“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.” – Ephesians 4:11
Scripture uses synonymous words such as elders, overseers, bishops, and shepherds to describe biblical leadership, thus providing a comprehensive meaning and application to what it means to be a godly leader. To be a church leader, one must first measure up to the traits and qualifications that are set by Scriptures. Elders and deacons must maintain these qualities in their lives if they are to stay in their leadership roles. It is important that every godly leader must first understand what God would have him be, before he takes steps toward what God would have him do. The establishment of the church and the office of elders and deacons was set to lead the church congregation.
Christ appointed elders as leaders and ordained them with authority to lead and make judgments among the people (Matthew 10:1-42; 18:18-20). Elders are to be always active in Word and prayer, and responsible in overseeing all aspects of church’s ministry. This means that elders must be informed and involved in important decisions of the church. Yet the daily management of church administration (such as church finances, church facilities, or equipment and ministry programs), should be handled by deacons, administrative office staff, and other faithful church leaders. In this way, church members are able to serve the Body of Christ in accordance with their spiritual gifts, and the elders are able to devote themselves to the ministry of the Word and prayer. Scripture clearly teaches that the office of elder must be filled distinctly by men. The Bible describes women and men as fully equal in personhood and spirituality, but unique in their gender roles (1 Timothy 2:9-15; Galatians 3:28; 1 Corinthians 11:3-11). These differences are something to be enjoyed, explored more fully, and developed throughout life.
Elders of the church are to be assisted by biblically qualified deacons who are nominated by the congregation, approved by the Board of Elders, and affirmed by the congregation. The role of a deacon is to help the elders attend to the people’s many practical needs (Acts 6:1-6). Deacons are the church’s ministers of mercy and are responsible to serve the congregation. This includes, but not limited to, the care of all matters pertaining to the physical properties and the finances of the church (with the oversight of the elders), caring for the needs of the church’s widows and orphans (administrating the benevolence fund), and ushering during the church services.
The church must appoint church administration leaders who would assist the elders and deacons in organization of church ministry, and with the operations that govern that organization. Church administration is a means for serving people effectively, while making efficient use of resources in a manner that glorifies God. Church administrators should be spiritually mature, and able to work well with others. Also, they should be able to plan, organize, delegate, oversee and evaluate ministry wisely according to biblical principles and goals. Church elders are responsible to oversee all aspect of church’s ministry, including the service of church administration. Church leaders (elders, deacons, and administration) should also gather periodically to share in the all of the things that are going on in the church. With a healthy leadership team, the church will be united in pursuing its goal, “Glorifying God!”
“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” – Ephesians 6:18
Scripture commands believers to pray in the Spirit at all times. We believe that the local church is to have a high view of prayer. The word “prayer” should be understood as man’s speech addressed to God. Praying is not the same thing as wishing; the difference being in that; praying we address our communication specifically to God, whereas in wishing we simply voice our desire. Prayer is thus distinguished from mental meditation, in that it is always expressed verbally in a logical language (including silent prayers). Prayer to God recognizes Him as the ultimate cause of all events, and acknowledges Him as having providential control over the world. We believe that our confidence rests in the God who controls every single molecule throughout history. This God sovereignly commands us, in Scriptures, that we are to pray!
According to Scriptures, praying involves a personal relationship between God and man. True prayer regards God as a person, who hears and reacts to prayer. Therefore, a person who prays, must be reverent, submissive, sincere, believing, and obedient. A number of passages emphasizes the fact that there must be faith in our prayers (Mark 11:24; James 1:5-8). Prayer is to be done by all Christians and at all age levels. We understand that prayer does not change God’s will, instead it makes our requests known to God and calibrates our hearts to get it in line with God’s will.
Elders are to pray for the church body regularly, obeying Scriptures to be giving themselves up to “the word and prayer” (Acts 6:4; 1 Tim 4:13-16; 1 Thess. 5:17). We believe that all church elders and leaders must be intentional in organizing and attending prayer meetings and praying for every member of the congregation. Elders are to meet once a month to conduct corporate prayer for the church body. Members of the church should also be growing in the spiritual discipline of prayer. Prayer groups should pray for, but not be limited to, God’s will to be done in the church, physical and spiritual health of church elders and leaders, pastors Sunday sermon, church needs, church growth, church unity, protection from the enemy, necessities of life, forgiveness of sins, success in sanctification, good health for members, special requests, for God to bring new visitors into the church, and for new conversions. We believe that the success, of any church, is not to be measured in its glamour, but in its faithfulness. Prayer is essential for church members to be faithful.
We believe that prayer should have prominence in worship services. Church services are to begin and end with prayer. Sunday services should employee a designated time of public Scripture reading followed by prayer of an elder (1 Timothy 4:13). The posture for prayer, in Sunday worship services, is to be standing for reasons of tradition (not because other postures are worse). We believe that all postures of prayer are acceptable to God; as seen in various passages of Scriptures (praying silently – 1 Samuel 1:12-13, bowed head – Luke 18:13; eyes lifted toward heaven – Matt 14:19; John 11:41; 17:1; sitting – Nehemiah 1:4; 1 Kings 19:4; 2 Samuel 7:18; standing – Mark 11:25; Luke 18:13-14; and kneeling or falling down – Luke 22:41; Matthew 26:39; Acts 9:40; 20:36; 21:5). Elders are to make an assertive effort to promote prayer amongst the members by personal example and by encouraging the church body to grow in this area of life.
