Churches of Christ

Churches of Christ


Describing the role of the “Churches of Christ” in missionary activity is made difficult by the lack of denominational structure and similar sounding names of the various churches.  All are rooted in the Stone-Campbell/American Restoration Movement, which sought to return the church to the original teachings and practices of the New Testament.  Today, that tradition is largely represented by three religious groups: the “Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),” the “Christian Churches/Churches of Christ,” and the “Churches of Christ” (also referred to as the a cappella Churches of Christ)

The founders hoped to restore Christian unity, but differences developed.  “One group which opposed practices not specifically authorized by the New Testament, such as instrumental music in the church and organized missionary activity, gradually pulled away.  That group finally was listed separately in the 1906 federal religious census as the Churches of Christ.”

Another division occurred in 1968.  Christian Churches that favored denominational structure and more ecumenical/liberal theology became the “Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Those opposing this approach, which dated back to the mid-1920s, continued as undenominational-independent “Christian Churches/Churches of Christ.”  They use instruments in worship but otherwise hold beliefs similar to the “a cappella” Churches of Christ.

The Stone-Campbell Movement first came to Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) in 1898 through the efforts of John Sherriff of the New Zealand Churches of Christ. American “a cappella” Church of Christ missionaries assisted Sherriff in the 1920’s and established the Nhowe Mission in 1940.  Perhaps the most well known New Zealand Churches of Christ missionary was Garfield Todd who ran the Dadaya Mission until being elected Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia in 1953.  His administration was considered too liberal (supportive of the Africans) and he was removed in 1958.  In 1957, the New Zealand church passed responsibility for its Mashoko Mission to American “direct support” missionaries with the Christian Church/Churches of Christ.

The various New Zealand Churches of Christ mission stations and churches are currently under control of African leadership collectively known as the “Associated Churches of Christ, Zimbabwe.” In 1997 it had 200 congregations.  There are presently approximately 800 congregations in Zimbabwe affiliated with the American Christian Churches/Churches of Christ.



Southern Rhodesia
Northern Rhodesia



  • Christianity and Traditional Religions of Zimbabwe – Paradzayi D. Mubvumbi
  • The Stone-Campbell Movement; a global history” – by D. Newell Williams, Douglas A. Foster, Paul M. Blowers
  • Mark Loomis