FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions)
There are already a number of organizations that bring churches together; what does CCT offer that is unique?
Christian Churches Together offers a space that is inclusive of the diversity of Christian families in the United States — Evangelical, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Pentecostals, historic Protestant, Racial and African American churches. Both the National Council of Churches of Christ (NCCC) and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) are national organizations, but neither brings together churches across the theological spectrum.
CCT is the first national ecumenical group that US Catholics have joined; with over 67 million members, the Catholic Church is the largest church in the United States. Christian Churches Together is unique in providing the only venue where churches from all the major groupings of churches, representing over one hundred million Christians, come together for prayer, dialogue, fellowship and witness.
What are the purposes of CCT?
The most basic purposes of CCT relate to being together as followers of Christ:
- to celebrate a common confession of faith in the Triune God,
- to discern the guidance of the Holy Spirit through prayer and theological dialogue,
- to provide fellowship and mutual support,
- And to seek better understanding of each other by affirming our commonalities and understanding our differences.
What did it take for CCT to get started?
In 2001, a number of US churches leaders began discussing the possibility of forming a new organization that would provide a broader-based space than that provided by the National Council of Churches or the National Association of Evangelicals. On September 7-8, 2001, various American church leaders met informally in Baltimore to explore whether or not the time had come to “create a new, more inclusive body.” At the meeting no votes were taken, but there was a strong desire among the participants for a broader structure of some kind that would include all the major groupings of churches, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Evangelical and Pentecostal groups.
This conversation continued in Chicago (April 4 – 6, 2002), in Pasadena (January 27 – 29, 2003) in Houston (January 7 – 9, 2004) and in Los Altos (June 1 – 3, 2005) with an ever expanding and more diverse group of Christian leaders. The participants at these meetings prayed, listened and sought God’s guidance. They experienced an increasing sense of purpose and vision that resulted in the decision, by thirty-four churches and organizations, to form Christian Churches Together in the USA in Atlanta on March 30, 2006.
Why does CCT speak of five families or grouping of churches in the United States?
From the beginning, CCT found it natural to speak of families of churches as an informal organizing tool. In the first meetings, the term referred to major theological traditions – Evangelical/Pentecostal, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant. In Pasadena, the group discerned that it was important to add a fifth family – Racial/Ethnic – in order to portray the wholeness of Christ’s body; this has been more recently changed to African American. CCT understood and affirmed that questions of unity are not only theological, but are also social and cultural. In the American context, CCT needs to be in full engagement with racial/ethnic churches. The call for this designation comes out of our Christian faith experience in the U.S.
The five families play an important role in our bylaws. No decision can be made without a representative of the five. This is a significant commitment for CCT. It serves both as a discipline and as a mark of our integrity.
Is CCT going to do anything?
It is probably necessary, in our American context, to affirm that being together and building relationships is doing something. Out of the process of growing together, participants discern how and when to take action together in common witness to our society. The bylaws mention three specific tasks: 5) to foster evangelism faithful to the proclamation of the gospel, (6) to speak to society with a common voice whenever possible, and (7) to promote the common good of society.
As a first example of action that emerged in this way, the 2006 Annual Meeting focused on poverty in the USA and participants committed themselves to finding the distinct contribution that CCT can make in eliminating poverty. In 2008 & 2009, participants addressed the scandal of poverty in the U.S. The focus of the 2009 Annual Meeting was primarily on Evangelism: our mutual as well as different understandings of this central New Testament concept. In 2010 participants discussed the church’s responsibility to address racism. The 2012 Annual Meeting topic will be immigration. Other concerns will follow as participants discern the needs to be addressed together.
Who makes decisions in CCT? What if a church objects to something that other churches want to say?
Christian Churches Together employs the consensus model for decision making, which ensures a careful process of listening and discussing. Participants have three options with regard to any proposal: 1) agree, 2) disagree, or 3) stand aside (not in support of the proposal but will not block it). All participants have either to agree or to stand aside for any proposal to be adopted by CCT. The participants could also agree by consensus to decide an issue by majority vote or to issue majority and minority opinions. At no time would any participant have to sign on to any statement with which they disagree. One No vote is sufficient to stop any proposed action.
How will CCT keep its “movement” quality?
There is a natural tension between the process-nature of relationship building and the needs of an organizational structure. CCT is helped by its commitment to a very simple structure, modest staff support and perhaps even by its lack of finances! Because there is minimal staff support, much of the work is carried on by participants themselves. The continued involvement of participants, the church leaders themselves, in every aspect of CCT’s life, sustains its vitality and sense of movement.
What can CCT offer local communities?
CCT shares its experience through its website, through personal contacts (see the list of Presidents and Steering Committee Members), and through its annual meetings held in different communities each year. One of the goals of these annual meetings is to bring together churches from the five families in the local setting. As the CCT experience extends into local communities, the website will be open to sharing experiences and ideas that come from the creation of these new CCT spaces. Some of the CCT “learnings” are included in The CCT Invitation, a small brochure that encourages the formation of CCT space in local communities.
Who can be a participant in CCT?
Participants in CCT includes churches and Associations of Churches that are national in scope and national Christian organizations. The number of Christian organizations is limited to twenty percent of the total number of Participants. Participant churches and organizations must accepts and endorses the theological basis and purposes. They must agree to attend meetings on a regular basis and to pay the dues established.
What are the benefits to participant churches?
Christian Churches Together provides a context – marked by prayer, theological dialogue and fellowship—in which churches can develop relationships with other churches with whom they presently have little contact. This is one response to our Lord’s Prayer that all who believe in Him might be one with God and with one another so that the world would believe in Him as God and Savior (John 17:21).
CCT offers the possibility of face-to-face relationships with participants across the major church families in the U.S. As participants grow closer together in Christ, differences can be better understood and commonalities affirmed. In praying and studying the scripture together, spiritual resources will be deepened and prophetic voices strengthened. There will be new possibilities for shared witness, new coalitions formed among churches on various issues. CCT, out of its commitment to grow closer together in Christ, can offer a significant and credible voice in speaking to contemporary culture on issues of spirituality, life, social justice and peace.