Frequently Asked Questions
What denomination are you affiliated with?
You often here churches describe themselves as "non-denominational." We would actually go a step beyond this and use the term "anti-denominational." Not only are we not affiliated with any man-made denomination, we oppose such divisions. We are of this mind because Jesus taught the same.
Jesus said he would build His church (singular) in Matthew 16:18. Paul expresses that Jesus is the Savior of the body (not bodies) in Ephesians 5:23. Likewise, in the preceding chapter (4:4), Paul says there is "one body" (i.e. the church cf. Ephesians 1:22-23).
Jesus, in His prayer to His Father in John 17, prayed that his disciples would all be one (cf. vs. 20-21). Jesus wants his followers to be unified, not divided.
We believe this is possible when we adhere to God's word and do not omit or alter certain portions or add in our own traditions. (cf. 2 John 9; Matthew 15:8-9; 23:23)
"Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." (1 Corinthians 1:10)
How are you organized?
We strive to follow the New Testament pattern of each congregation of the Lord's church being autonomous. In other words, our elders do not oversee other congregations and elders elsewhere do not have oversight over us. In Acts 14:23, Paul appointed elders in each congregation that had been established along his journey. Peter writes that elders were to shepherd the flock "among them" in 1 Peter 5:2. We have two men serving as elders to follow the pattern of there always being a plurality mentioned in the New Testament. Elders in each congregation are to sheperd the flock in accordance with the Chief Shepherd's authority (i.e. Christ cf. 1 Peter 5:3-4 (note: not as lords, but as examples); John 10:10).
We also have men appointed as deacons (a word which designates a servant). Paul gave qualifications for this role in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. While not specifically referred to as deacons in Acts 6:1-7, the men chosen in this passage to serve the local congregation give us a good idea of how this role operates. Deacons assist with various practical needs relating to the congregation.
We also have a man appointed to do the work of an evangelist. Timothy is a good example of someone serving in this role in the Scriptures. Paul told Timothy to "give attention to reading, exhortation, and doctrine" in 1 Timothy 4:13. He also tells Timothy to "preach the word" at all times being ready to "convince, rebuke" and "exhort with all longsuffering and teaching." (2 Timothy 4:2)
In all that we do, we look to Christ as the one who possesses "all authority." (Matthew 28:18)
What can I expect when visiting?
In our assemblies, we seek to do everything decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40). In other words, you can expect things to be orderly and reverent as we seek to worship God. When we come together, we do our best to remember that God is the audience and not ourselves. We do not gather to be entertained, but to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24)
We sing hymns and do not use mechanical instruments. Our reasoning for this is not because we are old fashioned or do not enjoy the guitar, drums, or piano. Rather, we seek to respect what God has specified in relation to this issue. In Ephesians 5:19, we are told to speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. We recognize that the word translated "psalms" (the Greek psallo) can refer to a piece of music played on an instrument, however, it does not always mean this and the context is key to a proper interpretation. In the verse under consideration, Paul goes on to say we should sing and make melody in our hearts to the Lord. Thus, the context would dictate that our voices are to be the instrument with our hearts (i.e. minds) intimately engaged in the expression of praise to God. (See also Colossians 3:16)
We partake of the Lord's Supper. Jesus instituted a memorial of His death using the emblems of unleaved bread and the fruit of the vine in Matthew 26:26-29. The bread is meant to cause us to remember His body and the grape juice his shed blood. Paul re-iterates the importance of observing this memorial in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. The early church regularly "broke bread" per what we read in Acts 2:42. Acts 20:7 tells us that they did this upon the first day of the week. This correlates with Paul's instructions for the church to lay by in store (or give) upon each first day of the week (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9:7). While many others choose to partake of this memorial only once a month/year/etc., we recognize God's wisdom in making it a weekly observance. Such keeps Christ's death at the forefront of our minds (as unpleasant as it is to contemplate). Peter tells us that when we forget the price that was paid for our sins, we will lose sight of God's will for us and even become blind (2 Peter 1:9)!
