Philosophy of Ministry

In pursuit of our mission, we recognize the following basic principles…

The Worship of Christ Our Lord

The Shorter Catechism has rightly stated that the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. (Rom. 12:1; 2 Cor. 6:20; and 1 Cor. 10:31).

1. The Pillar

When we gather for mutual ministry, our ultimate purpose is to set the Lord continually before us. We should, therefore, establish the regular practice of corporate worship and promote an atmosphere of unreserved adoration of the God we serve.

2. The Practice

Our corporate worship may be expressed in the following ways:

  • The public reading and teaching of Scripture (1 Tim. 4:13; Acts 2:42)
  • Singing songs that are Scriptural, God-exalting and Christ-centered (Col. 3:16; Heb. 13:15; Eph. 5:19-20)
  • Congregational prayer (Acts 1:14, 2:42)
  • Public testimony of one’s identification with Christ at baptism (Acts 2:41, 8:36-39) and
  • Corporate remembrance and proclamation of Christ’s death and return at the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:23-29)

3. The Parameters

In our worship of God, it is our goal to express our love, adoration, thanksgiving, reverence, and awe to our glorious God, and to maintain a high and lofty view of Him (Heb. 12:28-29; John 4:24; Mark 12:30). Hence, only activities and music that contribute toward this goal will be encouraged.

The Proclamation of God’s Word

We believe that God’s Word is the authoritative, plenary, infallible, inspired revelation of God to man and “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3: 16-17).”

We uphold its sufficiency and strive to teach it using correct principles of hermeneutics and exegesis.

1. The Pillar

The Church is the repository of divine truth. The preaching or teaching of God’s Word shall be central during corporate worship on Sundays and in other discipleship activities of the church (1 Peter 4:11).

The Word of God shall be brought to bear upon the lives of the people, by gifted men and women sovereignly given by God to the church and duly-recognized by the board of elders, so that they can clearly understand it, apply its principles to their daily walk and thereby grow into the likeness of Christ (2 Tim. 4:2; Col. 3:16; Neh. 8:7-8; 1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 2:2).

We shall endeavor to call the church to guard, suffer for, continue in and proclaim the pure gospel (2 Tim. 3:2-9).

2. The Practice

The Church is the repository of divine truth. The preaching or teaching of God’s Word shall be central during corporate worship on Sundays and in other discipleship activities of the church (1 Peter 4:11).

The Word of God shall be brought to bear upon the lives of the people, by gifted men and women sovereignly given by God to the church and duly-recognized by the board of elders, so that they can clearly understand it, apply its principles to their daily walk and thereby grow into the likeness of Christ (2 Tim. 4:2; Col. 3:16; Neh. 8:7-8; 1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 2:2).

We shall endeavor to call the church to guard, suffer for, continue in and proclaim the pure gospel (2 Tim. 3:2-9).

3. The Parameters

The church may use the knowledge and methods of advertising, the social sciences, and modern technology only when they are consistent with Biblical truth, do not contradict it in any way—and can therefore clearly further the cause of Christ. The church believes that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness in the Holy Scriptures (2 Peter 1:3). Moreover, all ministry functions, especially during Sunday services, must not be used to promote partisan politics, worldly philosophies, principles of psychology and other secular views, business enterprises, and other self-serving objectives.

The Indispensability of Prayer

Prayer is not man reaching out to God. Rather, prayer begins at God’s initiative. God, in His loving condescension to sinful and depraved mankind, graciously and persistently invites and encourages us, His children, to come to Him in prayer (Jer. 33:3; Luke 11:9, 18:1; Matt. 6:9-15; Rom. 12:12; Eph. 6:18; Col. 4:2; 1 Tim. 2:1-2). He does this not merely to shower us with His bountiful blessings but more importantly, to enable us to know Him more, He who is our greatest need and good. God’s adoption of us into His family, through His Son Jesus Christ, has given us the access and the privilege of coming boldly to the Great and Living God to enjoy His presence and to bring our petitions (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:13, 18; Heb. 4:14, 16).

1. The Pillar

Prayer is the means God has given us to commune with Him. It is a two-way communication with God. It involves not only talking but also listening to God (John 10:27). Talking to God may be with or without words and may express adoration, praise, thanksgiving, confession, petition, supplication and intercession (1 Sam. 1:13; Heb. 13:15; 1 John 1:9; Eph. 1:16; 1 Tim. 2:5). Listening to God involves reading, studying, hearing, memorizing and meditating upon His Word and letting it “richly dwell within us.”

Prayer is an expression of dependence upon God. In prayer, whether private or corporate, we recognize our nothingness (John 15:5) and weaknesses; acknowledge that God alone is the source of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17); and declare that He alone is able to accomplish His perfect will for us (Eph. 3:20).

Our fellowship with God through prayer is dependent upon the gracious activity of the Holy Spirit who enables us to cry “Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6, Rom. 8:15).

For our prayers to be heard and answered by God, we must pray according to His will (1 John 5:14-15). This involves the setting aside of our own desires and being willing to submit to and obey God’s desires.