Preaching and Teaching
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” – 2 Timothy 4:2
Scripture is explicit in that the main priority of church’s worship services is the equipping of the saints, and this can only be accomplished by preaching and teaching of God’s word. Jesus Himself, in His earthly ministry, preached the Old Testament Scriptures in the temple and thus, set the example (Matthew 11:1; Luke 4:17). After the day of Pentecost, the apostles had followed Christ’s example and taught every day, also preaching in the temple and traveling from house to house “teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus” (Acts 5:42). Paul, explains in his letter to Corinthians, that their ministry is not about preaching and teaching popular theories, or Greek mythology; but instead he says, “We preach Christ crucified… Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). Paul tells the young church that elders who are ruling well, especially those who are laboring in preaching and teaching, are to be “considered worthy of double honor” (1 Timothy 5:17). The prominence of preaching and teaching Scriptures is so crucial; that Paul commands young Timothy to “Preach the Word!”
The priority of all church ministries must be in preaching and teaching of Scriptures. Everything else in the church must flow from this main priority. Preaching the Word, gives church members the needed knowledge of the truth, and produces in them godliness. Jesus said that the Word sanctifies us (John 17:17), by transforming us into Christ-likeness, and renewing us in our minds. Without the preaching and teaching of God’s word, Christians are left to their own devices to guess and default to human opinion and preferences in every area of Christian life. But preaching the Word encourages believers to live in hope and strengthens them to endure suffering (Acts 14:21-22). Preaching the Word, is therefore the most essential element of church life and ministry (Titus 2:1). Through the preaching of God’s Word, Christ saves, sanctifies, and strengthens His church. The difference between preaching and teaching can be summarized in that preaching includes a vigorous call to respond, it is more gospel-focused, and does not include dialog between the speaker and listeners. Teaching, on the other hand, is more detailed with a higher expectation of the listener’s response, there is dialog in the form of question answer and discussion, and is more topical and technical at times.
We believe the best way to preach God’s Word is in the expositional method. Expository preaching can be defined as explaining Scripture by establishing its meaning in its own context, clarifying what is difficult to understand, and then making appropriate application for our lives in our context derived from the lesson of the text (Nehemiah 8:8). This will come primarily from selecting a book of the Bible (either Old Testament or New Testament), and then teaching it in a verse-by-verse manner, paying close attention to the literal-grammatical-historical aspect of each passage. Consecutive exposition can have many varieties of pace. Depending on the goal of the pastor and the needs of the congregation, an exposition of a particular book might range from months to years. There is great value in consecutive exposition through a book of the Bible, in that every theological area of the book is treated equally in depth, and the congregation learns far more than just about that particular book. A faster pace can also be used for some books as a broad overview to demonstrate the theme of particular book. It also may become appropriate to preach occasionally a topical sermon, which would address a particular Christian living topic such as “service, fellowship, marriage/family, unity, freedom vs. preference, giving, accountability, etc.”
We believe that all preaching should be Christological (proclaiming Christ), applicational (warning everyone), effectual (teaching everyone with all wisdom), doxological (presenting everyone mature in Christ), and promoting a high view of God. Sunday evening, or weekday Bible hour service, would be ideal for doctrinal preaching “What doctrines every Christian needs to know” (or an exposition of systematic theology). Doctrines that would be covered include, but are not limited to: “God and the Trinity, the person and work of Christ, creation and the fall, salvation, sin and holiness, the nature of Scriptures, spiritual growth, heaven and hell, and the second coming of Christ.” The main goal of preaching is to be faithful to the text. We are conscience in the fact that if we please God, it does not matter whom we displease. And if we displease God, it does not matter whom we please. We believe that relying upon worldly methods to present this gospel is unacceptable for those whom God had commissioned.
We believe that it is mainly the pastor’s task to faithfully feed the flock with the pure milk of the Word; trusting God for the resulting growth. However, other elders of this church should have the occasional opportunity to preach also. Godly men, who are in training, and are approved by the elder board; will also have the opportunity to preach occasionally. All visitors who desire to preach in this church, should first come to the elder board and get proper approval from all of the elders. It is the task of the elders to guard the flock from any confusion and or heresy.
Having established the importance of preaching, we call upon the body of believers, assembled within this church, to faithfully and attentively commit themselves, to hear and obey the preached Word of God. “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22).
“Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.” – Psalm 33:3
Scripture explains the importance of music ministry in church worship. We believe that it is the church’s responsibility to be striving for musical excellency. The Lord is great and is most worthy of praise (Psalm 48:1; 145:3). Music and singing helps to express a thankful heart. In the book of Colossians, we are told to align ourselves with a heart of worship by singing (Colossians 3:16). This means that singing engages the whole heart and mind of the person to cause him to remember important Biblical truths. Music is a very powerful teaching device and it needs to be theological (words matter: the content is what feeds our people). The congregation must sing with understanding that it is the “Truth” that drives our affections. We believe that it is important to recognize the culture and values of the church and thus center the music ministry appropriate to the culture.
