Faith Bible Chapel’s Philosophy of Ministry
Our church has adopted the following philosophy of ministry as the way in which we see our church fulfilling the overall purpose of glorifying God (Eph 3:21).
WORSHIPPING THE SAVIOR
First, we desire to glorify God by exalting the Savior. We gather together on Sunday mornings in order to worship God through Jesus Christ. Worship is ascribing supreme worth to God. It includes our response to the person and work of God. The attributes of God, like holiness, omnipotence, mercy, faithfulness, and love, cause us to want to worship Him and ascribe “supreme worth” to Him. Likewise when we see the works of God, creation, redemption, keeping His promises, we respond in worship (see Ps. 103). Worship then must be central in the church. Often people think of worship as only singing praise to God, but the Scriptures reveal multiple elements of worship such as prayer (Acts 16:12; 4:23-31), praise (1 Cor. 14:26; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16), ministry of the Word or preaching (1 Tim. 4:14;Acts 2:42; 6:4; Col. 3:16), the Lord’s Table or communion (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 10:16-17), public reading of Scripture (1 Tim. 4:13) and offering (1 Cor. 16:1; 2 Cor 9:6-7).
What about style of music? Scripture does not give a specific command. Many believers today gravitate to either mostly hymns or newer choruses and songs. The leadership of FBC suggest that a few considerations be made when tackling this hot topic issue. We must remember that worship 1) is about God, 2) it must be grounded in Scripture, and 3) it should be done to the highest level the church is able to do by God’s grace and to His glory (1 Chron. 15:22 and 1 Cor. 10:31).
Moreover, we also seek to ask these questions when planning the music for Sunday worship. Is the music God focused? Does the music promote a high view of God? Is it orderly? Is the content biblically sound? Does it promote unity in the church? Will it be performed with excellence? Will it prepare the people to hear the preaching of the word? Does it adorn the gospel? Does it promote passionate worship?1FBC combines both the time-tested hymns written over the centuries of church history and newer and contemporary songs and hymns.
1.Adapted from John MacArthur, Fools Gold, (Wheaton, IL: Crsossway Books, 2005), 124-128.
EDIFYING THE SAINTS
Here is the second way in which the church is to fulfill its purpose of glorifying God. Peter writes that we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18). Essentially he is speaking of a process of edification/sanctification. The primary meaning of edification is the building and developing of the community itself in the life of faith (Eph 4:16; Jude 20; 1 Co 14:26). The Church should not be static, but continuing in a spiritual growth process. The goal of the edification is that each member might grow to maturity in all things in Christ (Eph 4:13-16; 2 Pet 3:18). This begins with instruction and training from the leadership and then is passed on to the fellow believer as they appropriate the Scriptures to every area of life (1 Thess 5:11). We see this pattern early on in the church as Luke records that the church’s priorities were teaching God’s word, fellowship with one another, partaking of the Lord’s supper, and prayer. Each of these are expanded below with a few additions (Acts 2:42).
The teaching of the Word of God is the heart of edification (Ezra 7:10; Col 1:2425; Acts 20:20). The word of God must be taught and applied in both large and small group settings. In the large and corporate meetings this will primarily take the form of expository preaching book by book and verse by verse. But there is also a need for solid teaching on the smaller levels. This is the time when questions are asked and answered, and dialogue takes place as the Scriptures are applied. Small group settings include Sunday School classes, men’s and women’s Bible studies, and one on one discipleship.
Fellowship must also be taking place in the body of Christ. The Christian life cannot be lived in isolation but rather in a genuine Christian community. There is both a giving and a receiving involved as each member is edified by others (Acts 2:44-45; 4;3237; 6:1; 2 Cor 8:1ff). This is a very practical aspect of the church. It involves caring for each other in deaths, births, sickness, meals, hospital visits, and just being genuinely concerned for each other’s joys, sorrows, and cares. Most of the ministry of the church takes place between church services and sermons as believers fellowship with each other. This “body life” must be encouraged and fostered. Another aspect of this body life consists of practicing the “one-another’s” of scripture. At least twenty-two one another commands can be traced in the NT and function as the “house rules for God’s family.”