Scripture encourages us to pray not only for our personal, material and spiritual needs (Matt. 6:11-13) but more so, for the concerns of God’s kingdom (2 Thess. 3:1; Heb. 13:18), for the salvation of the lost (Rom. 10:1), for fellow believers (James 5:16), for church leaders (Rom. 15:30-31), for the universal Church (Eph. 6:18), for all those in authority (1 Tim. 2:1-2), for missionaries and workers in the field (Rom. 15:30-31; 2 Cor. 1:11). The church encourages not only private prayer but also corporate prayer. Corporate prayer draws the church body into a singleness of heart and mind in worship, consecration, vision and goals.

2. The Practice

The Bible enjoins us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) and to pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers (Eph. 6: 18). Prayer is the natural, spontaneous, moment-by-moment activity or occupation of true believers.

Prayer in the Church may be expressed in the following ways:

  • Private devotions
  • Praying for one another during Sunday services, discipleship cell meetings, prayer meetings and retreats (James 5:16)
  • Prayer as a body during Sunday services, discipleship cell meetings, prayer meetings and retreats (Acts 2:42; 4:24-30)
  • Praying for the sick (James 5:13-16)
  • Laying on of hands in ordination to ministry (1 Tim. 5:22)
  • Fasting (Matt. 6:16; Esth. 4:16; Ps. 35:13; Matt. 4:2)
  • Prayer retreats (both private and corporate)

3. The Parameters

In prayer, we should only seek the attention or approval of God and not of men. To use prayer as an opportunity to parade one’s spirituality before men is evil because it stems from pride (Matt. 6:5). Promoting one’s self through prayer is the ultimate perversion of prayer because prayer is intended to glorify God (John 14:13).

Prayers that do not come from the hearts of men are offensive to God. We must avoid long and repetitious prayers, offered under the misconception that mere length and emotional intensity will make prayers efficacious. We must also avoid meaningless, thoughtless and routine prayers—prayers that have little or no thought of God or of what we are saying.

Prayer and faith have no power by themselves to secure desired results. We must beware of formulaic prayers that see God as some genie at our beck and call. The words “in Jesus’ name” are not magic words that get our prayers granted if we say them. To pray “in Jesus’ name” means to come to God in the merits of the One who paid for our sins and represents us in the courts of heaven and to pray in consonance with His character and will.

The Priority of the Local Church

The Church consists of those of every race, every land and every age who have been chosen by God the Father before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), purchased by Christ’s blood (Acts 20:28; Eph. 2:13; 5:25; Heb. 9:12; 1 Pet. 1:18-19), united in one body in Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-31; Eph. 1:22-23; 2:11-22), and sanctified by the Holy Spirit (1 Pet. 1:2). The Church is not a building or organization, but the company of those who have received the Holy Spirit by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:9; Acts 11:17), or those who have been born again of God’s Spirit (John 3:5-8). We affirm that the Church is God’s chosen instrument for working out His divine plans and purposes for the world and for the elect.

1. The Pillar

All believers are members of the same Body (1 Cor. 12:4-27; Eph. 1:23; 5:30; Col. 1:24); and, therefore, individually members of one another (Rom. 12:5). We constitute together the people of God, called out to be a chosen race, a royal priesthood and a holy nation (1 Pet. 2:9-10). We are sheep of the same flock (Heb. 13:20; Acts 20:28). We are citizens of the same kingdom (Phil.3:20; Heb. 11:16, 12:28; Rev. 21:2-3; Eph. 2:19). We belong to the same family or household (Eph. 2:19; Gal. 6:10; Heb. 10:21). Fulfilling the implications of this relationship involves regular fellowship with the brethren in a local church (Acts 2:42-47; Heb. 10:24; 1 John 1:3,7), caring for one another (Gal. 6:10; 1 John 3:16,17), accepting the family discipline (1 Cor. 5:12-13; Heb. 13:17), maintaining spiritual unity (Eph. 4:2-3; Phil. 2:1-2), and even offering together the spiritual sacrifices of our spiritual priesthood which are acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:5)—e.g. praise (Heb. 13:15), thanksgiving (Ps. 50:14, 107:22), prayer (Ps. 141:2), the dedication of our bodies to Him by living pure and consecrated lives (Rom. 12:1; 1 Cor. 8:1-5, 9:6-14), doing good, sharing what we have with others (Heb. 13:16) and giving to the work of the local church.

The local church is God’s tool for bringing His people to maturity in Christ (Eph. 4:11-13). For this reason, the local church is not to be despised by the Christian (1 Cor. 11:22). Every believer must heed the instruction not to neglect meeting together (Heb. 10:25), and must even strive to excel in building up the local church (1 Cor. 14:12). The church is a loving community that thrives in an atmosphere that allows personal interaction, which God can use to address physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. By close association with one another, Christian love is able to find the positive and practical expression it needs (John 13:35). Moreover, through church membership, we are able to disciple one another, strengthen one another (Luke 22:32), restore one another when we fall (Gal. 6:1), bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2), and exercise our spiritual gifts to the benefit of our brethren (1 Cor. 12:24-28).

2. The Practice

Dynamics of Church Life:

a. Proclaiming the Gospel of Christ

The purpose the Lord Jesus Christ had for the Church from the beginning was the preaching of repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name to all nations (Luke 24: 47; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8). Christians are to declare the wonderful deeds of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light by a careful and complete explanation of the saving Gospel of Christ, and by displaying the genuine change which their conversion has produced in their lives (1 Pet. 2:9).