We believe that it is the responsibility of the elders to appoint a mature, God fearing man to be the worship minister/leader. It is important that the pastor partners up with the worship leader to build a relationship and to invest in him, lead him, disciple him, teach him, and cultivate a pastoral heart within him. The worship leader must take on the responsibility of planning and the preparation of each service. The pastor is to organize weekly meetings (either in person or by phone) to discuss the upcoming services and what the Sunday sermons will be about. It is critically important for elders and the worship leader to be united in goals and purposes. The worship leader must respect the elders and follow in the direction that they are leading the church. Elders are to respect the calling and capacity of the worship leader, and let him lead the church in the way that unleashes him to express his passion. It is important for the pastor to display the unity between him and the worship leader by encouraging him, thanking him publically, and even helping him to go to certain conferences.
Church choirs are a great way for members to get plugged into Sunday services and become a part of ministry that enhances worship. Choirs are to be arranged by the music minister, and those who desire to be a part of the choir must first audition to promote excellency. Those who desire to participate in Sunday services with solos, duets, or groups, must come before the service to the elders and make their request known. It is the elder’s responsibility to evaluate the style and the content of songs sang in the services. Church services should be structured in a systematic way where it would assist the members to enhance their worship and prepare their hearts for preaching of God’s word. An example of a typical church service is to begin with prayer, then a call to worship (either by choir/group or congregational singing), followed by two congregational songs that speak of the affirmation of our faith, then public reading of Scripture and prayer of an elder, then another choir/group song (confession of sin), then church announcements and prayer for the offering, as the offering is being conducted a solo could be sang (group song or choir is also appropriate), then the preaching of God’s Word, then pastor’s prayer, then a concluding congregational song that speaks of the assurance of pardon, in the conclusion of service an elder will end with prayer. In our church/musical worship, it is our goal to promote the unity of the church.
We believe that in worship, the content is the most important thing. Jesus said that God is looking for worshippers who are worshipping Him in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:23-24). This means that all of our music must be acknowledging who God is, exalting the cross and the greatness of Jesus Christ, reverent, beautiful in melody, orderly, and made for congregational participation. We believe that it is inappropriate to have music in the church that promotes disorder (1 Corinthians 14). At the same time, we acknowledge that the style of music is a “preferential issue,” and that members are not to object in having a wide variety of musical styles. We believe that the vast variety of songs cannot be embodied into one musical form or style. Scripture also instructs us to praise God by utilizing tastefully all kinds of instruments: the brass, the strings, the woodwinds, the percussion, and everything else in between, in an orderly manner that makes melodious music (Psalm 98:5-6; 150:3-5). It is important that members of the church are under the influence and presence of Holy Spirit during worship service (the content of church worship must be Biblically sound). By basing our music ministry on Biblical principles, we will develop and promote a passionate, excellent, musical worship ministry.
“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” – Psalm 127:3
Scripture explains that children are a wonderful blessing from the Lord, and it is essential for the church to have a developed ministry for them. The local church should be intentional to show children who God is through the Word of God, so that they will be convinced of their local condition and turn to Christ for salvation. The church is also to promote Scripture’s teaching on being a godly parent, and the responsibility of children to respond to this godly parenting. The church is also to take into account that there may be visiting children who come from broken homes, and that children ministry is an avenue where they can experience God’s love. We are not against “family integrated” churches (as long as they not mandate their preference and force it on our church) who have no children ministry; but believe that children ministry is valuable for the church body, and that there are appropriate ministries for different ages.
We believe that God is the designer of the family where children are to be raised being fruitful (Psalm 128:3). This means that both parents are to be godly in their personal life at home, disciplining their children and instructing them to what God’s Word requires of them. Christian parents are to be the primary influence on their own children (Ephesians 6:4), making them “set apart” from the modern culture (1 Corinthians 7:14). Children are born sinners (Genesis 3:6-7; Psalm 51:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10, 5:12), therefore they will automatically rebel against their parents, which is ultimately against the Lord (Proverbs 22:15; Romans 3:10-12). Parents must lovingly administer discipline to their children, guiding them to turn away from their sin to Christ (Proverbs 13:24; 19:18; 23:13-14). Scripture exhorts parents, not only to pray for their children, but also gives the Biblical mandate to instruct their children in the Law of God and its daily application (Deuteronomy 6:2-9); this can be conducted through daily devotions, and life on life lessons.
We believe that children also have a Biblical mandate to obey God’s word. We believe that the church is to encourage children to take positive steps toward God from their earliest days (Matthew 21:15-16; Mark 10:13-16). The little Samuel is a good example for children to follow, who grew “in stature and in favor both with the Lord and with men” (1 Samuel 2:26). Children are commanded to obey their parents in the Lord and to honor their father and mother (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; Colossians 3:2; Ephesians 6:1-3). When children obey their parents, Scripture promises them a blessed and protected life (Proverbs 1:8-19; 3:1-2; 5:1-2). Obedience to Scripture will gain children the “wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).
We believe that the church is also to influence the children, through the preaching and teaching of God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16, 4:1-2). We believe that children of all ages are capable of hearing regular biblical exposition (age-appropriate level). This means that teachers who teach children must emphasize the gospel as priority. The gospel must never be watered down or made “easier” for children than for adults (i.e. ask Jesus into your heart); instead it must be presented in a complete and accurate way (i.e. deny self, take up cross and follow Jesus – Matthew 16:24). It is important to not coerce children, or manipulate them to respond to God’s offer of salvation. Man-centered methods (such as altar calls, raising hands, coming forward, etc.), are not to be used. Children can feel a great sense of peer pressure and consequently be given a false assurance of salvation. Teachers, sharing the gospel, are to encourage children to ask questions and talk to leaders and elders about their concern for salvation. When conducting children’s lessons; teachers are to be very discerning about the songs that they teach children to sing, making sure that songs are gospel focused and that they teach great truths about God and not just fun songs to sing.