Christ has given His church two ordinances to observe: baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:38-42). Baptism is first and foremost the public identification with Christ. It is a testimony of one’s faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Rom 6:111). It is also a sign of fellowship and identification with the body of Christ (Acts 2:4142). The mode of baptism is by immersion (Acts 6:36-39). Because of the qualifications for baptism listed we do not baptize infants. Each baptism candidate must be able to give a public confession of their faith before being baptized which excludes infants. Young children who have professed Christ should be examined carefully to avoid baptizing unregenerate people and providing a false sense of assurance to them of their salvation.
Equally important is the partaking of the Lord’s Table/ Supper/ Communion (1 Cor 11:23-24). This is the time to remember the great sacrifice which was made on our behalf by our Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of sin. Paul tells us that this must not be partaken of haphazardly but rather with self examination and in a worthy manner (1 Cor 11:28-30). The elements are not nor become the actual body and blood of Christ but are representative of them. It is a special time of real communion with Jesus who is present among the church fellowshipping with His people (1 Cor 10:16). The partaking of the Lord’s Table must not function as an “add-on” to the end of the service. Rather at FBC, once a month, it is given the central focus of the whole service with the other modes of worship leading up to it.
God calls His bride to be a praying community. It is an indispensable element of the church. The old saying that a “family that prays together stays together” is also true of the local church. Therefore prayer is emphasized from the pulpit as well as the small groups. Prayer without ceasing is the biblical way of stressing the need to be committed to prayer (1 Thess 5:17). Members are encouraged to intercede on behalf of others in prayer and to make their petitions known to God (Col 4:2-3; Eph 6:18-19. We currently have a prayer chain as a way of keeping the body aware of pressing needs. We also have a prayer room that is available after the service each week for anyone to come for prayer. The need for prayer cannot be overstated. It is our primary job as believers for without it we can do nothing (John 15:5).
The most basic element of equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry is personal discipleship. Making disciples was what our Lord was about as He lived His sinless life (Mrk 3:14) and it was what he commissioned the church to do before His ascension (Mt 28:19-20). It is a function of the church that everyone must be involved in. It involves committing oneself to a few individuals who have been won to Christ in order to aid, guide their growth to maturity, and equip them to disciple others.
At FBC this is done through both formal and informal settings. In a formal setting we established a men’s discipleship ministry where men are instructed to fulfill their leadership role in the home and church. This also includes leadership training classes where men are taught basic hermeneutical principles and theology. All in an effort to follow the principle in 2 Timothy 2:2. We also offer a women’s ministry where the older women teach the younger women the scriptures and how they are to fulfill their God-given role (Titus 2:3-5). We believe that Elders need to be training and disciplining believers in such spiritual disciplines as bible study, prayer, walking in the Spirit, and how to reproduce themselves.
A long established goal of FBC has been to cultivate an overarching “world view” which is distinctively Biblical. Truth as presented in Scripture is radically different from the philosophies of the world. We believe we have a responsibility to uphold and serve as a pillar of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). Therefore we seek to extend Biblical truth to the secular “world views” and test each philosophy to see if they are according to Christ (Col 2:8). Historically this has led us to offer courses on Apologetics and evangelism in an effort to avoid being taken captive by philosophy and traditions of men (Col 2:8). We reject the tenants of Ecumenism, Neo-orthodoxy, New Evangelicalism, Word of Faith, the Charismatic movement, and the various cults. It also shows up in the way we teach our children. We seek to give our youth an education which is truly Biblical. Currently we are using the Generations of Grace curriculum in an effort to come alongside of parents in the evangelism and discipleship of their children.
The Church is the divine means by which believers are to be edified and through which God accomplishes His purposes. To do this God has so arranged His church that every believer has a spiritual gift of service. A spiritual gift is a supernatural, special, spiritual capacity given to every believer (1 Cor 12:7, 11b; 1 Peter 4:10) by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:11a) for the purpose for serving (1 Cor. 12:7) and edifying the church (1 Cor. 14:12, 26).
