Our Heartbeat (who we are)
Commitment to God and His Authoritative Word
The Bible is God’s revelation to us in completion, perfection, and absolute authority. It addresses every issue that the believer needs to deal with in their Christian Life.It also addresses issues that we in our own wisdom might not choose to deal with. Therefore consistent, verse by verse, expository teaching and application of what God has said in His Word should be our standard approach to teaching. This living Word is the primary means of our knowing and worshiping Him in truth.
This does not discount the value of "series" type preaching/teaching (which should still, in fact, be expository in nature), but systematic verse by verse exposition of God's Word should be our standard approach.
In all things within Church life, God's Word is to be the first and the final authority, being the basis for all decision making. It should be expected that the world's approach to decision making and leadership will often be different to God's revealed approach, and God's approach must always be accepted, no matter how difficult or counter-cultural it is.
(2 Timothy 3:16, 17; Hebrews 4:12; John 17:16-17; 1 Cor 1:20)
Commitment to God-centred Worship
Believers gather to worship and to be equipped and then spread out to evangelise. Church services must be primarily for the glory and pleasure of God, which results in the progressive maturity of His people. While we should always be mindful of potentially having non-believers in our church services, the primary focus is the Glory of God through the building up of the body. Our Sunday morning services (being the primary occasion that we gather) are an opportunity to gather for teaching and encouragement and is the gathering that we are reminded to “not neglect”.
Stylistic preferences are very secondary to the above. Our focus must not be on ourselves (and therefore what styles we prefer), but on Christ to the glory of God. We should not have a focus on trying to be attractive to the world in the ordering or executing of our church services, as this will inevitably tempt us to take our focus off the person and work of Christ. However, we are aware that on any given Sunday there may be unbelievers present at our servicesand that they are guests to our family gathering, and so we endeavour to show them the love of Christ and demonstrate the practical outworking of the gospel in every way possible.
(Luke 4:8; John 4:24; Hebrews 10:25; 12:28-29; Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 14:23-25; 2 Corinthians 4:6-7)
Commitment to Proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ is both our Lord and Saviour, and the two cannot be separated. The modern shallow understanding of salvation and the gospel, known as “easy-believism,” stands in stark contrast to what the Bible teaches. The gospel call to faith presupposes that sinners must repent of their sin and yield to Christ's authority. Therefore, salvation is an absolute transition of allegiance to Jesus, the Messiah and the Master. This should result in "radical" living for Jesus, and result in believers looking progressively less and less like the world.
(Luke 9:23-27; 14:25-33; James 2:14-26; 2 Corinthians 5:15,21; Matthew 7:21-23)
Commitment to Proclaiming God’s Sovereignty in Salvation
Salvation is completely and wholly the work of God. While man is called to turn to God in faith, he does not have the ability to do so, as he is dead in his transgressions. Regeneration is required, which is entirely the work of the Holy Spirit, after which faith is possible and in fact is desired due to a new heart being given.
This recognition of God's sovereignty in salvation and of the Holy Spirit's specific and supernatural role in regeneration results in a firm reliance on the only supernatural tools that we have at our disposal for evangelism: prayer and the Word of God. While reason and logical arguments for the existence of God and surrounding topics (such as creation vs. evolution) can be of some assistance to remove mental roadblocks from a person's mind, the supernatural work of bringing someone to faith in Christ can only be done by God.
This in no way reduces man’s responsibility to turn from sin to God. Man is fully responsible for his actions and for his sin.
While we should always be committed to proclaiming the gospel and calling unbelievers to repentance and faith in Christ, this recognition of God’s sovereignty in salvation also prevents us from pressuring unbelievers to make a decision to believe, for this can possibly have the effect of trying to make a cognitive decision apart from the regeneration of the heart, resulting in a false confession of faith in Christ.
(John 3:3-8, 15:16; Colossians 3:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 2:9; Ephesians 1:4-6)
Commitment to Intentionally Making Disciples
The church must foster disciple-making within its own community through the relational witness of the body as well as in the world through church planting and missions. Both individually and corporately, we are compelled to intentionally pursue evangelism.
Discipleship occurs in many formats and arenas, but always has the focus of drawing a person closer to God and assisting in his/her transformation further into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
Intentional discipleship will move an individual to love God, and from that love of God to love the church(and so being matured in his/her faith as we live together and sharpen one another), and through the process of maturing in his/her faith will love the lost in evangelism.
Baptism is an essential part of discipling, and must be at the forefront of every new believers journey.
(Matthew 4:19-20; 28:16-20; Acts 1:8; Ephesians 4:16; Colossians 2:12; 1 Timothy 1:16)
Commitment to Grace-Motivated Spiritual Growth
Living a grace-motivated life is not a liberty that allows a believer to choose a lifestyle independent of the Scriptures. Rather, it is a discipline that increasingly teaches a believer to say “no” to ungodliness, and to hunger for righteousness. While the presence of sin will not be absent until we reach heaven, followers of Christ can be confident that if they confess their sin, God is faithful to forgive and restore the parental relationship between Him and His elect ones.
Grace motivated spiritual growth does not attempt to place laws or rules around godliness, but asks questions such as "in this area of my life, how can I act that would bring the most glory to God?".