Children ministry’s purpose is not to just have fun activities (even though there is nothing wrong in making learning about God fun), but to expose the children to the gospel. We believe that it is appropriate to use the “Generation of Grace” curriculum (developed at Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, CA) – which is a program taking children through the entire Bible in three years. It is written for three different age levels (ages 3-5; ages 6-8; ages 9-11), and is designed so that children of all ages are studying the same lesson each week. Parents can follow up with their children, after services, and ask what their children had learned in their lesson (because their children had all learned the same lesson, it will stimulate a better family conversation after church). We believe that a mid-week children ministry, such as AWANA, is also profitable for children to memorize gospel-centered verses. Children choirs and bands help to teach them the necessary disciplines of praising God together (Psalm 34:3). Church members should be accepting in having occasional children services, where children can worship God with their musical talents. Church must strive to have an active children ministry.
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.” – Psalm 119:9
Scripture explains that there is a way for youth to keep their way pure; it is by living in accordance to God’s Word! We believe that many of the aspects that pertain to children’s ministry, also pertains to youth ministry. The parents have the same obligation of being a good influence on their children, disciplining them, and instructing them in righteousness. The youth are to also obey their parents as being obedient to the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-3). The church is to assist the parents by teaching and preaching Scriptures. It is the youth’s responsibility to obey God’s word and live in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. We believe that it is important to not neglect our youth and provide for them an atmosphere where they can learn and be challenged to walk in accordance to God’s Word. For more explanation of why we focus on children, please see above section titled as “Children Ministries.”
We believe that in most churches, there is a disconnect between the ministry goals of adults and youth. Usually this is evident in that “adult ministries,” have vigorous Bible learning goal, while “youth ministry” is where the younger generation feeds itself “spiritual baby-food,” and entertains itself at any cost. We believe that it is therefore essential to have sound preaching of Scripture in the youth. This means that the gospel must remain central in youth ministry, and that they are expected to uphold the same standard as is expected in adult ministry. It is important to not coerce the youth, or manipulate them to respond to God’s offer of salvation. Man-centered methods (such as altar calls, raising hands, coming forward, etc.), are not to be used. Youth can feel a great sense of peer pressure and consequently be given a false assurance of salvation. Instead the pure gospel is to be preached under the presumption of Acts 13:48; which assures us that all who are appointed to eternal life will believe. It is not the job of leaders to save the youth; instead the gospel is the means by which He saves, and we are to simply be continually faithful in sharing the good news.
Youth ministry is to be led by trained assistant leaders, approved and appointed by the elders. After the preaching of God’s Word, formed group discussions are to follow. When the youth group reaches a size that is unfeasible for everyone to participate, the youth should break into smaller-groups to have discussions. In these discussions, the youth should have an opportunity to respond to the preaching as well as give the youth leaders an opportunity to interact with the youth and discern where the youth may be in their faith. Those who are leading the youth ministry are to be selective in the songs that they lead in singing. Songs should be gospel-focused and teach the great truth about God. Leaders also are to be intentional in praying with the youth that they are shepherding. We understand that in the youth there will likely be a mixture of saved and unsaved, so all youth activities should be gospel driven; so that the saved would continue in their sanctification and the unsaved would be exposed to the gospel.
Youth activities are a great tool for fostering connections and fellowship among the youth and youth leaders. We believe that it is appropriate to conduct youth special services, camps, retreats, and conferences; so that youth can reinforce lessons taught from Scriptures. Youth is also to engage in community outreach to evangelize college campuses and parks. Youth can also occasionally conduct fundraising for their planned activities (such as carwashes, bake stands, coffee booths, etc.). All youth activities are to be discussed and approved between the youth leaders and the church elders. Youth are to also strive in praising God through their musical talents and be active in perfecting their singing and musical giftedness. Youth leaders organize mid-week events, fellowship hour, Bible studies, etc. We believe that our youth will one day replace us; therefore, it is profitable for them to be active in the local church.
“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” – 1 Peter 1:13-16
Scripture exhorts mature believers to action by serving one another and by striving for holiness. We believe that the church is that place where members can be reminded, equipped, and challenged to reach those goals. The purpose of ministering to adults is to promote continuous change; if Christians, in the church, are going to be more like Christ, then they are going to change! This change is known as “the process of sanctification,” and can only be achieved by God’s truth (John 17:17). We believe that expository preaching of Scripture is essential for Christian adults. As a result of adult ministry, the church will have a high view of God, a biblical fear of God, a right understanding of man, and a correct view of salvation. Scripture also makes it clear that a biblically driven ministry cultivates fellowship with one another in the Body of Christ (1 John 1:3-7).
Scripture explains that God has given the church some as pastors and teachers, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-14). Elders have the responsibility to give members of the church preaching and teaching of God’s Word, and to provide the opportunity for the work of service. Sermons will exposit the read text in its context, and challenge the members to examine their life in how it measures up to God’s Word. Through the preaching of God’s Word, members will have the responsibility to strive in pursuing obedience to what was taught. Obedience to God’s Word will result in a humbler congregation and a church body that has an attitude and values that are set apart from this world.