A helpful way of discussing the gifts is by placing them in four groups. First there are revelatory gifts. These were given to the church during its infancy stage of growth. They include word of wisdom (1 Cor. 12:8), knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8), apostleship (Eph 4:11), prophecy (Rom 12:6; 1 Cor 12:10) and distinguishing of spirits (1 Cor. 12:10). These gifts provided revelation of previously unrevealed truth in inspired messages. Second there are confirmatory gifts such as faith (1 Cor 12:9), healing (1 Cor 12:9), miracles (1 Cor 12:10), tongues (1 Cor 12:10), and the interpretation of tongues (1 Cor 12:10). These were “gifts used by God to confirm His inspired messages during the first century and because the Canon has been completed and closed the revelatory gifts and the confirming gifts are not practiced today.
A third group of gifts are the speaking gifts. These benefit the church during every generation of the church and not just the infancy stage of the early church. There are four gifts in this category: evangelism (Eph 4:11), teaching (Rom. 12:7), pastor-teacher (Eph 4:11), and exhortation (Rom 12:8). All four have divine revelation as their basis. Ever since the first century ended, that direct revelation has been in the form of the completed New Testament canon. These gifts edify and contribute to the body in a variety of ways, such as adding new members, teaching them the fundamentals of the faith, providing shepherding instruction and care for souls, and persuasion to apply the word of God to their lives.
The fourth group are the auxiliary gifts which support the speaking gifts in a nonspeaking capacity. They include helps (Rom 12:7), showing mercy (Rom 12:8), giving (Rom. 12:8), and administration (Rom. 12:8). Each member of the church is expected to use their gifts for the good of the body. Each are valuable and the church would be unhealthy without each one being used. There are many avenues for employing these gifts and the leadership can give guidance on the implementation of opportunities to serve in each capacity.
Another aspect of equipping the saints for ministry is in the area of counseling. While consistent feeding on God’s Word will solve many counseling problems, FBC is committed to an on going Biblical counseling ministry. Currently this is carried out by the pastor-teacher but other believers with the gifting will be trained in order to assist the church (Rom 15:14; 1 Thess 5:14). Under the guidance of the elders, a certain amount of hours each week will be built in to the pastor’s schedule to meet with individuals and couples for counseling. Our policy towards counseling is that the Bible is sufficient for dealing with every conceivable problem in life when interpreted and applied correctly. We have been given all we need for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3; Eph 1:3). The Bible teaches that through the Word of God we are adequately equipped for every good work. Modern Psychology primarily deals with behavior modification and cannot provide long-term change. Biblical counseling aims at the heart and a change in thinking which then leads to a change in behavior (Heb 4:12).
Evangelizing the Lost
Now we come to the third avenue for us to glorify God as a church. The church has a God-given responsibility to reach the lost, to announce to every person that Christ has made redemption through his blood and that by repentance and faith each can receive the remission of sins and entrance into the kingdom of God. While we recognize that God is sovereign in salvation, we also recognize that just as He determines the end, He also determines the means. The means by which God draws the elect to Himself is through the preaching of the Gospel (Rom 10:13-21). Therefore, every believer is to be engaged in soul winning (Mt 29:29-20; Rom 1:16) and being apart of the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18). They do so through the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) and in keeping with the mindset that God grants repentance, but we are called to be faithful proclaimers of the gospel (Rom 1:16-17) and to pray for salvation of souls (Eph 6:18-20). Not only are we called by God to be faithful in the proclamation of the gospel but also to live lives which lineup up with our message and do not deny what we say. Peter says we are to keep our behavior excellent. We are to walk worthy and to adorn the gospel (Titus 2:10).