The local church is the means of sounding forth the Word of the Lord in the area where she is located (1 Thess. 1:1, 8). Hence, it is hoped that the corporate life of the church would provide a powerful testimony to the community so that she can be used in calling the elect unto salvation and adding to the number of His people (Acts 2:42-47).

b. Preserving the Purity of the Gospel

The faithfully taught local church is one means God uses to preserve the pure teaching and preaching of the Gospel (2 Tim. 2:2). The church will therefore make a conscious effort to avoid the temptation of padding our messages with stories, anecdotes, and clever outlines in place of solid Biblical content with deep substance and sound doctrine.

c. Studying the Scriptures

The Bible alone is able to give believers the wisdom that leads to salvation, and adequately equip them for every good work (2 Tim. 3:15-17). Thus, believers are commanded to meditate on Scripture day and night (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:2); to let it fill their hearts and lives at all times (Col.3:16; Deut.6:6-9); to study it diligently and handle it rightly (2 Tim. 2:15). The members of the Church must endeavor to grow in their knowledge of God’s Word. By doing so, they will develop discernment and therefore be enabled to also fulfill their duty of preserving the purity of the Gospel.

d. Fellowshipping with the Saints

Because of the fellowship they share with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3- 4; 1 Cor. 1:9), the members of the church participate in a common life characterized by devotion to the work of the Gospel, sacrificial service to one another and a love for holiness. It is expressed in the following ways:

  • Confessing sins to one another (James 5:16)
  • Forgiving one another (2 Cor. 2:6-8; Col.3:13)
  • Bearing one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2)
  • Loving one another (1 John 4:7; 1 Pet. 1:22)
  • Encouraging one another (1 Thess. 4:18, 5:11)
  • Building up one another (Rom. 14:19; 1 Thess.5:11)
  • Admonishing one another (Rom. 15:14; Col.3:16)
  • Praying for one another (James 5:16)

This is all made possible by the grace of God, the saving work of Christ and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.

e. Maturing of Disciples

The work of the church is to make disciples of every individual who has come to a saving knowledge of Christ. Through their membership in the discipleship cells, we shall teach them to observe all that Christ has commanded (Matt. 28:20), so that they may be brought to full maturity as members of Christ’s Body (Col. 1:28). Furthermore, the church shall endeavor to train and equip them to disciple and reproduce themselves in the lives of others.

f. Exercising of Spiritual Gifts

The church will encourage and create avenues for the exercise of spiritual gifts among her members (1 Pet. 4:10). God has endowed believers with spiritual gifts for the glory of God and for the building up of the Church. Hence, it will be to the benefit of the church to assist each member in discovering, affirming, honing and exercising his spiritual gifts — i.e., speaking and serving gifts (1 Pet. 4:11). The church’s or each member’s failure to do so may eventually hurt the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12).

g. Relating to Leadership

The flock of God gathers together under the leadership of the under-shepherds whom the Chief Shepherd (Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 2:25), Jesus Christ, has appointed (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11-12). God designed the church with positions of leadership that are to be filled by Biblically qualified men and women who are called to establish order, and tasked to steer the church in the direction that God has called her to take (1 Tim. 3; Titus 1:6-9). Our members must recognize the leaders God has raised up, and accord them the proper respect, love, submission, and support (Heb.13:7, 17; 1 Thess.5:12-13; 1 Tim. 5:17).

h. Confronting One Another in Love

Indeed, it is a common misconception that Christ-like love never confronts nor admonishes an individual of his sin and error. The Bible tells us that confronting someone with the truth is actually one of the fullest ways we express our love for the brethren (Prov. 27:5-6). (It is hoped that those confronted will be open and humble to accept correction when necessary.) This is the Biblical way of fostering and preserving unity in, and maintaining the purity of, the church and the Gospel, as sin and unresolved conflict are primary obstacles to these (Matt. 18:15-17). The church shall endeavor to establish an atmosphere conducive to Biblical confrontation as we believe that this will exalt Christ.

i. Submitting to Church Discipline

As the church endeavors to establish and maintain the practice of Biblical holiness, it is likely that some of her members will fall into serious error and sin. The objectives of the discipline are threefold: to bring the person to genuine repentance and full restoration as a member of the church; to protect the Body of Christ from infection by warning the members to avoid evil; and to keep the demarcation line between the world and the church wide unmistakable. The church shall undertake the discipline of her members out of a heart of love and concern (Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 5; Rom. 16:17-18; 1 Tim. 1: 20, 5:19-20; Titus 3:10-11).

j. Praying in the Church

Prayer is a major and permanent fixture in the church. Through the exercise of prayer, the Holy Spirit empowers, sanctifies and sustains the church in the face of various challenges. The members must be encouraged not to pray merely for their personal needs, but to commit themselves to pray for the church’s concerns (Eph. 6:18; 2 Thess. 3:1; Col. 4:12), for all men without distinction of race, nationality, or social position (1 Tim. 2:1-2), for governments and rulers (1 Tim. 2:2), and for missionaries or workers laboring in the field (Rom. 15:30-31; 2 Cor. 1:11). These prayers must be led by the Holy Spirit, who will allow us to pray with a Biblical perspective (Eph. 6:18; Jude 20). The church encourages the practice of private prayer (e.g., through a regular and daily period of communion with God) and corporate prayer (e.g., during Sunday services, discipleship cell meetings, prayer meetings and retreats).

k. Obedience to the Ordinances

Ordinances are practices in the New Testament that are to be observed by the church, everywhere she exists, until the Lord Jesus returns. They are permanent and trans-cultural. Jesus has ordained that the church baptize believers and observe the Lord’s Supper. We emphasize however that neither ordinance has any saving merit, nor is any grace imparted in the mere physical act of being immersed in water in baptism, or partaking of the bread and the cup of the Lord’s Supper.