We believe that every believer has been given a special gift, which is some kind of ability to minister to others in the church body (1 Peter 4:10; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:11). This means that every member is a minister; therefore, as soon as one becomes a member of the church, he is required to serve in some capacity in the church. Elders will both teach and encourage all believers to use their giftedness and be active in the Body of Christ. This is a service that is accomplished for the benefit of others both in the church and outside the church. Service inside the church is characterized by using one’s giftedness to “care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:1-25). Service outside the church includes being “salt” and “light” (Matthew 5:13-16), and in the process, proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world (Matthew 25:32-45). With every believer serving in some capacity; the church will be “built up” (Acts 2:42), in loving each other, communication, grace, and become a Biblical model church.
Adult ministry is also about Biblical shepherds having oversight over the church members (John 21:15-19). This involves oversight required by descriptions of Psalm 23, John 10, and elsewhere… We agree with MacArthur, that the church’s most important function is to equip the saints by proclaiming the word of God in an understandable, direct, and authoritative way (MacArthur, Jr., The Master’s Plan for the Church, Moody Press, 1991, p. 57-58). Gifted men in the church are to equip adults for ministry, by preaching and teaching Scripture. Elder’s ministry to the adult ministries are not limited to just “feeding” the members with Scripture, but rather to the complete care of all members, including leading, cleaning, bandaging, nurturing, protecting, and every other aspect of the tender shepherd’s loving care.
“Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”- 2 Peter 1:3-4
Scripture explains that the “church” holds God’s Word and therefore is fully sufficient to give its people counsel that would help members deal with sin and with spiritual growth. This means that the Bible is the only source to address spiritual issues. Physical abnormalities, which all result from the fall, must be diagnosed and treated under the care of a medical doctors; even though we acknowledge that some physical ailments can stem out of spiritual illnesses. The guilt of sin can cause devastating effects on the body; as seen in David’s declaration (Ps. 32:3-4). We believe that the church is to provide Biblical counseling to its members who are struggling in specific areas of their spiritual life. Experienced elders are to counsel through the most difficult situations. This means Christians already have the needed support and the wise counsel in their own church body. Therefore, it is every church member’s responsibility to seek out counseling when issues and struggles arise.
Elders of the church should not object to give counsel to fellow believers. Instead, it is the elders’ duty to promote counseling by teaching occasionally what Scripture says about Biblical counseling. Jesus’s words, recorded in John 17:17, confirmed that Scripture is the only legitimate means to sanctify the redeemed. The goal of Biblical counseling is to identify the heart idol, and deal with it as a sin. The only way Christians will ever overcome their problems, is by learning how to replace their worship of their idols, with renewing their mind and worshiping God alone.
The task of counseling is not only limited to pastors and elders. In Romans 15:14, Paul reminds the church “Concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to admonish one another.” This means that all members of the church, who have been regenerated, are to engage in caring and helping fellow believers with pursuing holiness (as seen in Titus 2:3-5 “older women counseling younger women”). But any counsel that is given; must be in accord with Scripture, with no integration of any philosophical or psychological methods. This means that Biblical Counseling is more than just behavior modification, instead it is the actual process of sanctification; which deals specifically with the heart. Because of Biblical counseling, the church will grow together in maturity and sanctification.
“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” – 2 Timothy 2:2
Scripture explains that godly men should always be striving to build themselves into other men. Jesus’s great commission commanded disciples to make disciples of others (Matthew 28:18-20). The author of Hebrews instructed believers to be “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb 6:12; 13:7, 9). Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians was, “be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Following these examples, we believe that it is the responsibility of mature Christian men to invest themselves in discipling younger men. Jesus said that every disciple, when fully trained, will be just like his teacher (Luke 6:40). It is through discipleship, that men get to best know their leaders and elders, and are helped to grow more and more into Christlikeness.
Discipleship is an intentional relationship for the stimulation of growth. Elders, leaders, and mature Christian men are to purposefully build relationship with younger men to shepherd them in their walk with the Lord. All discipleship is to be theological, based on Scripture, and be ongoing continuously. Discipleship is not just a mere men’s breakfast, but instead it is “training” in godliness and a source to promote accountability. We believe that every person has a sovereign call, and through discipleship, mature men in the faith can help “identify” how the man is built, and how he can be best used for ministry. We understand that it is God who sovereignly ordains certain men into certain ministries; but Scripture teaches that apostles and elders were involved in identifying those who the Lord had chosen (Acts 6:3).
The purpose of discipleship is to promote younger men to study the Scriptures, to be more committed to Christ (rejecting idols and fleeing sin), to build up godly character (being honest about bents, sins, weaknesses, gifts), to build chemistry in the church body, to teach compassion, to practice control (being disciplined, hard-working, effective in life), to promote confession (being sincere and humble), and to promote being consistent. Discipleship is also a great way for mature men to model how a Christian marriage looks like, and what it means to be a Christian parent (proper training of their kids). Those who disciple others must never compromise truth; but be faithful in being obedient to the truth as good examples.
