Churches of Christ share these traits:(The following is NOT to be viewed as a creed)

  • Refusal to hold to any formalized creeds or statements of faith, relying on the Bible alone for doctrine and practice
  • Autonomous, congregational church organization without denominational oversight
  • Local governance by a plurality of male elders
  • Baptism by immersion of consenting believers for the forgiveness of sins
  • Weekly observance of Communion on Sunday (also referred to as "The Lord's Supper")
  • Practice of a cappella singing in worship

Churches of Christ claim the New Testament as their sole rule of faith and practice in deciding matters of doctrine and ecclesiastical structure. They view the Old Testament as divinely inspired and historically accurate, but they do not see its laws as binding under the New Covenant in Christ (unless they are repeated in the New Testament). They believe that the New Testament demonstrates how a person may become a Christian (and thus a part of the universal Church of Christ) and how a church should be collectively organized and carry out its scriptural purposes.

Churches of Christ generally teach that the process of salvation involves the following steps:
  • One must be properly taught, the good news of Christ - Romans 1:16-17) and hear (Romans 10:17, Matthew 7:24)
  • One must believe or have faith (Hebrews 11:6, Mark 16:15-16)
  • One must repent, which means turning from one's former lifestyle and choosing God's ways (Acts 2:38, Acts 17:30, Luke 13:3)
  • One must confess belief that Jesus is the son of God (Matthew 10:32-33; Acts 8:36-37)
  • One must be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 1Peter 3:20-21; Romans 6:3-5; Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16); and
  • One must remain faithful to Christ's instruction unto death (Revelation 2:10).
Baptism has been recognized as an important rite throughout the history of the Christian Church, but Christian groups differ over the manner in which baptism is administered, the meaning and significance of baptism, its role in salvation, and who is a candidate for baptism.
Baptism in Churches of Christ is performed only by bodily immersion, based on the Koine Greek verb Baptizo which is understood to mean to dip, immerse, submerge or plunge. Immersion is seen as more closely conforming to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus than other modes of baptism. Churches of Christ argue that historically immersion was the mode used in the first century, and that pouring and sprinkling later emerged as secondary modes when immersion was not possible. Over time these secondary modes came to replace immersion. Only those mentally capable of belief and repentance are baptized (i.e., infant baptism is not practiced because the New Testament has no precedent for it).
Churches of Christ hold the view that humans of accountable age are lost because of their sins. These lost souls can be redeemed because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, offered Himself as the atoning sacrifice. Children too young to understand right from wrong, and make a conscious choice between the two, are believed to be innocent of  the guilt of sin.
"Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; and where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent"
- This defines a commitment to speak, teach, and preach on the contents of the Bible while avoiding additions to the scripture that come about from traditions or cultural developments.
"Locally Autonomous."  - That is, every church makes their own decisions without any accountability to anything else other than to Jesus Christ. Their only accountability is to God and the congregation. Also, no group or para-church organization can tell them what to do or hold them accountable to any decision or action.
Non-instrumental worship
The Churches of Christ generally combine the lack of any historical evidence that the early church used musical instruments in worship and the belief that there is no scriptural support for using mechanical instruments of music in the church's worship service to decide that mechanical instruments should not be used today in worship. Churches of Christ have historically practiced a cappella music in worship services
Scriptural backing for this practice includes:
  • Matt. 26:30: "And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives."
  • Rom. 15:9: "Therefore I will praise thee among the Gentiles, and sing to thy name"
  • Eph. 5:18,19: "... be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,"
  • 1 Cor. 14:15: "I will sing with the Spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also."
  • Col. 3:16: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God."
  • Heb. 2:12: "I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee."
Congregational autonomy and leadership
Church government is congregational rather than denominational. Churches of Christ purposefully have no central headquarters, councils, or other organizational structure above the local church level. Rather, the independent congregations are a network with each congregation participating at its own discretion in various means of service and fellowship with other congregations.
Congregations are generally overseen by a plurality of elders (also known in some congregations as shepherds, bishops, or pastors) who are sometimes assisted in the administration of various works by deacons. Elders are generally seen as responsible for the spiritual welfare of the congregation, while deacons are seen as responsible for the material needs of the church. Deacons serve under the supervision of the elders, and are often assigned to direct specific ministries. Successful service as a deacon is often seen as preparation for the eldership. Elders and deacons are chosen by the congregation and appointed by an evangelist based on the qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Congregations look for elders who have a mature enough understanding of scripture to enable them to supervise the minister and to teach, as well as to perform "governance" functions. In absence of willing men who meet these qualifications, congregations are sometimes overseen by the congregation in general.

Churches of Christ are autonomous Christian congregations associated with one another through common beliefs and practices. They seek to base doctrine and practice on the Bible alone, and see themselves as restoring the New Testament church established by Christ. They seek to base doctrine and practice on the Bible alone, and see themselves as restoring the New Testament church established by Christ in the first century.

COC's approach to the Bible is driven by the "assumption that the Bible is sufficiently plain and simple to render its message obvious to any sincere seeker".

(It is to be understood that the term "church of Christ" is used in the New Testament as a descriptive phrase, indicating that the church belongs to Christ, rather than as a proper name.)