Practically speaking there are a whole host of ways in which evangelism is being implemented in our church. It begins with offering training in the area of sharing the gospel. The elders evaluate training tools such as “The Way of the Master” or EE for the church and work hard to train believers in this area so as to give them confidence to share. A study of other religions and cults is periodically offered as a part of this training. While this training must be used in the everyday lives of church members, we are also planning an organized time of weekly evangelism through the church. Going door-todoor, visiting hospitals, children’s homes, performing random acts of mercy and service, having evangelistic events such as car shows are all great ways to engage in sharing the gospel. Again, the leadership should be modeling this in their lives and be faithful to sow the seed of the good news to their community.
In addition to the local ministry just described, we also strive for a missions focus. The support of qualified missionaries both domestic and foreign fields is a part of the church budget and ministry calendar. We desire to organize mission trips to visit, support, and assist our missionaries on a yearly basis. We also welcome our supported missionaries to come and teach, preach, and share about their ministries in order to fan the flame of missions inside the church and encourage faithful prayer and support of missions. For a full listing of our supported missions please consult our website.
Leadership of the Church
The Bible designates only two officers for the church who serve under Christ and over the assembly namely, the elder and deacon. The Bible outlines the necessary qualifications each of these offices in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. The elders are to rule and direct the church as servants of Christ with His authority (1 Tim. 5:17-22). The responsibility of the congregation is to submit to their authority (Heb. 13:17).
The term elder is synonymous with other terms such as pastor, bishop, overseer, and pastor-teacher used throughout the NT (Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11). The Bible is clear that elders are to be the leaders of the church and they are to do so as a team. In Acts 14:23, 20:17, and James 5:17 the stress is on a plurality of elders for each single church. Notice how “elder” is plural while “church” is singular. So no matter the size of the church the biblical pattern of a plurality of qualified men remains (see also Acts 13:1; 15:35; 1 Cor. 16:15-16; 1 Thess. 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24). other terms such as pastor, bishop, overseer, and pastor-teacher used throughout the NT (Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11). The Bible is clear that elders are to be the leaders of the church and they are to do so as a team. In Acts 14:23, 20:17, and James 5:17 the stress is on a plurality of elders for each single church. Notice how “elder” is plural while “church” is singular. So no matter the size of the church the biblical pattern of a plurality of qualified men remains (see also Acts 13:1; 15:35; 1 Cor. 16:15-16; 1 Thess. 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24).
In 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 the qualifications of elders are given with an emphasis on character. The Scriptures focus more on who these men are than on what they can do. While they must be apt to teach they must also live exemplary lives whereby others can watch and emulate. Any candidate for this office must undergo an examination of other qualified leaders in the areas of character, Bible knowledge, counseling, and doctrine. It is necessary at this point to emphasize that the biblical mandate is for an all-male leadership team according to the NT example (Matt. 10:2-4; Acts 6) and precept (1 Tim. 2:12; 1 Cor. 14:34).
The elders have three main responsibilities: feed the flock, protect the flock, and lead the flock. Feeding the flock consists of regular teaching and shepherding from God’s Word. It was the message given to Peter in John 21:15-17 and the practice of the early church (Acts 2:42; 1 Tim. 3:2). In nearly every passage relating to elders teaching is mentioned (Acts 20:17-32; 1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 3:2; 5:17; Titus 1:9; Heb. 13:7). Protecting the flock comes in many shapes. It focuses on guarding against false teachers (Acts 20:29-30) and being aware of the spiritual battle against the world forces of this darkness (Eph. 6:12; 1 Peter 5:8). Elders must also protect the sheep by disciplining sin and admonishing sinful behavior (1 Thess. 5:12-14). Third, they are to lead the flock. This speaks of the stewardship of elders to manage, govern, and care for the church knowing that they will give an account to Christ Himself (1 Tim. 5:17; Titus 1:7; 1 Pet. 5:1-2.
Based on the data above the biblical model is for a plurality of elders who are equal in authority. The pastor needs the wisdom, help, accountability, and direction of other gifted men to shoulder the hard work of shepherding God’s flock. This does not mean that each elder must be a full time staff member or that because of training that all will be equal in ability, gifting, and experience but all are required to be apt to teach and have equal authority and responsibility.