Baptism: This ordinance uses water as the visible external sign, to the believers being baptized, of God’s invisible operation within him: his union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection (Rom. 6:3; Col. 2:12); his being clothed with Him (Gal.3:27); the forgiveness of his sins (Mark 1:4; Acts 22:16); his regeneration (Tituss 3:5-6); and his giving up of himself to God through Jesus Christ to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4-5).

The Lord’s Supper: The Lord’s Supper enables the church to fulfill Christ’s command to remember His death and its meaning (1 Cor. 11:23-26). The church shall carefully observe this ordinance with our duly-recognized members as a vital part of fellowship (Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 10:16-17).

l. Preserving Unity

The common life Christians have in Christ brings a common care for unity (Phil. 2:1-2). Hence, no effort is to be spared to hold fast to the bonds of love, peace, and unity, which the Holy Spirit has established (Eph. 4:2,3). This will require the members to manifest the qualities of hopefulness (1 Cor. 13:7), graciousness and humility (Eph. 4:31-32; Col. 3:12-15), prayerfulness, mutual submission (Eph. 5:21), servanthood (Phil. 2:7); and to involve themselves in the church’s activities and programs. Such unity however must not be preserved at the expense of Biblical or doctrinal truth.

m. Giving to the Church

Giving is an act of worship in response to God’s saving grace and goodness. Moreover, giving affirms our understanding that everything we possess truly belongs to God and that we are mere stewards who will someday give an account to Him. The church must especially ensure that the financial needs of her workers are met so that they can devote all their time and labors to the work of the ministry (1 Cor. 9:6-14; Gal. 6:6; 1 Tim. 5:17-18).

We are to teach and encourage our members to give:

  • Willingly and cheerfully, not grudgingly or as a result of pressure (2 Cor. 8:12; 9:7)
  • Joyfully (2 Cor. 8:1-2)
  • Thoughtfully (2 Cor. 9:7)
  • With a perfect or pure heart (1 Chr. 29:17)
  • Mercifully (Ps. 37:21)
  • Unselfishly (2 Cor. 8:13-24)
  • Generously (Rom. 12:8; 2 Cor. 9:6,12)
  • Sacrificially (2 Cor. 8:2-3; Luke 21:1-4)
  • Secretly—not necessarily anonymously, but not to flaunt the act of giving to others (Matt. 6:1, 3-4)
  • Systematically (2 Cor. 9:5,7)
  • Proportionately (2 Cor. 8:12) and
  • Regularly (1 Cor. 16:2)

While we affirm that the New Testament does not explicitly command believers to give the tithe (10% of their gross income), we do urge our members to view this percentage as the starting point of their giving. The amount given to the church may, of course, be increased as the Lord prospers, or as He leads the giver. It is also up to each individual member to prayerfully apportion his offerings among the duly-recognized vocational pastors and ministers and the general fund of the church.

n. Awaiting Christ’s Return

The return of Christ and the presentation of the Church to Him as His bride is the ultimate end in view of this church. The members of Christ’s body must always be reminded that Christ loves the Church and that He will demonstrate that love before the enemies of the Church (Rev. 3:9; 2 Thess. 1:5-10). No matter how hopeless the situation for the Church may seem to be, the Bible tells us that she shall ultimately triumph and the powers of hell will not prevail against her (Matt. 16:18). In the end, the Church will be gathered from every part of the earth, with none of the elect missed, at Christ’s return (Matt. 24:31; Mark 13:27; Luke 21:28). The Church’s destiny is to be presented glorious before Him at the last (Eph. 5:27)—spotless, holy, and blameless (2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 21:2; Eph. 5:25-27). The promise of Christ’s return thus provides an impetus to the believers’ holiness and devotion to Christ (1 John 3:2-3; 2 Pet. 3:10-14).

3. The Parameters

Leadership in the Church must not degenerate into authoritarianism (1 Pet. 5:2-4).

Duly-recognized leaders must affirm the exercise of spiritual gifts and all ministerial functions. Every member desiring to serve must have met the Biblical requirements set by the church before embarking on any official ministry.

While we encourage the members to exercise their spiritual gifts for the edification of the body, the duly-recognized leadership of the church maintains the right and responsibility to suspend any of her workers from active ministry duty when the situation warrants it. This procedure will be carried out in accordance with principles taught in Scripture (e.g., Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Tim. 5:19-20).

