of Scripture alone apart from creeds, and following the pattern, practice, and beliefs of the New Testament church, hence the name, Restoration Movement. 

The major Christian groups that trace their heritage to the Restoration Movement include: Churches of Christ, Independent Christian Church, the International Church of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). These groups differ significantly from one another in many ways despite a common heritage. They also share many overlapping principles and practices inherited from the Restoration Movement. Together, the groups represent an estimated 3 million adherents in the United States plus an estimated 3-4 million outside the US.

Some of the distinctives of the Restoration Movement of churches can be seen in popular slogans present throughout our history. These include:
  • Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent. 
  • The church of Jesus Christ is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one.
  • We are Christians only, but not the only Christians.
  • In essentials, unity; in opinions, liberty; in all things love.
  • No creed but Christ, no book but the Bible, no law but love,
  • Do Bible things in Bible ways, and call Bible things by Bible names. 

Generally, the major Restoration Movement churches are viewed  as an affiliated, cooperative group of independent, non-denominational churches (except the Disciples of Christ who formally restructured as a denomination in 1968). Each are congregationally governed and may vary in numerous ways from each other in practice and beliefs but consistently incorporate believers baptism by immersion, weekly observance of communion, elder driven leadership, the priesthood of all believers, and use of the New Testament as the only required statement of faith. All would acknowledge the twin means of unity and restoration: 1) using Scripture alone apart from creeds, and 2) following the practice and pattern seen in the New Testament church. 

This also means nothing is required of others that is not expressly required by the New Testament. For Restoration Fellowship, the basics of the faith are simply: 

  • that the Bible is the sole basis for our faith  ( 2 Tim. 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21);
  • that Yahweh, the Father, is the only true God (John 5:44, 17:3, 1 Cor. 8:6, Ephesians 4:6, 1Tim.2:5);
  • that Jesus is the Son of God, our Lord and Messiah, that God raised from the dead (John 20:17, Acts 17:31, Romans 10:9, 1 Peter 1:21), through whom we are reconciled to God (Rom.3:24-25, Rom.5:10, 2 Cor.5:18-20); 
  • that all believers who accept the work of Christ on their behalf are baptized by immersion as an identification with his death, burial, and resurrection to new life (Acts2:38, Rom.6:3-5, 1 Cor.15:22,  Col.2:12); and, 
  • that we are to live a life in imitation of Jesus that glorifies our God and Father (1 Peter 1:16, Romans 12:1-2, John 13:35, 1 John 2:6, John 15:8, Romans 15:6)

  • The World Convention, a global missions conference that brings together the three main streams of the Restoration Movement (also called “Stone-Campbell” churches), describes the commonalities as:

    • A concern for Christian Unity. 
    • A commitment to Evangelism and Mission. 
    • An emphasis on Scripture. 
    • A call to Peace and Justice. 
    • A Simple Confession of faith. 
    • Believers’ Baptism. 
    • Weekly Communion
    • Congregational Leadership. 
    • Freedom and Diversity. 
    See the World Convention link for more in-depth description. 

    Relationship to the Restoration Movement

    As noted above, the Restoration Movement is a very diverse group and certainly not perfect. Some groups are extremely conservative, many oppose the use of instrumental music, or other practices, and even isolate from each other. Some are extremely liberal and may accept persons baptized in ways other than immersion, question the inerrancy of Scripture, etc. Some emphasize unity at any cost, others emphasize restoration of patterns and beliefs, even to the point of dividing over disagreements. 

    Despite its problems, the principles and ideals of the Restoration Movement forms a strong foundation for uniting us in the common cause of telling the Good News that God has made a way to redeem us and restore our relationship with him through Christ. 

    Each of our simple, organic, Christian communities are interrelated microchurches with connection to each other organically and voluntarily, and connected to the larger Restoration Movement ideologically and voluntarily. 

    Learn more:

    Article: Restorationist Manifesto

     Restoration Movement

     RM Colleges/Universities /Publications