As a result, most divisions among Churches of Christ have been the result of "methodological" disputes.These are meaningful to members of this movement because of the seriousness with which they take the goal of "restoring the form and structure of the primitive church".Stone were trailblazers of similar movements that impacted the eventual phenomenon known as the American Restoration Movement.The Restoration ideal was also similar and somewhat connected to earlier restoration efforts in Europe (such as those of John Glas, Robert Haldane, and James Haldane), as well as Puritan movements in colonial America.For groups of autonomous congregations using the name "church of Christ" that have no historical connection with the Restoration Movement, see Churches of Christ (non-Restoration Movement). Churches of Christ are autonomous Christian congregations associated with one another through distinct beliefs and practices.Represented chiefly in the United States and one of several branches to develop out of the American Restoration Movement, they claim Biblical precedent for their doctrine and practice and trace their heritage back to the early Christian church as described in the New Testament.The remaining three groups, whose congregations are generally considerably smaller than those of the mainstream or non-institutional groups, also oppose institutional support as well as "fellowship halls" and similar structures (for the same reasons as the non-institutional groups), but differ by other beliefs and practices (the groups often overlap, but in all cases hold to more conservative views than even the non-institutional groups): Churches of Christ generally see the Bible as historically accurate and literal, unless scriptural context obviously indicates otherwise.Regarding church practices, worship, and doctrine, there is great liberty from congregation to congregation in interpreting what is Biblically permissible, as congregations are not controlled by a denominational hierarchy.
Similarly, non-institutional congregations also oppose the use of church facilities for non-church activities (such as fellowship dinners or recreation); as such, they oppose the construction of "fellowship halls", gymnasiums, and similar structures.These congregations generally avoid names that associate the church with a particular man (other than Christ) or a particular doctrine or theological point of view (e.g., Lutheran, Wesleyan, Reformed).Other terms have been recognized as scriptural, based on their use in the New Testament: "church of God", "church of the Lord", "churches of Christ", "church of the first-born", "church of the living God", "the house of God", and "the people of God".The remaining congregations may be grouped into four categories which generally differ from the mainstream consensus in specific practices, rather than in theological perspectives, and tend to have smaller congregations on average.
The largest of these four categories is the "non-institutional" Churches of Christ.
For example, the Christian Church uses musical instruments in worship (known as the Christian Church), whereas the Churches of Christ believe a cappella singing to be proper.