We study the Bible and spend time in prayer. We have Bible classes for all age groups and regular sermons and invitations (shorter lessons with an emphasis on the Gospel call). 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to "be diligent to present" ourselves "approved to God," "rightly handling the word of truth." Being diligent is the idea of persistent effort. Thus, the King James Version's rendition of the phrase "be diligent" as "study" is certainly appropriate. In Hosea 4:6, God expressed that his people were destroyed because of a "lack of knowledge." Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, tells us to "pray without ceasing." This is the idea of making prayer a regular part of our daily lives (including worship). We believe that "the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much!" (James 5:16)
Finally, you can expect plenty of smiles and welcoming faces! Paul describes the church as an intricately connected body (cf. 1 Corinthians 12) and as the "household of God" in Ephesians 2:19. In other words, the church is designed by God to be a family; to be "knit together in love." (cf. Colossians 2:2) Jesus told his disciples that men would know they were His by the love they expressed towards one another (John 13:35).
What do you teach regarding salvation?
We teach what Jesus taught regarding salvation.
Jesus taught that we must believe that He is the Son of God (John 8:24).
Jesus taught that we must repent of (forsake/turn away from) our sins (Luke 13:3, 5).
Jesus taught that we must be baptized (Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:18-20).
Jesus taught that we must be willing to confess Him before men. This involves an initial verbal affirmation of one's belief in Christ as we see the eunuch doing in Acts 8:37 prior to being baptized. It also involves a willingness to continually "confess Him" via our every day manner of life once becoming a Christian (Matthew 10:32-33; Luke 9:23).
This pattern originally taught by Christ, but put into action by his apostles after His death and resurrection, is consistent throughout the NT record. Every case of conversion in the book of Acts involves these steps being either explicitly stated or necessarily inferred.
It should be noted that we do not believe that hearing, believing, confessing, repenting, and being baptized
merits one's salvation. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). There is nothing you or I could ever do to put God in a position of
owing us eternal life. When one submits to the commands of the Gospel, he or she is trusting in God's ability to work or operate upon their soul and allow the blood of Christ to cleanse them.
"In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through
faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses..." (Colossians 2:11-13 - emphasis mine)
What do you do with the money collected from the offering each week?
As the saints were instructed to give upon the first day of the week of their means (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9:7), we follow the same pattern. This is a command for the saints, so while visitors are not prohibited from giving, we do not devote time in our assemblies to make visitors feel pressured to do so.
We recognize that once we give, the money becomes the Lord's (cf. Acts 5:1-4) and, thus, we must use it in the ways that He has authorized.
There are two primary ways in which we see the Lord's money being applied:
1. The support of teaching
Paul talks about the concept of supporting preachers in 1 Corinthians 9:4-14. While Paul was not always exclusively supported by the church (i.e. he at times worked secularly as a tent-maker to support himself (Acts 18:3)), we see that several congregations sent him aid throughout his ministry (Philippians 4:15-16). Paul also suggests that elders are able to be supported monetarily in their work if need be (1 Timothy 5:17-18). In a broad application, the idea here is that saints should use collected funds to ensure that the word is available and being taught accurately. This could extend to purchasing Bibles or other teaching materials for the congregation, maintaining a website for the purpose of outreach, etc.
2. The support of saints in need
There are several examples of the church supporting its own members who are struggling and even those in other places who would fall into the same category. Paul talks about several congregations sending money to needy saints in Jerusalem in Romans 15:25-27. He also discusses the support of widows who are otherwise unable to support themselves in 1 Timothy 5 (notice verse 16 especially). The key thing we must recognize in relation to these collected funds is that we always see them being applied for the assistance of Christians. This is not to say that we, as individual Christians using our personal funds, should not help those outside of the church, but we need to be careful to maintain the distinction. Commands such as the one we read in James 1:27 are addressed to individual Christians. The ideas in this verse correlate well to Matthew 25:37-40. We should each be seeking to do good to all as we have opportunity (cf. Galatians 6:10) and reserve the Lord's money for the specific uses we see authorized in Scripture.
We must always be careful to respect the boundaries that God has put in place remembering that, at times, there will be things that
seem right to us, but, will only lead us astray. (Proverbs 14:12; Colossians 3:17 ("in the name of" designates "by the authority of"); Matthew 7:24-27; Leviticus 10:1-2)