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Our Distinctives

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Going beyond the list of basic beliefs in "What we Believe", we understand the Bible gives us a guide to local church practice. The following are practices which you may find vary somewhat from other evangelical churches. We feel they are consistent with the New Testament model for the local church.

(2 Timothy 2:2) And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

1. Our gathering centre is to be our Lord Jesus Christ, and not in another name.

As part of the universal Church of the Lord Jesus, we choose not to identify ourselves with following any particular church leader or saint of history (I Corinthians 3:4-11).  We do not want to be considered as being part of a narrower group (denomination) than the one, undivided body of Christ (Ephesians 4:3,4).

2. Local church autonomy, no denominational headquarters.

We feel the Bible teaches that local churches are to be independent, that is, self governing. The pattern in the NewTestament is of multiple local leadership within each local group.

Also, there seems to be no church "office" higher than an "elder". Peter says he "also is an elder" (1 Pet 5:1). In Acts 20:17 Paul invited "elders" to meet him and later calls them "overseers" (Acts 20:28). The Bible speaks of Bishops and overseers, however the same Greek word is the basis of both, indicating they are the same position. (See Phil 1:1 and Acts 20:28).

3. Active fellowship stressed, as compared to being only a member on a list.

We believe that a scriptural local church is an organism, rather than an organization. Life is from within and not from without (orders from a central office). Having your name on a church's membership list does not make you a Christian. Active fellowship and participation of each member (using their gifts) is important.

(1 John 1:3) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

(1 John 1:7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

(Romans 12:4,5) For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

4. No professional clergy. Special training is welcome, but this does not give special status.

Church assembly is led by a "plurality" of elders rather than a single pastor. Leadership is drawn from within the group and usually is not salaried (Acts 18:3). However, this does not mean we would not support local missionary endeavors or fulltime ministry when necessary. Pulpit ministry is shared amongst those in the assembly who have the ability or gift to do so.

The New Testament clearly teaches all believers are priests. There is no indication of a separation between clergy and laity (these words or concepts are not found in the New Testament). The only place in the Bible where the word "reverend" is found is in Psalms 111:9 where it is given as an attribute of God. Also, the scriptures in Matthew 23:9 warns us not to call another man "father".

All believers are priests:
(1 Peter 2:9) But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Our head is Christ who supplies all that is needed in the local assembly:
(Ephesians 4:15, 16) But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

The apostle Paul did not demand a salary (2 Corinthians 11:7-9) and supported his own ministry with gainful employment (Acts 18:3), but also taught that it is appropriate to financially support those involved in full-time work for the Lord (1 Corinthians 9:7-14).

5. Communion service practiced each week. We practice Communion each week. This is commonly called our Breaking of Bread service.

(Acts 20:7) And upon the first [day] of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

(Acts 2:42) And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

The reason we practice communion is to "remember him":
(Luke 22:19) And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

Our communion service is generally one hour long. Brethren take turns as the Holy Spirit leads; in prayer, sharing scripture, exhorting or requesting a hymn. The time is not planned ahead and generally ends in giving thanks and partaking in communion.

6. No public solicitation for funds.

A collection is taken after the communion service, however there is no special solicitation for funds. The Lord's work is to be supported by God's people only (3 John 5-7).

(3 John 1:7,8) Because that for his name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.

We are to give on the "first day of the week", "as God hath prospered" (a portion or percentage), with no special appeals, "that there be no gatherings when I come":

(1 Corinthians 16:1,2) Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first [day] of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as [God] hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

7. Men and women have distinct and complimentary roles.

The Bible teaches that Christian men and women are of equal value and importance in God's Kingdom (Galatians 3:28) and in his service (Romans 16:1-3), but that there is a division of roles for men and women in the Church (I Timothy 2:11-14; I Corinthians 11:1-16; I Corinthians 14:34,35) and in the Christian family (Ephesians 5:22-33).

8. We believe in sending and commending missionaries directly from the local church.

We are given the commission in Acts chapter 1 to evangelize:

(Acts 1:7,8) And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Acts chapter 13 gives of an example or practice of the commissioning missionaries. Barnabas and Paul were called by God during a time of fasting and prayer. The local church then sent them away, providing for their needs.

(Acts 13:1-4) Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid [their] hands on them, they sent [them] away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

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