Confronting brethren in love must not be based on perceived attitudes or motives but on actual observable conduct and/or speech explicitly forbidden in Scripture. Believers must not confront on the basis of mere preference or even a principle inferred from Scripture. Believers must likewise refrain from judging the contents of another’s heart (Rom. 14:4; 1 Cor. 4:5).

As we strive for unity, we must be careful not to confuse this with uniformity. We recognize our unity with the universal body of believers in Christ, and we do not stand as separatists or isolationists by design. Yet we shall endeavor not to obscure or compromise our critical doctrinal views for the sake of organizational unity (Jude 3-4; 2 Tim. 1:13-15; Titus 1:9).

Commitment to Holiness and Moral Integrity

God has called His people to be set apart for His glory and purpose. Believers are taught to be holy as He is holy (1 Pet.1:15-16). A life of holiness will distinguish us from the world (2 Cor. 6:14-16). We affirm, of course, that the call to live holy lives necessitates the work of regeneration and sanctification effected by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:16; 1 Cor. 6:11). However, we also recognize that this entails the believer’s yielding to and cooperation with the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-18)

1. The Pillar

The Church is committed to nurturing and encouraging holiness in the lives of her members through the communication of clear Biblical teachings, the promotion of constant self-examination against Biblical standards (2 Cor. 13:5), the continuous encouragement to persevere in the spiritual disciplines—e.g., devotional time, study of the Word, fellowship, etc. (1 Corinthians 9:27), the periodic call to repentance, and when necessary, the loving application of church discipline to confront and restore fallen brethren (Gal. 6:1; Matt. 18:15-17). We dare not lower these standards to that of the world. We remind ourselves that the church cannot expect God’s work to be accomplished, nor Christ’s name to be glorified, if Christians commit moral compromise (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1). We bear within our hearts the promise of our Lord’s return. In this light, we strive to be ready to give an account of every detail of our lives (1 John 3:3; Rom. 14:12; 1 Pet. 4:5).

2. The Practice

The believer’s pursuit of a life of holiness and integrity involves the following:

a. A life of wholesomeness, discipline and moderation that regards the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20, 9:27)

b. The priority of building strong marriages and godly families (Ps. 127:1)

c. A strong, righteous, biblically motivated work and business ethic (Prov. 20:10, 23; Titus 2:9; 1 Tim. 6:1-2)

d. The proper stewardship of time, abilities and resources (Eph. 5:16; 1 Tim. 6:17-19)

e. The practice of humility, honesty and Christ like love towards all persons and in all relationships (Col. 3:12-14; Eph. 4:2)

f. The practice of biblically confronting and restoring fallen brethren (Matt. 18:15-17; Gal. 6:1)

g. The genuine submission to all authorities established by God (Rom. 13:1-2; Titus 3:1)

h. Maintaining sexual purity in word, thought, and action (1 Cor. 6:12-20; Eph. 4:29)

i. The rejection of opportunities for undue personal advantage or sordid financial gain and the refusal to participate in anything contrary to Biblical ethics (2 Cor. 12:17-18) and

j. The avoidance of compromise by not being bound together with unbelievers in marriage (includes dating or courting unbelievers or entertaining their courtship) or “in any spiritual enterprise or relationship that would be detrimental to the Christian’s testimony within the Body of Christ.” (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1)

3. The Parameters

Though we emphasize leading a life of holiness, we must carefully guard against pharisaic teaching, legalism, asceticism, antinomianism, “Christian perfectionism”, pietism, mysticism and other distortions of Biblical holiness.

The Evangelization of Unbelievers

Every believer bears the responsibility of learning, understanding and proclaiming the gospel to the world (Matthew 28:18-20). We therefore endorse a lifestyle of evangelism among our members. We, of course, recognize that it is essentially the Holy Spirit who convicts and regenerates the sinner, yet we also acknowledge His use of means, including human agents, to accomplish this work (Rom. 10:14-17).

1. The Pillar

The Scriptures tell us that we are to unashamedly proclaim the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost (Rom. 1:16). This involves compassion for the lost, a sense of urgency in bringing the Gospel to sinners, and even the heart to persuade and plead with all to accept the Lord’s offer of salvation. The presentation of the Gospel must contain these basic ingredients:

a. God is holy and demands holiness from us (1 Pet. 1:16)

b. Man is a sinner, spiritually dead and separated from God (Rom. 3:10-11, 23; Eph. 2:1; Is. 59:2)

c. The judgment for sin is eternal death. (Rom. 6:23; 2 Thess. 1:8-9)

d. The finished and complete atoning work of Jesus Christ alone made possible the salvation of sinners (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Cor. 5:21)

e. Salvation is a free gift, given by the grace of God, and not earned by works (Eph. 2:8-10; Rom. 6:23b)

f. Repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are necessary to appropriate this gift of salvation (Mark 1:15; John 1:12; Rom. 10:9)

g. Submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ is a key ingredient of genuine saving faith (Matt. 7:21-23; Luke 6:46).

2. The Practice

Evangelism in our particular context usually occurs through a one-on-one sharing of the Gospel (Acts 8:26-39) and planned corporate activities of our members like camps, visitation of hospitals, orphanages, and outreaches to other needy sectors in society, sports events, symposiums, seminars, skits, concerts, films, and the like. We also recognize that the fields are ripe for harvest and that the church may engage in mission-sending work—e.g. establishing outreaches or daughter churches, engaging in short-term missions and other ministry opportunities. Evangelistic efforts require discernment and wisdom for each particular situation and full dependence upon the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11).