Those who are being discipled, must understand that they have the responsibility to grow and get Biblically tougher as men. Ultimately, it is men that Scripture appoints as responsible for their families and therefore they must become good leaders. A proper mindset is expected from those who are being discipled (i.e. growing in being a godly man, or die). It is also expected of men who are being discipled, that they involve themselves in ministry while they are being trained. It is also the responsibility of the disciple to make every effort to be in church every week, be faithful in everything that they do, come early to meetings, and building meaningful relationships with other men who are also striving for the same goals. Through discipleship, the church will raise their own men who will become good leaders, missionaries, deacons, and elders.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”- 1Peter 1:9
Scripture explains that we are a chosen people for God’s own possession “so that” we may “proclaim the excellencies of Him.” We believe that this proclamation is one of the most important responsibilities of the church. Evangelism is explicitly taught by Jesus Himself, who instructed His disciples to go and “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:18-20). The god of this world has “blinded the minds of unbelievers” (2 Cor. 4:4). The purpose of evangelism is to proclaim the Gospel message so that the blind would gain sight. The only thing that is going to open blind eyes and minds, is God’s sovereign regeneration through the proclamation of His Gospel.
The church, as a corporate body, has to be evangelistic in nature. Worship services need to be evangelistic, because there may be children, youth, and or visitors who may need to hear the Gospel. Evangelism is not to be limited only to worship services, instead it must also be a priority for individual members as well. Church members must be evangelistic in their daily life, whether it is at work, school, or in public places. In order for members to become more familiar with evangelism, local church elders should conduct training with the focus of getting the gospel message right, rather than using a specific technique or method. Evangelism must be grounded in the correct understanding of God’s sovereignty (Acts 13:48) and in prayer. We believe that the gospel itself is the power for salvation (Rom. 1:16-17); therefore, no additional shenanigans are necessary to help convince people to believe. There is no perfect method for evangelism, any and every creative means possible should be utilized to get the gospel message to the lost.
God sovereignly ordains local churches to be planted in specific communities; therefore, we must accept that we must evangelize the community which we have been placed into. Local outreach is essential to Evangelism and should be practiced autonomously or by partnering with other churches in the area. Corporate events and organizations can be productive, as long as they are not draining time and resources. Elders are to appoint a qualified individual who can oversee outreach, and help him plan the different aspects of local outreach events, such as: “community or open air preaching, door to door evangelism, special evangelistic events, and or evangelism through the social media.” Members of the church are to support this effort by being personally involved, praying, and giving financially. Even though the church must be open to accept new converts to its membership, and offering believing college students a home church away from their home; actual success of evangelism is not to be measured in the increase of church attendance; but instead, in the faithfulness of proclaiming the gospel.
We believe that the church also must engage in global missions by training their own men to go out into areas where the gospel must be preached. The church should not detest any financial support to those who are active in fulfilling the great commission in other countries. Trained missionaries that are sent out by this church, should be sent with the church’s love, blessings, and support, with a special degree of care. Elders of the local church are to decide the percentages of finances that should be allocated to categories such as local outreach and global missions.
“And when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” – 1 Corinthians 11:24-26
Scripture explicitly shows how Jesus left two ordinances for His church to fulfill. These ordinances are baptism and communion. The purpose of communion on the day of Passover, was that Jesus identified Himself as the Passover Lamb; thus the ultimate Lamb! We believe that the elements of the communion did not change during the Lord’s last supper; nor do they change now during our ceremony. The bread remains bread and the wine remains wine; there is no spiritual change that occurs to these elements, neither after prayer, nor after they are ingested by us. Communion is only symbolic and identifies us with Christ’s suffering and reminds us that Christ is present within us. The first church, as is evident by the letter to Corinthians, already was regularly engaging in conducting the Lord’s supper. We believe that elders of this church are to periodically teach about the importance of having regular communion, stressing the significance of Christ being the substitutionary Lamb, His sacrifice for our sins, and the benefits that believers receive in His sacrifice!
Scripture shows that the first apostolic church, frequently practiced communion (Acts 2:42, 20:7). At the same time, nowhere does it command us to do it by a specific schedule, such as which day, time of day, or even frequency during a day. Thus the Lord allows the local church to decide for themselves as to when and how often to conduct communion. We believe that if communion is done too often (i.e. every service), it will lose an aspect of its significance. At the same time, it is evident that Scripture shows that the first church did indeed conduct it often (i.e. more than just once a year). It is also clear that Paul instructs the churches to do it as an act of remembrance that will benefit the church body, and we are to do it until Christ’s return. Therefore, we conclude that it is right to conduct communion every first Lord’s day of the month.
When conducting communion, elders of the church will seek to create an atmosphere of reverence. Church members are to have an opportunity to think through Christ’s sacrifice and how it impacts their eternity. During communion Sunday, special music will be sought and preaching will adhere to the theme of Christ being our substitute for sin. We also believe that communion is one of the means of church discipline (Scripture teaches withholding communion to rebellious members), therefore it is only appropriate for members of the church; thus participants have to be first baptized. If a church member has an un-repented sin, he should not engage in communion (as is evident in the severe consequences of doing so 1 Corinthians 11:27-32). Members of the church are strongly encouraged to frequently examine themselves and thereby participate in communion.
The process of communion includes: communion elements being set up before service, the bread/wafers into a plate as individual pieces, and wine will be poured into individual small communion cups. After Scripture reading and prayer, elders will pass around the bread to members, who will patiently wait until everyone has a part. Then, with the pastor, everyone will take part together in consuming the bread. After the consuming of bread, wine will be passed out to members, who will patiently wait until everyone has a cup. Then with the pastor, everyone will take part together in consuming the wine. Communion will conclude with corporate prayer concluded by pastor’s prayer. Thus we fulfill the ordinance of Christ.
