What does “congregational” mean?

At Christ Church, we believe that the church of Jesus Christ is larger than any local church, or any denomination or association of churches; indeed,  the universal church of Jesus Christ is comprised of all believers now dead, now living, or who might live at any point in the future, and these believers constitute a nation of “priests unto God.”  But,  though they are individually priests, individual believers are not “spiritual islands”  unto themselves. We also believe that Christians have the responsibility and biblical mandate to associate themselves in local churches, for worship, for the promotion of spiritual growth and fellowship, and for the conversion of souls; as the writer of the book of Hebrews puts it, we are not to “Forsake the assembling of ourselves together.”    So,  when we say that Christ Church is “congregational,”  we mean to communicate three things about our understanding of the nature of the church:

1. That we believe that the bible teaches that local churches, like ours,  in which Christians are to associate themselves,  under the guidance of the Holy Scriptures and the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit,  may determine—each for itself—their own organization, statements of belief, and forms of worship; and may appoint and set apart their own ministers; and that they are not accountable to any other ecclesiastical body for the decisions they make.

2. That we believe that we may and should cooperate with other churches where possible in the work which Christ has committed to all of us for the furtherance of the gospel throughout the world.

3. That we believe that Jesus Christ is the head of his church, universal and local, and that to him all true believers are directly responsible in faith and conduct; and that to Him all have immediate access without mediatorial or priestly intervention.