I. Core Commitments
The following are core commitments necessary for faithful ministry.
A. A High View of God
The church must be committed to a high view of God. An appropriately high view of God is the starting point of all wisdom (Prov 9:10), and when the church has this view of God then all other aspects of church life and theology fall into their
proper places. Specifically, an appropriately high view of God must include, but is not limited to, an emphasis on God's sovereignty (Dan 4:17), His holiness (Isa 6:3), His righteousness/justice (Rom 3:24-26), His goodness (Ps 34:8), and His wisdom (Rom 11:33). Apart from a high view of God the church will inevitably tolerate sin and focus her attention on pleasing men rather than glorifying God. This is why the church must be committed to a God-centered ministry, and this requires a high view of God. When the church draws near to God in this way then God will most assuredly draw near to the church (James 4:8-10)
B. The Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture
The church must be committed to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. If the church has a high view of God then by implication it should have a high view of God's word. Every word contained in the 66 books of the bible has been breathed out by God (2 Tim 3:16). This makes it authoritative and
sufficient. The authority of Scripture means that it must be believed and obeyed. Whatever it says the church must do! The bible must never be trivialized, marginalized, or disobeyed. Every word that God has provided is necessary to feed and lead the church (Matt 4:4).The sufficiency of Scripture means that God's word is the only standard necessary for the faith and practice of the church. It is relevant to deal with every conceivable situation. It may not specifically address every situation, but it does provide the principles by which we can faithfully follow God in every situation. Additionally, God's word has been proven true. It always accomplishes it's purpose (Isa 55:11). It is always effective for the work of ministry (2 Tim 3:16-17). Apart from a commitment to the authority and sufficiency of scripture the church will not be guided by God. Personal experience and contemporary wisdom will replace the word of
God as the driving force of ministry. In the end, when the church is not committed to God's word it can never live up to God's standards. Thus, the church must be committed to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.
C. The Need for Sound Doctrine
The church must be committed to the need for sound doctrine. By definition sound doctrine is systematic teaching that holdsfast to the faithful word of Scripture and is accordance with the teaching of Scripture (Tit 1:9). The church has been entrusted with the task of developing and defending a sound theology that proceeds from the authoritative and sufficient Word of God. Specifically, the leadership of the church has the two-fold responsibility to "exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict [sound doctrine]." (Tit 1:9) Doctrine is not optional for the church! The overwhelming trend to water down doctrine or deemphasize its importance must be resisted by the church. The health and fate of the church depends in large part on the ability of its leadership to articulate and defend sound doctrine (1 Tim 4:6-8). Strange and false doctrines are constantly being propagated by Satan and the church must be committed to the need for sound doctrine in order to overcome the schemes of the evil one.
D. The Significance of a Holy Church
The church must be committed to the significance of a holy church. The church belongs to God and it must be holy as He is holy (Lev 11:45). It must preserve and model a standard of holiness that reflects a true fear of God (2 Cor 7:1). This standard of holiness is critical for the growth of individual believers in the church (1 Pt 1:13-16), and it is critical for the corporate testimony of the church (Phil 2:14-6). In order to maintain a proper standard of holiness the church must be willing to confront unrepentant sinners within the church. In some cases church discipline must be implemented (Matt 18:15-17) to protect the holiness of the church and to restore an individual back into this holiness. The dangers in lowering the standards of the church to match the standards of the world are innumerable. At the very least the church would forfeit its sanctifying influence on society, lose its members to sin, and ultimately cripple it's ability to please God. Thus, the church must be committed to the significance of a holy church.
E. The Priority of Biblical Leadership
The church must be committed to the priority of biblical leadership. It must not derive it's leadership principles from any other source than the bible. This means, first of all, that the Christ is the head of the church (Eph 5:23) and secondly that Christ mediates His rule over the church through godly elders
(Heb 13:7). These elders are men of a godly character (1 Tim 3:1-7) who have been providentially placed in a position of authority over the church. Their role is to feed and lead the church through prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4). They are to minister to the church according to the gifts that God has given them. Never are they to lord their authority over the church. They must always remember that their authority is derived from Christ's authority, and thus only valid when based on the word of God. Through love and example they are to gently shepherd the church (1 Pt 5:1-4). A failure on the part of the elders to lead in this way will undoubtedly lead to disunity just as a failure to submit to the elders on the part of the church will lead to disunity. The church must be committed to the priority of biblical leadership, otherwise it will reject the mediated rule of Christ.
II. Community Conduct
Based on the core commitments of the church, the following conduct must be found in the community of believers.
The church must be an exalting church. It is to function as a place where the people of God gather together routinely to worship the person and work of God making it, primarily, a worshipping community (Eph. 1:6). Because the church exists to exalted God rather then man, it must be uniquely Godcentered in all that it does. Corporate worship is to be the central focus of the life of the church.
The preaching and teaching of God's word is to be the primary activity of the church, especially on the Lord's Day. To this end, God has given the church gifted men to equip believers through the teaching of the word (Eph 4:11-12). The scriptures need to be taught and explained so that the people understand what God is saying. This explanation must include an explanation of the implications that biblical principles have in the life of individuals. The primary mode of proclamation should be the verse-by-verse exposition of Scripture throughout the entire content of individual books of the Bible.
The church carries the mandate to take the message of the Gospel to the entire world (Matt 28:19-20). This requires that the church be an evangelizing church, both to those "next door" and to those around the world. This mandate to make disciples belongs to the entire community of believers. Every individual is to seek out relationships by which they can have a spiritual influence on another person (i.e. discipleship). Every individual has been providentially placed where they are in life so that they can fulfill this purpose, and bring the gospel to those apart from Christ. It is the church's job to train, encourage, and support individuals in this effort (Eph 4:12).