In the plurality of elder model of church polity there will be certain elders who shepherd the flock on a full-time basis. They will earn a living through the gospel ministry (1 Tim. 5:18). These men also have some God-given responsibilities such as leading a life of prayer (seen in Acts 6:4), they must be men of the Book and who preach the Book (2 Tim 4:1-2). They must also disciple and train other leaders in the spirit of 2 Timothy 2:2 and likewise be about calling, visiting, and counseling the church body (1 Thess. 5:11-12).
As was mentioned before, deacons are to meet the same qualifications laid out in 1 Timothy and Titus except for the ability to teach the word. It is interesting to note that while most churches recognize a plurality of deacons they reject the plurality of elders which is clearer in Scripture. Like the elder, the focus is on the character of the deacon instead of what he does. But in the spirit of Acts 6 deacons are to assist the elders in the care of the church. They are to be servants by helping with the administrative duties in order to free up the elders to teach and pray. But they are not to be considered as insignificant. Paul says they obtain a high standing and great confidence in the faith which is in Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 3:13). They can help shepherd, care for, and administrate the flock of God. The only difference lies in the ability to teach. It is common in our day to see deacons functioning as elders because of confusion over the roles of elders and deacons.
Biblical Church Discipline
The purity of the bride of Christ is of vital importance to God (2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:26). God has called each member to pursue holiness (1 Pet. 1:13). One of the means God has determined for His bride to be holy is church discipline. Some of the key passages which teach this important church practice are Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:113; Gal. 6:1; 2 Thess. 3:6-15; 1 Tim. 5:20 and Titus 3:10. Practicing church discipline is not popular in our time but nevertheless it is a biblical mandate. It flows from the character of God seen in His willingness to discipline those He loves whenever they sin (Heb. 12:6).
The purpose of discipline is restoration or restoring a sinning believer to holiness. Keeping this purpose in mind helps guard against attitudes and actions which distort the biblical teaching on discipline. At no point is the purpose to embarrass others, kick people out, or throw the weight of the leadership around. The objective is to bring glory to God by restoring purity.
The process becomes necessary once someone has been sinned against either directly or indirectly through bringing shame and open reproach against others in the local church who all represent Christ.
In Matthew 18 Jesus prescribed a four-step approach to dealing with sin in the
First there is to be a personal, private confrontation between the sinner and the one sinned against (or one who identifies the sin). Again, this is to be done with a Galatians 6:1-2 attitude. If the person hears and repents then you have won your brother and forgiveness is granted (2 Cor. 2:7). If he/she refuses to listen or repent then warn them that more people will be brought into the situation to deal with the problem.
Take along one or two witness (Mt. 18:16). The purpose of having the two witnesses is not because they recognized the sin or saw it but rather to witness the confrontation in this step and be able to report on what everyone said (Deut. 19:15). If the offender is an elder then more witnesses are needed (1 Tim. 5:19). The offender is asked to repent with a full forgiveness granted if they do. If they refuse then a warning is to be issued that a more serious confrontation will be invoked (1 Thess. 5:14a; Titus 2:15; 3:10). The witnesses can report about their attitude and actions. issued that a more serious confrontation will be invoked (1 Thess. 5:14a; Titus 2:15; 3:10). The witnesses can report about their attitude and actions.
The next step is to tell it to the church (Mt. 18:17a). This refers to informing the whole assembly of the matter. They are to be praying for the person asking God to grant repentance. Those in the congregation who know the offender are to be encouraged to exhort the person to repent while at the same time graciously withholding intimate fellowship from him/her (1 Cor. 5:9-13; 2 Thess. 3:14-15). I would recommend sending a letter by registered mail to the offender notifying them of the church decision. Another recommendation would be to reserve the proclamation of the sin for communion services which contain intense self-examination and serve as a way of instilling the seriousness of sin.
If the brother continues to be unrepentant then the church body needs to excommunicate the offender. This includes loss of membership, voting rights, participation in communion, and loss of intimate fellowship (would include inviting him/her over to share an intimate meal). This decision would be announced to the whole church (1 Cor. 5:2, 5, 11, 13; 2 Cor. 2:6).