For a person to become a true believer, he must, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, understand the Gospel and respond in genuine saving faith. Therefore, the sharer must clearly present the Gospel and urge his hearer to repent and believe it.

We likewise see the need for a person to examine himself to determine if he is in the faith according to Scripture (2 Cor. 13:5). However, we recognize that only the Holy Spirit can give true assurance of salvation. We therefore refrain from assuring an individual of his standing in Christ, lest we bring him to a false sense of security and to spiritual ruin.

3. The Parameters

Only trained and duly-recognized members may be involved in the church’s outreach endeavors. Evangelistic activities will not include the collection of money or any form of material remuneration from those being ministered to (Matt. 10:8; 1 Cor. 9:18; 2 Cor. 11:7-9).

The Discipleship of Every Member

Our Lord mandated the Church to make disciples of all believers (Matt. 28:18-20). We take this as our ultimate goal as a church, desiring to “present every man complete in Christ” (Col. 1:28). With this as our objective, the involvement of every member in the church’s program of discipleship is indispensable.

1. The Pillar

We maintain that the test of a congregation, apart from the personal holiness of its members, is based on how effectively those same members are penetrating the world with the Gospel. In many churches, members are not well trained and are ignorant of what Christ has commanded believers to do. As a result their professed beliefs and behavior are not congruent.

The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 calls for three vital actions— going, baptizing and teaching. “Going” is a circumstantial participle that could be understood to mean, “As you are going.” This command simply underscores the point that reaching the world is not for the sedentary.

Therefore, as the believer goes through life, whether he travels from place to place or lives a localized life, he maximizes opportunities to share the Gospel to the lost (Acts 8:4).

The important actions of “baptizing” and “teaching” qualify the main command action of the text. Baptizing converts requires that new believers make a public profession of faith (Acts 2:38). Teaching others to obey covers a broad spectrum of the Christian experience. Its essential thrust is to bring people Scriptural truths that will guide them in their beliefs and practice (Acts 2:42).

The imperative command of the Great Commission is “make disciples.” This is the formula for evangelizing the world and the methodology required to bring reproduction and multiplication to world missions. By specifically commanding the making of disciples, Jesus specified the work of the Church.

It must be emphasized that Christ did not merely say, “Make converts”. Being a convert or a Christian does not necessarily lead to reproduction. Sadly, many believers are spiritually sterile. They do not bring the Gospel cause forward, and they fail to reproduce themselves in the life of others. But a true disciple is healthy and godly and endeavors to reproduce himself. Therefore, disciples and the Biblical disciple-making process solve the crisis at the heart of the church. This is God’s plan for His Body.

At minimum, a disciple publicly affirms his conversion through baptism, and submits to the authority of the leaders of the local church by being taught. He makes himself available for training; he understands the virtue of accountability; he devotes himself to a lifetime of learning.

2. The Practice

Disciple-making in the church happens in three primary settings: the large group, the small group and the one-on-one. The Scripturally-ordained tool of the large group is the preaching of the Word particularly during the Lord’s Day. (The large group may also be ministered unto by doctrinally-sound film, music, and drama. We must stress however that these methods can never replace the primacy of preaching.) The large group method is utilized in worship services, prayer meetings, retreats, activities of special fellowships and demographically-defined groups and short-term training classes.

The small group trains people by instructing them, showing them how and doing it with them. This method of discipling is undertaken primarily in the discipleship cells. It is supplemented with short-term training classes, participation in ministry-related and demographically-defined groups. Believers need basic skills in studying Scripture to obey it and to allow it to renew their minds, Biblical prayer, sharing one’s life with others in the church, and communicating the message of Christ. The controlled environment of the small group can teach and measure the development of these skills. (This form of discipleship also includes one-on-one dynamics or Biblical counseling with every group member—for specific instruction, correction, reproof and training.)

The one-on-one method provides a great deal of precise discipling, particularly when supplemented by homework arising out of the disciple’s life situations and problems and the reading of good, Scriptural books. This method has helped countless people in growing spiritually, and in motivating them to church involvement and ministry in ways no sermon or exhortation can. The keys to the effectiveness of this method are: the Christ like love and shepherding skill of the discipler and the openness, faithfulness and willingness to submit of the disciple. Hence, only individuals who have been properly trained by the Church, are recognized as possessing the necessary gifts, and have been given permission by the leadership will be allowed to undertake this ministry.

Serving in the church is a natural outcome of the discipleship process. Scripture tells us that Jesus taught the disciples to be servants (Matt. 20:25-28). Both by precept and example the Scriptures call on all believers who would be disciples of the Lord to be His servants. The dynamics of discipleship are therefore realized as members commit themselves to various avenues of service in the church.

Effective discipleship can only be undertaken by the church in a context of accountability. It actually provides the individual and the church with the essential discipline and support to reach godly goals. Accountability is necessary because Christians are self-willed. When a system and culture of accountability are properly established in the church, they will facilitate spiritual growth, maintain godliness among the members of the body, and rid the church of people who would pollute, destroy, and bring shame to the name of Christ (Tituss 3:10; 1 Tim. 5:15,19).

