We believe the church was started with Jesus and His disciples (Matthew 16:18). God purchased the church with the blood of His own Son (Acts 20:28). Christ loves, nourishes, and cherishes the church (Ephesians 5:25, 29), and will present it to himself (Ephesians 4:27). In scripture the church is viewed individually (specifically) and institutionally (generally). The vast majority of scripture that deals with the church refers to a local congregation of baptized believers. The English word church is derived from the Greek word kyriakon, which means “belonging to the Lord.” The only two uses of that word (kyriakon) in the New Testament occur in 1 Corinthians 11:20 (referring to the Lord’s Supper) and Revelation 1:10 (referring to the Lord’s Day). The Greek word ekklesia is used almost exclusively in reference to a body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23). However there are two times in the New Testament where it is used in a non-religious sense (Acts 19:39, 41). The word ekklesia means “a called out assembly.” Therefore, a church is a body of believers, a people of God’s own possession, who have been called out of darkness and into His marvelous light, for the purpose of showing forth His excellencies (1 Peter 2:9).
The Purpose of the Church
First, We believe that the church exists to glorify Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:20-21). This is accomplished through worship. The entire life of the believer ought to be lived as an act of worship to God (Romans 12:1-2). A church should gather on the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10; 1 Corinthians 16:1; Acts 20:7), to reverently and joyfully (Psalm 2:11; Hebrews 12:28-29) worship God as a congregation by singing (Colossians 3:16), praying (Acts 2:42; I Timothy 2:1-8), giving (I Corinthians 16:2), hearing God’s Word preached (Acts 2:42; 2 Timothy 4:2), and responding to the scripture with a surrendered heart (Romans 12:1-2; Job 1:20-22; James 1:22-24).
Second, I believe that the church exists to make disciples. A church is called to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth (“go ye” Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; 13:1-3). All believers are called to be ambassadors for Christ; therefore, all believers are to proclaim and to practice the truth of the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:20; Acts 1:8). Making disciples includes sharing the gospel, baptizing believers and teaching believers to observe all of His commands (Matthew 28:19-20).The goal of ministry is the building up of the body to maturity (Ephesians 4:11-16; 2 Peter 1:1-12). This maturity comes primarily through the teaching and preaching of the scriptures (Colossians 1:28; Ephesians 4:15). God has equipped every believer with a spiritual gift to be used in the building up of the body (1 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Peter 4:10). We believe that every believer should be involved in their local church ministry. The proper working of every part causes the growth of the body (Ephesians 4:16; Hebrews 3:13). When a church is functioning properly, believers will be edifying one another to love and to good works in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:22-25).
I believe that every believer should be baptized and intricately a part of a community of believers called the church (Acts 2:41-42). Though membership is not described in great detail in the New Testament, it is necessary to achieve true and meaningful accountability (Hebrews 13:17; Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Corinthians 2:6). Membership reflects the emphasis of the New Testament on the commitment and connection of the members of the body one to another (1 Corinthians 12:26; Ephesians 4:16).
We believe that a church member who is living in sin should be confronted, and if unrepentant, disciplined (Matthew 18:15-17). After confrontation by the individual, then by a few, and then by the church, the member must be excluded from the fellowship (1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Matthew 15:17). Church discipline is not to done out of anger, but out of love, for the purpose of restoration (2 Corinthians 2:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:14; Galatians 6:1). Therefore, it should be done in gentleness and humility (Galatians 6:1). The ultimate goal of church discipline is purity in the church (1 Corinthians 5:6).
We believe that the church should be governed under the headship of Christ, the Chief Shepherd (Colossians 1:18; 1 Peter 5:1-4). We believe that there are two offices in the local church. Each individual church should be led by a plurality of Pastors (Acts 14:23; 15:4 20:17; Titus 1:5; James 5:14) and even among those pastors there seems to be scriptural evidence for a lead pastor (Acts 15:6-29). The terms Elder (Acts 14:23), Pastor (Ephesians 4:11), and Bishop (1 Timothy 3:1) are not three different offices, but rather three aspects of the same office. The word pastor means shepherd which indicates the nature of his relationship to the church. He is to be leading, feeding, guiding, and guarding the flock committed to his care (I Peter 5:1-4; Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9). The other church office is the office of deacon. The primary responsibility of a deacon is to care for the physical needs of the church (Acts 6:1-6). This allows the pastor to devote himself to the ministry of the Word and prayer (Acts 6:2-3). The qualifications for a pastor are found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and in Titus 1:6-9. The qualifications of a deacon are found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. We believe that there are two ordinances: baptism (Matthew 28:19), and the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-34). The ordinances are not a conduit of grace, but both are symbolic of spiritual reality. The word baptism means immersion. Therefore, immersion is the mode of baptism that we hold to. Water baptism is a public identification with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection, and is symbolic of the spiritual union between the believer and Christ (Romans 6:3-4). The scripture is clear that baptism is only for believers (Acts 2:41; 10:47-48). The Lord’s Supper is a public remembrance of the death of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). It was instituted by Christ at the Passover before His crucifixion (Matthew 26:26-29). This ordinance increases anticipation for the Lord’s soon return (1 Corinthians 11:26; Matthew 26:29).