“For the body is not one member, but many… But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body.” – 1 Corinthians 12:14-19
Scripture explains that the church body must consist of individual members who are useful to each other. The local church is a place where a Christian finds his spiritual identity and where he can exercise his spiritual giftedness. The idea of utilizing our giftedness to serve Christ’s body is also seen in analogies that describe the church being: “the family of God” (Mark 3:33-34; 1 John 5:1; Matthew 6:9), “the building of God” (Matthew 16:18; 1 Peter 2:4-5; Ephesians 2:19-22), and “the flock of God” (John 10; 1 Peter 2:25; 5:1-4). Without the membership of a local church; Christians would not have a place to express their contributions to the Body of Christ. The practice of joining a specific church body can also be observed in the accounting of people being added to the first century church in Jerusalem (Acts 1:14; 2:41; 4:4). This Jerusalem church would later send a letter commending the ministry of Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas to the local church of Antioch (note that this is another local body of believers) (Acts 15:23-31). The same can be said about all of Paul’s epistles to the various churches located in different areas of the world. We believe that there is great spiritual significance in becoming a member of a local church.
To become a member of this local church, one must go through the church’s membership process and be baptized. If the person is already baptized and is coming from another church, he must then have a letter of commendation from the church that he has left; if the person’s departure of the previous church was not blessed by his previous church, elders must research the situation and evaluate if the person can join this church. The church’s membership process and classes; will be adopted from Grace Community Church until the elders of the local church can develop their own. The purpose of the membership process is to determine those who are confessing Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and who are desiring to minister their spiritual giftedness in their local church for the glory of God.
In order for one to join the first century church in Jerusalem, who was continuing under persecution, one needed to make a public identification with the church through a public act of baptism. Jesus Himself said “Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33). The act of fulfilling the Lord’s commandment to be baptized (Matthew 28:19-20), would often cause the believer to be detested from their family and friends. But in the act of baptism, the Christian would fulfill the ordinance of God, openly declaring his faith, and simultaneously be joined to a local body of believers. We believe that baptism is essential to becoming a member of a local church. A believer who has lived through a supernatural act of regeneration should desire to fulfill the Lord’s ordinance, and be excited in proclaiming publically his new identity in Christ.
The act of baptism, by immersion, is a sign that shows the supernatural events that occurred in the person’s life, such as dying to sin, being buried with Christ, and rising with Christ to a new life (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12). It is a grateful act of believer’s obedience that gives evidence of his conversion, and that now he believes in Christ as his Savior with all his heart. In order for the church to allow one to be baptized, the elders must get to know the concerned Christian and confirm, to the best of their ability, that he has lived through the act of regeneration. Then the person who desires to be baptized, must willingly go through the membership program and agree to adhere to this church’s statement of faith, philosophy of ministry, bylaws, and stated ordinances. After baptism, he is then accepted as a new member of the church, with the expectation that he will live a pure and sanctifying life of a new creation. Even though Scripture does not give an age requirement for baptism, unless there are irregular circumstances, children should wait until they are 15 years of age to become official members of the local church.
Scripture instructs church members to be accountable to their local church elders, who are to give an account to God over those whom He entrusted to them (Hebrews 13:17). It is therefore the responsibility of the local church elders to examine both the profession and walk of one who fails to obey Christ’s Word. If a member of the church does not walk in accordance to God’s Word, elders of the church must carefully apply principles from Scriptures to govern the person’s membership, and if necessary, remove him from membership. Jesus prescribed the proper steps of conducting church discipline in (Matthew 18:15-17). We believe that when a member of church is caught in sin, the person who saw him must first confront him to show him his fault; if the sinning member repents, no further disciplinary actions are to be taken; instead there is renewed unity and restoration. But if the sinning member does not repent; then the person who saw the member sinning, must get one or two more with him, and again address the situation personally with the sinning member. If the sinning member repents, no further disciplinary actions are to be taken; instead there is renewed unity and restoration. But if the sinning member does not repent; then this sin must be told to the church (first to elders of the church), so that elders of the church can address the issue with the sinning member privately. But if he does not listen even to the elders, then the church must be notified of the sinning member, and the church as a whole body must attempt to call the sinning member to repentance. After a set time, usually determined by the elders, the sinning member does not repent, he must be excommunicated. This means that this sinner has been dis-fellowshipped from the congregation. He is therefore to be treated as one who rejects the gospel of Christ. This does not mean that there is no more hope for this individual; but it does mean that every member of the church, that comes into contact with him, will tell him of the consequences of his actions, and exhort him to come to a saving relationship with Christ as he once professed. If the person at some point after this repents; he must come to the elders and be evaluated in his repentance, and only then be restored to the congregation in a public meeting. Once a disciplined member has been restored, he will regain all the rights, duties, privileges, and responsibilities of fellowship and membership.
We believe that according to Scriptures, Biblical church is to practice member discipline and restoration for the purpose of maintaining purity of the church and her worship; therefore, every member has the responsibility to lovingly confront any other member when they see that the believer has sinned. In addition to Matthew 18:15-20, other passages speak of discipline in varying forms (Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 5; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; 1 Timothy 5:20, 6:3; Titus 1:13, 2:15, 3:10; Revelation 2:2, 14, 15, 20). The goal of this process is always the restoration of the offender. When a disciplined member is restored, it is a great joy and celebration of the whole local church body and heaven (Luke 15:7, 10).
