Dependence on the Lord

No matter how well the church has thought through its’ goals or plans in ministry, the church corporately and the individual Christians within the fellowship will fail unless there is total dependence on the strength and power of the Lord. It is not a matter of our striving and asking God to bless it, but rather it is our striving according to the power that works within us (Col. 1:29). It is living by total faith in the Son of God who loved us and delivered Himself up for us (Gal. 2:20). It is working out our own salvation because God is at work within us both to will and work for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:12-13). It is cooperating with Christ in His building of the Church against all opposition (Matt. 16:18).

Faith, Hope and Love as Signs of Success in the Local Church

Everyone in America seems to be success oriented. The church is no exception. However, we believe that success in the church is measured on a different scale than is commonly found in the world. Success is not measured by the size of the congregation, the impressiveness of its’ buildings, the greatness of its’ budget or the attractiveness of its’ programs. Rather, success in the church is seen in the visible outworking of the God-produced qualities of faith, hope and love in its’ members (1Thess. 1:2-3; Col. 1:3-5).

Every Christian a Ministering Believer-Priest

With the sacrifice of Christ having been accomplished on the cross came the abolition of the Aaronic priesthood. In the church today everyone who has put his/her faith in Jesus Christ is made a part of God’s royal priesthood (1Peter 2:4-10). As such, every believer has direct access to God through our one High Priest, Jesus Christ, and is responsible to minister significantly to other believers through the strength that is given by the Holy Spirit (Heb. 4:14-16; 10:19-25). The greatest of ministries is a fervent prayer life for one another through our access to God by the one who makes intercession for us, that is, Christ Himself (Rom. 8:26-27; 1Tim. 2:5).

Meetings for the Purpose of Building Up Believers

The Apostle Paul’s goal was to present every person mature in Christ (Col. 1:28). It is evident that the early church gathered for the purpose of maturing believers and Paul, in writing to the church at Corinth, gave directions that edification should be the goal of every meeting of the church (1Cor. 14:26). Therefore, our meetings are primarily to help believers grow in relationship to Jesus Christ. This we attempt to do by teaching/preaching the whole counsel of Scripture and through mutual sharing and prayer in our meetings (Acts 2:42-47).

Evangelism as a Lifestyle

One prominent preacher frequently asks his congregation, “Where does the church go between Sundays?” The concept of the church more as a building and meetings rather than the people of God is widespread today. Therefore, a pattern has developed of trying to bring the world to a meeting of the church to hear the gospel. This has validity if we understand that we should bring someone to our meetings not primarily to hear a message, but to see love and unity among believers (John 13:34-35; 17:20-23). However, every believer is responsible for sharing his/her faith in “his/her world,” i.e., neighborhood, job, sphere of influence and activity (Matt. 28:18-20). being a Christian is something we are because of Christ’s life in us, not being a salesman for God. Evangelism is simply sharing our life in Christ and leaving the results to God.

Need for Worship

Man has been created to worship. We all worship something. To worship the living God is to respond to His revelation of Himself, primarily through His Word. We desire to focus on the person and work of God in our meetings and encourage those present to respond to Him. We pattern our worship by exposing people to God’s Word and giving opportunity for response in praise musically or sharing verbally. In all of this, we realize that worship is a matter of the heart and no specific form will cause a man or woman to truly worship God. God is Spirit and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24).

Leadership through Elders

Christ is the head of the universal church and also of every local church (Eph. 1:22-23). Therefore, leadership in any local church should not reside in any one man but in a group of men who are diligently seeking the mind of the Lord and desiring strongly to serve the church of God (1 Tim. 3:1-7). The elders are to be men who see themselves as our Lord did, a servant who leads by example, not as a dictator over the people (Matt. 20:25-28; 23:8-12). Each elder, therefore, is primarily involved in active discipleship, not church management (Acts 20:17-35; 1Peter 5:1-4). The deacons function to assist elders in their leadership of serving the members of the church (Acts 6:1-6, 1Tim. 3:8-13)

Expository Preaching

We believe the Scripture should be set out before the people in a systematic manner. In our preaching, therefore, we attempt to let the Scripture speak for itself rather than deciding upon a topic the people need to hear and trying to find a text to back it up. One writer has said, “To preach in an expository way is to ‘expose’ or to ‘place out’ before men the message of God in a given section of Scripture. When we expound on a passage of God’s Book, we draw out the argument, doctrine or ethical implication.” The goal of this preaching is not that people would simply be instructed, but that all would be built up in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. This happens as the Spirit of God enlightens the minds of those who hear the Word and applies it to their lives (1Tim. 4:12-16; 2Tim. 2:22-26; 3:16-4:4; 1Cor. 2:6-16).

Involvement in Missions

The pattern of the early church shows clearly that the leadership sensed a responsibility to identify and send out people from among themselves who should go as witnesses for Jesus Christ and establish local churches in all places (Acts 13-14). Our ultimate goal is to see God raise up people within our own body of believers that we could send out with full support to minister in other parts of the world. We also do support various missions and missionaries and encourage our people to become involved with support through prayer, letters of encouragement and finances. We also encourage our people to become involved in “short-term” missions projects.

Church Membership and Giving

There is no formal membership role at Grace Fellowship. We believe the church is unlike any other organization on earth. It is more of an organism than an organization. A person is made a part of the church by faith in Christ and baptized by the Spirit into the body at the time of new birth (1Cor. 12:13). We cannot make anyone a member of our church. When a person demonstrates commitment to this body of believers he/she is recognized as a member. We believe that giving is an expression of worship. We do not take offerings, but provide a box for gifts to the Lord. We do not make emotional appeals for money, but keep our members informed of the needs (2Cor. 9:6-8).

Importance of Families

Godly and biblically-infused families are necessary for the Church and for thriving communities. They do much, in and of themselves, to proclaim the Gospel to the world. Therefore, we place significant emphasis on empowering both members and pastors to cultivate strong marriages and families.