a.) The Universal church is a living and spiritual community of baptized believers, not bound by time or location, with Christ as the head and all regenerated persons as members.
b.) The local church consists of believers in Jesus, baptized on profession of faith and associated in covenant relationship by faith and fellowship in the gospel for worship, ministry, fellowship and mission. The church is literally “the called out ones”.
c.) The Church, as ambassadors, is given God’s mission of redemption and ministry of reconciliation to make disciples by imploring people on Christ’s behalf to be reconciled to God through Jesus and to build up disciples by growing in the gospel and unity of the faith.
d.) The Church’s final authority is Jesus Christ and the Bible.
e.) The Church’s biblical leadership roles are elder and deacon, who fulfill cooperative functions leading the church in measurable thresholds of discipleship and equipping the church in gospel influence and empowerment for the work of ministry in God’s redemption mission because whatever God is going to do in the world He will do through all of Christ’s people, the church.
Biblical Pattern of Elders: Elder is used in reference to a unique group of leaders responsible for overseeing and leading a local church in spiritual discernment, personal growth and gospel mission. Elder or overseer is used forty times synonymously for the same office with other terms (pastor, shepherd or teacher) used to describe different elder functions not different offices or levels of authority. The Bible teaches that each local church was not led by a single pastor or elder but had a plurality of elders (1 Tim 1:5, James 5:14, Acts 14:23). This plurality helps assure decisions are not self-willed or self-serving to any one individual (Prov 11:14) as Elders work interdependently, each using their gifts to compliment one another, with no one elder having more authority than another. Decisions are made in prayer, study and seeking the will of God until consensus is achieved. The unity and harmony the Lord desires for the whole church begins with those He has appointed to shepherd it. The effectiveness of a church is directly related to Spirit led leadership. Qualifications for elder are listed in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3. 5
Biblical Pattern of Deacons: Deacons are introduced in Acts 6. Deacon comes from a greek word meaning to serve. Deacon is not an office or role of authority but one of example, ministry and service. Each church chose a plurality of deacons, affirmed by the apostles, who tended to ministry needs and the application of the gospel into church life, freeing Elders to equip the church for the work of ministry. Deacons organize, empower and release men and women for ministry. Qualifications for deacon are in 1 Timothy 3.
f.) The local church is autonomous and independent of any governing authority, religious or governmental, but should endeavor to cooperate with other churches in gospel mission.
g.) The church, in union with Jesus, is part of the Kingdom of God, but is not the totality of it.
Matt 28:19-20; Acts 1:6-8; 14:23; 15:22,23; 20:17-28; I Cor 12; Eph 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 4; Col 1:18; I Tim 3; Heb 10:23-25, Titus 1; I Pet 5:1-4;