3. The Parameters

The discipler must recognize that he is merely an instrument of God’s grace and that it is God alone who can sovereignly transform the disciple’s life.

The discipler must use his God-given influence in ways consistent with the Word of God for the purpose of accomplishing God’s will in the disciple’s life. The discipling relationship should not be used to give the discipler undue control over the disciple. Neither should it result in idolatrous emotional dependence, nor be used for sordid gain.

On the other hand, the disciple must recognize that the discipler is God’s appointed under shepherd in his life.

To uphold blamelessness, we underscore the importance of limiting accountability relationships to people of the same gender. In exceptional cases where the discipler is constrained to minister to a person of the opposite sex, he or she must involve a third party of the same gender as the disciple and must work to disengage from the accountability relationship as quickly as the Lord will allow.

The Oversight of the Flock by the Elders

We submit to the form of church government where authority in the church is exercised by a “plurality of elders” (as differentiated from other widely recognized forms—e.g., congregational, Episcopalian, etc.). In the New Testament, the office of elder carries a tremendous amount of responsibility. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul implies that the elder’s primary responsibility is the care or oversight of the church (Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Pet. 5:2-3). The Greek word used by Paul to describe the duty of overseeing the affairs of the church is "proistemi", which literally means, “to stand first” (1 Tim. 3:4-5, 5:17). When translated, "proistemi" is the word “rule” (1 Tim. 5:17; Rom. 12:6-8—where ruling is listed as a spiritual gift; 1 Thess. 5:12—where it is translated “have charge over”).

1. The Pillar

The topic of church government is theologically significant, extremely practical, and crucial to the proper functioning of the body of Christ. Power-hungry, elaborately- structured local churches have emerged in Christ’s name that are in complete contradiction to our Lord’s teaching on humility, love, sacrificial care and servant hood. Worse, these unscriptural ideas have wrongly elevated men and institutions and have demeaned Christ’s place in the Church. Sadly, many churches remain weak because spiritually immature men lead them. Some of these local churches have abdicated their important Scriptural responsibilities by hiring “professional” ministers whose services can be terminated at their pleasure.

2. The Practice

The distinguishing features of this leadership include:

a. Plurality or shared oversight

The Biblical data indicates that the oversight of the Church is a team effort. The norm in the New Testament church was a plurality of elders. We note that every place in the New Testament where the term ‘presbuteros’ is used, it is plural, except where the Apostle Peter uses it of himself in 1 Pet. 5:1. This concept of shared leadership in the Church provided for mutual encouragement among those who shared in the work, and prevented the rise of the one-pastor church as well as lessened the chance for pride and tyranny in the office.

The elders, therefore, are not just board members of a religious corporation with whom the pastor cautiously consults. The elders, as a body, are tasked with the responsibility of leading, overseeing, shepherding, and caring for the local church. Hence, there is mutual submission among the members of the board of elders.

b. Biblical Qualifications

Those who are to comprise the eldership must meet the moral and spiritual requirements established in the Scriptures (1 Tim. 3:2-7; Titus 1:5-9).

c. Process of Selection

The senior pastor and the board of elders are given the responsibility of inviting individuals to serve as elders in the church. Candidates for these offices will then be tested in the areas of their knowledge of the Scriptures, their ability to teach, and their shepherding skills. The names of the candidates who pass the tests will then be submitted to the official members of the church for confirmation by secret ballot. A candidate must garner a majority vote from the congregation before he is allowed to assume his office (1 Tim. 5:22, 24-25). Whenever possible, candidates for eldership shall be drawn from deacons or vocational minister/deacons.

d. Spirit-imparted Desire

Those who serve as elders must exercise oversight with eagerness, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God (1 Pet. 5:2; Acts 20:28).

e. Humble in Character

The eldership must be a humble body of servant-leaders who sacrificially and lovingly care for the family of God (Matt. 23:1-12; Mark 9:34-35, 10:32-45; 1 Pet. 5:3).

f. Male Leadership

The office of the elder is to be restricted to qualified males (1 Tim. 2:12, 3:1-2; Titus 1:5-6).

g. Submission of the Congregation

The elders are Christ’s under shepherds and stewards, thus the congregation are to obey and submit to their guidance, protection and care (Heb. 13:17). However, there must be close cooperation between the elders and the congregation, for all are under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and His holy Word (1 Thess. 5:12-13).

h. Decision-making

Since the New Testament teaches that God rules His church through a plurality of godly men and since God has only one will, agreement on critical matters has to be unanimous. When Scripture is silent about a certain issue, the eldership will seek to discern the mind of God prayerfully, thoughtfully and patiently until God’s will becomes clear.

i. Assistance from Deacons and Vocational Ministers

The elders shall be assisted in their oversight of the church by deacons/deaconesses and vocational ministers whose qualifications, duties, tenure and manner of selection will be laid down according to Scripture.

