APPOINTING BIBLICALLY QUALIFIED OFFICERS
God has always delighted to call weak men to the noble task of shepherding His people. For the church, God has appointed two offices of leadership, the elder/pastor and the deacon. In 1 Timothy 3.1-13 (also Titus 1.5-9), God has irrevocably established the qualifications for these offices. The importance of identifying biblically qualified officers cannot be understated as a means to nurturing the community of the saints. This is plain by those titles given them by God: “overseers,” “stewards of God,” those who are “keeping watch over your souls,” “teachers,” and “shepherds.” And concerning deacons, the word itself means servant, that is, servants of the church. God has given these biblically qualified officers to the church for nurturing community among her members until all attain to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Therefore, we will intentionally seek to discern and appoint biblically qualified men for the office of elder/pastor, and biblically qualified men and women for the office of deacon/deaconess.
PRACTICING BIBLICAL COUNSELING
As we are faced with an onslaught of sins, weights, entanglements, trials, tribulations, sorrow, grief, and schemes of the devil, God has given us His Word to guide and train us in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16-17). God’s words should not only be brought to bear in our lives from the pulpit, but also in the interpersonal situations that arise in everyday life. The Scriptures sufficiently address everything in our lives either by direct application or implication. Thus, as the Scriptures are applied to our lives by the Spirit, we have all we need to live properly before God and towards others (Matt. 22:37-39; 2 Pet 1.3-4). In our counseling, we are not seeking mere moral or outward reform; biblical counseling is distinctive in that it aims at the supernatural change of the heart, because from the heart flow the springs of life (Prov 4.23). Therefore, we hold that the gospel is paramount in biblical counseling because it is the power of God unto salvation for those who believe (Rom 1.16). Summarily, the counsel given in and through the church will be biblical, prayerful, gospel-saturated, and aimed at the heart.
ENLISTING EVERY-MEMBER GOSPEL MINISTRY
Christian service is not exclusive to the biblically qualified and called officers of the church. These are given to equip the saints for the work of ministry (Eph 4.11-16). Therefore, we will nurture community by equipping the community to minister the gospel to one another, to be intentionally and lovingly invasive, to take the initiative in meeting the needs of the saints, in being available and accountable to one another, in speaking the Word of God into one another’s lives until our “communal blood runs Bibline,” and in encouraging one another to a habitual sharing of Jesus Christ in the world.
EMBRACING BIBLICAL GENDER ROLES
Even as God is one God in three eternal Persons, these Persons being equal in being and value but distinct in function or role, so God created human beings, male and female, in His image (Gen 1.26-27). An important part of that image, redeemed from the effects of the Fall by Christ Jesus, is the simultaneous equality and distinctiveness of men and women. Males and females, as created persons, carry equality in being and value; yet, they are distinguished by the roles that God has given to them. To men, God has given the function of leadership under the sovereign Word and grace of God, resulting in a valiant, kingdom advancing dominion, clothed in glad-hearted, self-sacrificial love. To women, God has given the role of helper, of entrusting herself, first to God, and (if married) also willingly to her husband, of being a gentle and quiet spirit, a laborer in the gospel, training the young women to live in accord with the Word of God, and so in this way advancing the kingdom of God. As manhood and womanhood are thus redeemed by Christ, both men and women will find their God-given design to be their God-given joy, like the harmonic pleasure of a perfectly recited ballet (Gen 2.18-25; Eph 5.22-33; 1 Pet 3.1-7).
ENCOURAGING FAMILY WORSHIP
We understand that the Fall has effected the family unit, that we live in a world of broken families, single-parent homes, and orphaned children. We also affirm singleness as good and legitimate insofar as it is held in purity for greater devotion to the Lord, but not as a means of selfishly putting off God’s good design of marriage and family. The household is akin to the church of God, and is each man’s realm of shepherding. It is not complexity but simplicity of worship that we value in the home. This would include praying, reading the Bible, doing the Bible, serving the saints, eating with sinners and tax collectors, etc., as a family. We desire God in Christ to be set upon the throne of the home, giving our children the opportunity to see their parents worshiping God, treasuring Christ, begging for the fullness of the Holy Spirit, learning, loving, and teaching the gospel, confessing their sins and setting their hope fully upon the saving work of God through Christ by the Spirit. Such worship within the family is precious to God, and so also to us as a church (Deut 6.4-9, 20-25; Eph 6.1-4; 2 Tim 1.5).