(Galatians 3:1-3; Romans 11:33-12:2; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Philippians 2:12, 13; 1 John 1:9; Titus 2:11-12)
Commitment to Dependent, Expectant Prayer
Prayer is the lifeblood of the church. Every aspect of ministry must be saturated with humble surrender and confident intercession. Whether secret or public, whether personal or corporate, prayer must be the hallmark of the local church.
Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. This battle is fought primarily in prayer, and much time and attention must be dedicated to it.
(Matthew 7:7-11; 21:13; Acts 1:13-14; Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 4:2)
Commitment to a Plurality of Servant Leaders–Elders and Deacons
Multiple qualified elders (pastors) who respect and value one another and who serve God’s people in humility must lead the church. The church must diligently prepare future leaders who are confidently committed to God’s truth and who are able, with precision and skill, to lead others into that truth.
Qualified elders must shepherd the members of the church, caring for their souls and protecting them from unsound doctrine. They are to equip the church members for effective ministry out in the world.
The qualifications of an elder (1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1) should be rigorously upheld and regularly checked for all elders.
The role/office of deacon is also vital to the life of the church, specifically to assist in the day to day tasks involved in operating as a church body. The important work of the deacons ensures that the elders can keep focused on the biblical priorities of prayer, ministry of the Word and shepherding. The qualifications of a deacon (1 Timothy 3) should be rigorously upheld and regularly checked for all deacons.
(1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-3; 2 Timothy 2:2)
Commitment to Complementarianism
Men and women are 100% equal in God's eyes and are both made in the image of God.
However, God has made men and women with different roles in the home and in the church. Men (husbands)are called to sacrificially lead in the home with love, care and gentleness while women (wives) are called to lovingly and respectfully submit to their husband's leadership.
In the life of the church, both men and women are biblically called and permitted to carry out any and all roles within the church, with the exception of two; Eldership and the teaching of men have been reserved,by God,for men only.
While ministry leadership and team leadership is completely open to women and should be encouraged for women whom God has gifted in this way, it is also wise to help demonstrate a commitment to male leadership as an underlying principle by specifically encouraging men to step up and lead given that we live in a wider secular culture that is weakening and degrading the role of men.
Headship, as biblically defined (specifically in 1 Corinthians 11), is rooted in and first displayed in the Godhead. Christ,while being completely equal with and not inferior to the Father, lovingly and willingly submits to the Father in everything.It is in this picture that we find the pattern for biblical headship and submission in the roles of men and women.
(1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Timothy 2:12-14, 3:2)
Commitment to Authenticity and Accountability
Members must go beyond superficial relationships and be committed to intimacy in each other’s lives, continually stirring up one another to love God and love others. The church must minister to both the physical and spiritual needs of the body. Selfless, sacrificial love is the defining mark of Christ's disciples and the continual requirement for flawed humans to work together demands a sacrificial giving of one's self for another.
Members should expect that this accountability will be part of their lives so that they can help and be helped in their journey of sanctification by the rest of the body.Small groups will be a primary way in which this authenticity and accountability is able to be practiced.
(John 13:15, Hebrews 10:24, 25; Acts 4:32)
Commitment to Church Discipline and Restoration
Even though it is unpopular in today’s culture, a church family must be committed to following the complete biblical process when a church member is in unrepentant sin. Loving restoration is the constant goal of church discipline, patiently returning an erring Christian to complete fellowship with God and the church. Church members should mourn over sinning brothers and sisters and eagerly forgive with joy at their repentance. Biblical church discipline has no room for a "holier-than-thou" attitude.
Just as it would be unloving to allow our own children to continue along in sin without correcting them, so too it is unloving to allow a brother or sister in Christ to continue in sin without lovingly, biblically making them aware of his/hers in and calling them back to God and to repentance. God is jealous for His church, and for her to be pure without sin (as far as is possible in a fallen world). The world also sees the church and her Godliness (or lack of it) and makes a judgement of God based on the character of the church, and so our evangelism is greatly influenced by the way that we help each other in pursuing Godliness.
(Matthew 18:15-35; 1 Corinthians 5; Galatians 6:1-2)
Commitment to Corporate Ministry
Every believer is made for ministry and has a place of service or outreach. Ministry should never be viewed as the job of the “trained professionals.”
A large part of the role of elders is to "equip the saints for ministry", not to do the ministry themselves. This means that we need to theologically and practically prepare the congregation to minister to the local church, and to"go out" into the world during the week to engage and evangelise where God has put them.While ministry that happens within the church building is helpful, it should not replace nor detract from our calling to ministry out in the world.
(1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 2:10; 4:11-16; 1 Timothy 4:16; James 1:27)
Commitment to Theological Robustness
We live in a generation that is, generally speaking, theologically shallow and often confused. This confusion has led to all manner of unhelpful and often harmful ideas and doctrine making its way into the church (as a generalisation). It is the responsibility of the local church to grow theological depth and robustness within the congregation, and for the elders to lead and model this. It is also the responsibility of the church to provide avenues for its members to grow in theological depth and love of God.
(1 Timothy 4:16; 2 Timothy 2:15; Galatians 1:8; 2 Timothy 4:2-3)