The most important task of the local church is the preaching of the Word. This precedes all other mediums and formats where the Bible can be taught or studied. As a church, we place significant emphasis on verse-by-verse preaching from the Bible. While sermons can be topical or series based, they should always properly interpret and explain the biblical text in light of the overarching redemptive narrative. Thus, every sermon should make clear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many times, our pastor will preach through entire books of the Bible. In the reformed tradition, we believe this to be healthy and helpful so we may rightly understand the context, content and application of God’s Word.
When it comes to worship, we promote a blend of old and new songs/hymns. We are not devoted to one style and believe we should appreciate many forms and styles. It is important that we sing together congregationally and understand that worship is not a mystical, personal experience but a corporate celebration of God and His redemption. Songs are prayerfully selected and follow a liturgy that moves us through the themes of redemption. Songs should be biblically faithful, theologically sound, Christ-centered and God-exalting. While we want our services to be honoring to the Lord and edifying for His people, they are not performance oriented or entertainment driven. Additionally, we believe our corporate gatherings are for the redeemed. Services are not intended to attract unbelievers or make them feel comfortable in their unconverted state. However, we desire for unbelievers to be among us so they can hear about the glory of God and the gospel of our Lord.
WHILE THERE ARE OTHER FEATURES OF REFORMED THEOLOGY, REGARDING THE SUBJECT OF SALVATION, WE PREACH THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE AS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE. SOME REFER TO THIS AS ‘CALVINISM’. LABELS LIKE THIS ARE UNHELPFUL (THOUGH WE APPRECIATE JOHN CALVIN). THIS IS NOT A PREREQUISITE FOR MEMBERSHIP AND MEMBERS OFTEN VARY IN THEIR UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT ELECTION AND PREDESTINATION. IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THIS BECAUSE MANY MISUNDERSTAND THESE GREAT DOCTRINES. NONETHELESS, ELECTION AND PREDESTINATION ARE IN THE BIBLE AND WE PREACH THEM ALONG WITH WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY. OUR BIBLICAL EMPHASIS IS THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN SALVATION BECAUSE THE SCRIPTURES REVEAL THAT HUMAN WILL IS IN BONDAGE TO SIN. GOD IS THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING NOT MAN. AT THE SAME TIME, OUR MISSION IS TO MAKE CHRIST KNOWN THROUGH EVANGELISM AND MISSIONS. EVERY HUMAN BEING IS ACCOUNTABLE TO GOD AND MUST HEAR THE GOSPEL BEING CALLED UPON TO BELIEVE AND REPENT. GOSPEL UNITY IS IMPORTANT AND BEING UPFRONT IS HOW WE CAN PRESERVE SUCH UNITY.
Our worship gatherings are inter-generational. We believe there is great biblical value in families and people of all ages worshiping together. While there is a ‘Children’s Church’ ministry on Sunday mornings, the goal is to prepare our children to sit through normal worship services by age 7 or 8. There are discipleship opportunities that are aged-based like Sunday School, Catechism Club and Youth Group. However, the home should be the general place of discipleship. Fathers and mothers have been tasked with the responsibility of raising children for the glory of God. The local church shares a partnership with families but does not replace the family with programs and professionals.
The church should also be multi-ethnic. While our local demographics limit this to some degree, we believe the church should be filled with people redeemed by the Savior from all ethnicities and backgrounds.
There are two offices in the local church – deacon and elder. The NT shows that elders/pastors were given to the church to teach, guard, lead and shepherd. Our church follows this model and the elders provide spiritual oversight and care over the congregation. First, we have shepherd groups led by each elder to which each member is assigned for spiritual care. Second, the elders ensure that there are discipleship opportunities that are doctrinally sound and biblically faithful. The Bible teaches male headship in the home and the church. While this can be misunderstood, and abused by some, the Bible is clear on the order and structure God has given to the home and the church. Women have a significant role in the church even in leading and teaching. However, the role of pastor/elder is to be held by men.
GENDER AND COMPLEMENTARIANISM
Our church holds to a complementarian view of the roles of men and women. In short, God created men and women with equal dignity and worth in His image. At the same time, He created them differently. He created male and female. The realty of masculinity and femininity are established in Creation and revealed in Scripture. Our culture would like to erase these distinctions. Countering the culture, it is important that we preserve the beauty, uniqueness and distinctions that are particular to each sex for the glory of God. Within the covenant marriage relationship and home, those distinctions will result in a man and a woman assuming roles and responsibilities without diminishing equality, intelligence or identity. More important than equality are the gospel virtues of servanthood and submission. Teaching and modeling these things go totally against our sinful nature, our evil culture, and are impossible without Christ. Anchored in the gospel, complementarianism reflects the wonder of Christ and His bride – the church.
As Christians, we are simultaneously saints and sinners. Thus, we believe that confessing our sins to one another and being transparent about our imperfection is important. Further, not a moment passes that we are not dependent on the good news of Jesus’ rescue and redemption. Thus, we talk about the gospel quite a bit. We seek to love one another, work through differences, resolve offenses and patiently walk with each other because of what Jesus has done for us. We have not arrived spiritually on any level. Sometimes we are hypocritical – other times we are inconsistent – and none of us ‘love God’ perfectly or ‘love our neighbor’ as ourselves perfectly. That’s why we need the gospel.
At the same time, grace compels us to pursue holiness, forsake worldliness and live godly lives. As redeemed people, we seek to humbly obey God’s law and live for God’s glory. Because fear is gone, guilt is removed and perfection is achieved in Jesus; we are now able to pursue holiness and put off sinful things. Grace is our standing ground between license (selfishly abusing Christian liberty) and legalism (earning righteousness for salvation).
You will notice that we are relaxed in how we dress and interact. There’s no list of external, man-made rules or expectations that we follow. Sometimes we are weird – and sometimes we are normal. Many people have different preferences in a wide-range of areas. Of all people on earth, gospel Christians should have joy, happiness, peace and hope. Yes, we are serious about the gospel, the Bible, theology and Christian living. However, we enjoy all of God’s gifts - especially the gift of one another!