These articles were written when we began pastoring the church in Albox
Church Foundations 01
Because we have the absolute certainties of God and His Word, we can walk in the peace of His promises.
You have the right to know what your pastors believe and why; and to see where God is directing us for this new season.
The works of His hands are verity and justice; All His precepts are sure.
8 They stand fast forever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.
We know that His Word is true, His promises are sure and that He cares for us in truth and righteousness.
As we move into a new season in the church, we know that we too must move and act in that truth and righteousness, with everything open to the light of His Word.
As for today, we know that “Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God”. _(Ps 92:13)_ Blessings. Ps A & J
1. Jesus calls the church His church.
18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
2. Jesus and His Word are one.
1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
Colossians 1:14-17 backs this up as it speaks of the Son. . .
14. .. in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
15. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
It’s His church so He makes the rules.
His Word is the rule book, the standard, and the judge for all things concerning His church.
The Bible was written for us, everyday people, to be read and understood. Sure, there are depths to be discovered, wonderful types and shadows to be explored, but the Bible really is here for everybody in every situation.
Basic principles of interpretation act as a safeguard against our own thoughts and ideas getting in the way. These basics include:
– The Word is the truth.
– Truth is not subjective. Circumstances and personal experiences may be valid, but they don’t change the truth.
– Scripture speaks for itself. We start with what it actually says.
– Verses are to be read in context. We can’t ‘slice and dice’ a passage to suit our ideas.
– Scripture is the best tool to interpret and support scripture.
Whatever we do always starts with Jesus.
Our lives must be in absolute accord with the Word in all areas.
Whatever we say must be undergirded by scripture.
Wherever we go we must be guided by the Holy Spirit.
What do we understand the Church to be?
We first look at the church as a whole because everything here applies when we look at our own, local church.
A. The Church is Present and Active
Just as God is immanent (permanently present and apparent as He sustains the universe), the church is permanently present on the earth. It is clear and apparent in His work, as it invades the darkness and sustains His Word.
From the time of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, together with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, up until today, the church has always existed.
There is not a moment when His body was not present and active on the earth.
B. Church is Community
As Christians, we don’t go to church. We are the church. But we’re not called to function as isolated units.
Jesus calls His church His body:
As that body what we can do gathered together far surpasses what we can do alone.
So we gather, meeting at certain times in a building we may call our church. What a privilege to have such a place, and what a privilege to be part of a local church community!
The church is by its very essence a community. Disconnecting from the church community weakens the body, and weakens the person who disconnects.
C. The Church is Not Perfect
Because we are not perfect – the only perfect one is Jesus.
Yet Jesus started the church with imperfect people, and He’s trusted it to us for 2 000 years.
The New Testament is not a story of a faultless church where everything worked perfectly all the time.
So if we miss it, if we make mistakes as individuals or as a group, it’s OK. That’s human.
What matters is what we do next: Recognise our errors, get back to the Word, and get on with the purpose of the church.
D. The Church is God’s Way
– of caring for His sheep, the ones who have received Jesus as their personal Saviour and Lord.
– of growing and equipping them for His purposes.
– of reaching the rest of the world that Jesus died for, those who have not yet come to know Him.
One person on their own cannot reach the whole world. One local church cannot be all things to all men.
But one church, any church – regardless of size – united in purpose and vision, can do great things.
The members of that local body can do what God has called them to do, both corporately and individually, and the world will be impacted.
This is where we come in as a local church.
River of Life right now could be considered to be a ‘small church’ – just the same as nearly 50% of the churches in America.
Yes, the land of mega-churches and telethons actually has that many churches with less than 100 members.
Q: Do Numbers Matter?
A: What matters is that People matter!
Gathering with other believers in church is a central aspect of spiritual growth. Church is where we meet to worship and serve Jesus. It’s also the place we bring people who don’t yet know Him.
A church’s effectiveness isn’t defined by the attendance – but that doesn’t mean that we should ignore it.
‘Numbers’ is not the goal. It’s a thermometer. It tells us if what we’re doing is effective.
Are people coming, and finding a church that is welcoming in every way? A church that serves and worships God with such spirit and truth that they want to stay?
Are people who don’t know Jesus being drawn in by His presence among us?
We can’t make a church grow. Only God can do that. But we can position our church to grow.
How Can we Position Ourselves to be Effective?
Accept the biblical mission of the church, as we’ve already talked about.
Then ask ourselves the questions:
- “What is it that God has called us as a church to do?
- How is He directing us to do it?”
- What is it about our physical location, our resources, our people, that God can uniquely use to change our community with the Gospel?
- What do we need to do – whatever it is, big or small – to be sure that we are a place that people want to come to?
If we find the answers and do what’s needed, then the numbers God has for us will come.
We must be willing to review everything around us, and everything we do. There may be things we need to cut out, new strategies to implement.
When we do our part we know God will do His.
A small church is a unique, exciting opportunity to see God’s hand at work in the congregation and in the local community.
What Do we See in our Church Right Now?
Hope. Promise. Potential. Opportunity. Openness.
What is the God-ordained prime purpose for River of Life & church Without Walls?
The same as it was for the original church 2000 years ago.
The same as it is for the church universal.
The same as it is for every local church:
- The gathering of believers together
- to worship God in song, prayer and the Lord’s Supper,
- to study His Word,
- to encourage one another in the Faith,
- to care for one another practically,
- to reach others with the gospel.
How do we see the future of our church?
Exciting and challenging. We are saved. We are keen to study the Word and be good servants. We are surrounded by communities who offer countless opportunities for the gospel to be preached.
As a local church we have to be both forward looking and outward-looking.
Our vision is to reach people, to lead people into a growing relationship with Him, in whatever fresh forms that may take.
Our first action has been to step up the digital presence of the church. This Group is a start, and online church services and meetings are ready to launch.
Will this mean Change?
Not to the message, only to methods.
We are to follow the mission not cling to a model.
One is sacred. The other is not.
Crisis is an accelerator, and if God had wanted everything in the church to continue exactly as it has been, then he would not have brought each one of us here for this time.
It can be uncomfortable to step out into the unknown. Our human nature would rather stick with what’s familiar and in our control.
But God didn’t create us to sit in comfort. He calls us to grow and stretch and step out. Through it all He will never leave us.
There is a place to serve and a part to play for everyone
This is who we believe God is calling us all to be as a church.
Our Mission. Our Vision. Our Values.
As Martin Luther is quoted as saying 500 years ago: Here we stand, We can do no other, God help us.