j. Disqualification of Elders

The Bible lays down clear requirements for the office of the elder. Anybody serving in this office must maintain the standards set in Scripture (1 Tim. 3:1-7; 2 Tim. 2:15; Titus 1:6-9). Failure to do so will result in his disqualification. Needless to say, the discipline or disqualification of an elder is a serious matter; hence the Church must carefully follow the guidelines set by Paul in 1 Timothy 5:19-20. If the accusation of sin against an elder is proven to be true, he is to be rebuked publicly by his peers in the eldership, and where necessary, dismissed from office. This measure is established in order to maintain the holiness and purity of the Church.

k. Tenure

Elders serve for life unless they are disqualified or have compelling reasons to resign their office, e.g., physical incapacity, family problems, relocation to another country, change of ministry calling. Such reasons however are subject to the confirmation by his peers in the eldership. Where there is a possibility of reinstatement, the eldership shall evaluate his reentry and prescribe a process of confirmation.

l. Accountability

Each elder shall be accountable to his peers for the evaluation of his life and doctrine and for discipleship.

3. The Parameters

Elders must never wield their authority in a heavy-handed way, use manipulative tactics, or be arrogant, or aloof. They must not enslave others or create a repressive atmosphere. They must never use their office for the purpose of material gain or prominence. They must always bear the marks of humble servanthood and be accountable to the church for their behavior or conduct (1 Pet. 5:1-4). In disciplining or disqualifying an elder, it is absolutely essential that the grounds for disqualification be Biblical—not merely because of prejudice, resentment, or sinful majority vote.

The Pastoral Ministry

The Church is continually subjected to secular, cultural pressures. As a result, the role of the pastor has experienced serious challenges as well. Pastoral theology however must flow out of Scripture, not out of the culture. It is God’s Word that must set the criteria for establishing and pursuing ministry work. Hence, we must not exchange the “user-friendly,” “purpose-driven,” “seeker-sensitive” use of demographic and cultural analysis for the far more important understanding of God’s revealed will in the Scriptures.

1. The Pillar

Pastors assume a huge responsibility when they take on the task of shepherding God’s flock (Heb. 13:17, 1 Pet. 5:1-4, 1 Cor. 4:1-5). And the benchmark by which God will commend or condemn the labor of the pastor is God’s Word. The approach to ministry that a pastor is to employ must, therefore, not be man-centered, consumer-driven, need-based, and culturally-defined. Instead, God’s work in the Church must characteristically be God-focused, Biblically-defined and Scripturally-prioritized.

2. The Practice

a. The Work of the Pastor

A pastor (whether the senior pastor or an associate pastor) is a vocational elder—meaning, he is engaged in his work full-time. His primary activities include:

  • Praying (1 Thess. 1:2-3,3:9-13)
  • Evangelizing (1 Thess. 1:4 -5,9-10)
  • Equipping (1 Thess. 1:6-8)
  • Defending (1 Thess. 2:1-6)
  • Loving(1 Thess. 2:7-8)
  • Laboring (1 Thess. 2:9)
  • Modeling (1 Thess. 2:10)
  • Leading (1 Thess. 2:10-12)
  • Feeding (1 Thess. 2:13)
  • Watching (1 Thess. 3:1-8)
  • Warning (1 Thess. 4:1-8)
  • Teaching (1 Thess. 4:9-5:11)
  • Exhorting (1 Thess. 5:12-24)
  • Encouraging (2 Thess. 1:3-12)
  • Correcting (2 Thess. 2:1-12)
  • Confronting (2 Thess. 3:14)
  • Rescuing (2 Thess. 3:15)

b. Male Leadership

The office of the pastor is restricted to qualified males (1 Tim. 2:12).

c. Tenure

Pastors serve for life unless they are disqualified or have compelling reasons to resign their office, e.g., physical incapacity, family problems, relocation to another country, change of ministry calling. Such reasons however are subject to confirmation by the eldership. Where there is a possibility of reinstatement, the eldership shall evaluate his reentry and prescribe a process of confirmation.

d. Relationship with the Elders

The senior pastor is the presiding elder of the board of elders. He makes himself accountable to the other elders for the evaluation of his life and doctrine.

e. The Pastoral Staff

It is composed of vocational pastors and ministers under the leadership of the senior pastor. It may include women (vocational ministers who may or may not be deaconesses) who minister to other women, youth and children (Tituss 2:3-5) and vocational minister trainees.

f. Financial Support

The pastoral staff is not salaried and is supported by church members through their tithes and offerings and other forms of giving. The church leadership may also opt to use church funds to provide for certain of their needs as they see fit.

g. Qualifications

Vocational pastors and ministers must meet the moral and spiritual requirements established in Scripture (1 Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9). They must likewise show clear evidence of a Spirit-imparted desire and gifting (1 Pet. 5:1-3, 1 Tim. 3:1, 4:12-16).

h. Confirmation process

The calling of all vocational pastors and ministers is subject to testing and confirmation by the board of elders.

3. The Parameters

The pastor must be driven by a concern for God, His glory and His truth and not by a desire for ego fulfilment and a need to be in charge. No one dominated by self is fit for the pastoral ministry (Matt. 20:25-26). The pastor must not be self-willed; instead, he must be open to other people’s ideas. Most of all, he needs to seek out the mind and heart of God and to do only what God wants done in His church.

 



Passion for the Word

Aug 21 to 27 -- Colossians 3:16 (NASB 1977) Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

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