“And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25
Scripture emphasizes that believers are to be in continual fellowship where they can grow and mature together. One of the purposes of a local church is so that fellow believers would have the opportunity to stimulate one another to love and do good deeds. In order for this to be effective, it is essential for church members to develop quality relationships; where spiritual and physical needs are met, where the church body is being built up, and where Christ’s character is being displayed. This means that we must surround ourselves with believers who are equally being challenged in pursuing holiness, and who are striving for the same goals and commitments. To create fruitful relationships, church members must be willing to share in their struggles and fruits of their life in Christ (sharing how our daily walk with the Lord affects our life and joy).
Elders and leaders of the church are to lead the church body in fellowship by being a personal example, and through sermon exhortation of personal interactions. It is the responsibility of the pastor and elders to stimulate church fellowship. Therefore, elders and leaders are to be mindful and intentionally proactive in organizing avenues of personal ministries and opportunities for fellowship. Some of the events or programs that should be implemented, but not limited to, are weekday Bible studies (small groups, care groups, etc.), prayer groups, men’s discipleship, women’s discipleship, outdoor picnics, men’s breakfast, ladies’ night, marriage and parenting training, church retreats, pot luck dinners, etc. All of these programs and events will give the church body an opportunity to serve each other, so that we may display God’s manifold grace as good stewards, serving one another (1 Peter 4:10). Fellowship involves being together, loving one another, communing together, listening to fellow member’s concerns, praying for other’s needs, and singing hymns. The purpose of Christian fellowship is to help each other grow as a mature church body and become faithful fathers, mothers, husbands, and wives. It is not enough to just listen to someone explain the Scriptures, there must be a means through which believers can grow together through Christian fellowship and accountability. If left to ourselves, we would soon waste away spiritually and be of little use to our Master.
Guest Care and Assimilation
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” – Hebrews 13:2
Scripture explains that it is the church members’ responsibility to show hospitality to visitors and strangers. In order to have an effective assimilation ministry, elders are to appoint one or more church members who have specific social giftedness to be the official church greeter. The greeter’s primary objective is to make the gospel available for the visitor or guest. The secondary purpose of this ministry is to help visitors and guests experience Christian hospitality in our church. The appointed greeters must work together to develop invitation cards, church brochures, and visitor information cards that can be filled out by the visitor/guest. Multiple invitation cards should be passed out to every member of the church; so that they can hand them out to people that they have contact with throughout the week. Invitation cards must be readily available in a designated place of the church building; so that anyone needing more would have easy access. When a visitor or guest enters the church, he should be immediately approached by one or more greeters, who would politely introduce themselves, and hand out a brochure about the church (which will also contain the gospel). Inside the church brochure, the guest should find a visitor information card where they can fill out and put it in the offering plate when it gets passed around. This information card is for the purpose so that the church can follow up with that person in a week or two to see if we can serve them in any other capacity. The information card should also have a place where the visitor or guest can write down a prayer request.
The church greeters also should call a couple days in advance, to one or more households of church members, to see if they would be interested in hosting a lunch for any potential guests who would be visiting our church. The purpose of this is to first, provide the church body an opportunity to serve others, and second, to provide the guest an experience of Christian hospitality and an example of what a Biblical church family is to look like at home. After the guest is given the church brochure, greeters should introduce the visitor to the family who agreed beforehand to host. The hosting family is to politely invite the guest for lunch after service.
The church must remember that God has placed them in the community in which they are to make an impact. Therefore, the congregation should be continually taught and reminded to greet and welcome guests. Guests should also have the opportunity to interact with the pastor after the church service. If the guest is interested in church membership or the process for baptism, the greeters should explain verbally or have that information readily available in writing. After the service, if the guest is interested in the church, greeters should give additional information to them such as: “fellowship groups, Bible studies, Sunday school, church picnic, etc.” A visitor or a guest is the best opportunity to show our churches love for that person.
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8
Scriptures instructs believers to think about the things that are true, honorable, right, pure, and lovely. Before the local church launches a program, elders are to give special attention in evaluating the program. The purpose of the local church is: teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in hearts (Colossians 3:16); to be equipped as saints (Ephesians 4:11-12); to grow and be built into a holy temple in the Lord, a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:4-5); to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:25); to pray for one another (James 5:14); and to proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9-10). All programs are to be driven by these principles. A failure to correctly understand the purpose of the church, leads to superficial and counterfeit ministry, resulting in disunity, where "program success" is glorified instead of God. People become passive spectators rather than active participants. Leadership is forced to do everything they can to keep the programs functioning. We believe that it is essential to protect the church from becoming an organization that is run by men and programs; instead we strive to be an organism of committed believers empowered by the Spirit of God. Therefore, in order for any program to be accepted into the church; there must be a unanimous agreement between all of the elders.
There is nothing wrong in programs that enhance the church; as long as the program does not become the central aspect of the church. Program suggestions that will be considered, have to come from members only of the church. If a member has an idea for a church program; he should first come to the elders and share the idea, having thoroughly thought it through himself; elders will then discuss it among themselves and make a decision if this program is suitable, the time that it should be launched, and appoint an elder/deacon/member who will oversee this ministry. Every program that is launched in the church is under the presumption that this is how it will be “for now!” Elders are to periodically re-evaluate every program to determine if a program needs to continue or if it needs to be terminated.