The Scripture is the highest authority that we must obey. Our activities, events, and goals must be in line with the Bible, or we will not be in God’s will. Below is an outline of what we believe the Scriptures teach in regard to our local church. This is a vision statement. We are aiming at following these guidelines realizing that no one is able to completely accomplish them all of the time. If you read it and agree with us, maybe you are to be a part of us. We are not saying this vision is for everyone, but if it is for you, join us on our quest to obey the Lord and be Living Epistles, known and read by all men…2Cor 3:2.
1. “… I will build my church . . .” (Matthew 16:18).
“… and the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved …” (Acts2:47).
It would appear from these Scriptures that the Lord is the One who is responsible for church growth. When we focus on our growth we lose sight of what is really important– pleasing the Lord and serving others. Growth is a by-product, not the product. As our relationships grow with the Lord and each other, we will be “added to” as the Lord desires.
God added believers and disciples, not members. Local churches are functioning fellowships that exist to edify believers, worship God, pray for the needs of people, and send out those whom God is calling to full-time ministry.
2. “… As we therefore have opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10).
God’s desire for us is to be those who reach out. We are not to be self-centered. He wants us to be aware of the needs of others, and to help meet those needs. We are to serve all men, but especially those of our own household of faith.
1. We will pray that the Lord will add to our body those who are suppose to be with us. We will not resort to worldly methods to promote our church and ourselves. Our membership will be based on relationships, not paper.
Believers are considered a member of Hope Family Fellowship when they do the following: participate in the meetings, give regularly to the ministry, pray for the ministry, have relationships within the church, and provide a photo for the pastor to pray for them.
Fellowship is a by-product of believers who are committed to the same goals. Relationships are birthed from spending time together, praying together, and having a common goal. As we sacrificially give to each other, we will grow in the grace of God, and depth of relationship one with another. Serving together strengthens relationships.
2. We will help each other and those in our community. We will be zealous unto good works. Our light should so shine before men as to be an attraction to the Lord, not a distraction or blot on His name. We will not engage in any activity that would bring shame on our Lord’s name. We will promote activities that are service oriented, and that help us reach out to others. We will help each other grow in our own special gifting from the Lord.
3. “It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer …” (Matthew 21:13).
“Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations?” (Mark 11:17).
“These I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer … for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:7).
“… We will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).
At least five times God told us that His house is to be a house of prayer. Jesus spent much time in prayer. The church began during a time of prayer on the day of Pentecost. (See Acts 1:14). It grew through prayer when Peter was in prison (See Acts 12:5). The Apostles gave themselves to prayer. Paul’s first charge to Timothy and the churches was that prayer should be made for all peoples, leaders, and that all should come to repentance. (See 1Timothy 2:1-5).
Believers and non-believers expect the church to pray. Prayer should be the work of the church, not an afterthought.
4. “The borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).
“… my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19).
God never intended for His church to be a slave to anyone. The renowned missionary, Hudson Taylor, stated, “God’s work, done in God’s way, will not lack God’s support. He is too wise a God to frustrate His purposes for lack of funds. He is just as able to provide beforehand as afterward, and He much prefers to do so.”
3. We will instruct believers in all aspects of prayer, including supplication, intercession, and giving thanks.
We will have regular times of prayer as a corporate body.
We will fulfill God’s requirements for having our prayers answered by confessing any secret sin, forgiving offenders, asking those whom we offend to forgive us, living with our wives in an understanding way, and pulling down strongholds.
We will pray for those in authority including public officials, community leaders, and pastors in our city. We will pray for them and their families that they will be wise ministers of God for doing good.
We will make known to the body any prayer requests and the answers that the Lord gives.
We will devote ourselves to prayer as the chief priority of the church and not as an afterthought.
We will pray for troubled families in our community, including our extended families, and make ourselves available to help in any way the Lord would lead.
4. We will only borrow money on appreciating assets believing God to provide the ability to pay off any short-term debt incurred quickly.
We will help each family come to financial freedom by encouraging them to retire debt as quick as possible. Families who are free of debt are in a much better position to help support the work of the ministry.
We will spend time in prayer seeking God for each item needed. We will not make hasty decision in the area of finances, but wait on God’s leading until He makes His will known and clear.
5. “No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.” (Acts 5:13).
God never intended non-believers or carnal Christians to feel comfortable in His church. In the early church, no man dared to join himself to the believers, even though all the people held them in high esteem because of their good works that they were doing. It is vital that the highest possible standards be reinforced and encouraged by all those within the church.
6. “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4).
God does not want His church to look like the world. We are told to come out from among them, and to be separate. (See 2 Corinthians 6:14-18). God desires for His church to be different, a unique people who show forth the praises of God. (See 1 Peter 2:9).
Charles Spurgeon declared, “The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the Church that part of its mission is to provide entertainment to the people, with the view of winning them… Providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the church. Entertainment ministries, will in the long term, promulgate worldliness.”
A local pastor has been quoted as saying “The world has done a much better job of evangelizing the church, than the church has done evangelizing the world.”
7. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2: 1-4).
God desires for us to know our government officials and the problems they and their families face. He expects us to pray for them and hold them up, not to run them down and complain about them. God wants us to serve and pray for those who are in authority.
5. We will be committed to maintaining a holy church, rather than a popular church. Our goal will not be to evangelize sinners in our church, but to build up and equip saints so that they can be effective in evangelizing, first their own children, and then those in the community.
We will not compromise godly standards or the requirements of worship in order to attract non-Christians to our meetings. Instead, we will maintain the highest levels of spirituality by exhorting one another daily, lest any be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (See Hebrews 3:13).
6. We will carefully evaluate every activity and event in our church on the basis of how it will build up each believer in the faith. We will reject every activity that causes a weaker brother to stumble, or to be offended, or to be made weak. We realize that we are not in the entertaining business, but in the work of worship. We will promote worship that is God directed, not entertainment oriented.
We will challenge our young people to come up to a higher standard, rather than sinking down to the lowest common standard. We will promote godliness, not worldliness. If we are in doubt, we will choose the higher standard.
We realize that our best evangelism tool is our countenance. When those who are lost and dying see the glory of God on our faces, we will have an abundance of opportunities to share our faith. The lost will be drawn to the light in our eyes and on our faces, and will want to know how to have the same life for themselves.
7. We will teach our church to pray for our leaders and their families. We will not seek our glory or take the credit for it, but seek the welfare of our city and let the glory go to God.
We will encourage each other to be zealous for good works according to Titus 2:11-14.
We will serve those who are in authority over us, and thereby fulfill Jesus’ command in Mark 10:44, – “And whosoever of you wants to be the greatest, shall be a servant of all.”
8. “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Teach them to your children. Talk about them as you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
God intended for fathers to take a very active role in training their children. God never intended for the church, school, or any other formal institution to take the place of the family. God created the family as the place of education, nurturing, and training of children, and the father as the key instructor in the home.
9. “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” (I Corinthians 11:31-32).
God designed the Lord’s Supper to be a time of self-examination in order to avoid judgment.
10. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” (John 15: 16).
“…Another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10).
God is always more interested in lasting fruit than quick, flashy, temporary growth. The “end does not justify the means.” We are told to make disciples, not converts in the great commission of Matthew 28:19.
8. We will establish effective training and accountability programs for fathers, so they can in turn train their children, and effectively minister to their wives.
We will design activities that encourage families to be together, and not tear it apart. We will help families learn to function as effective teams, not isolated units.
We will encourage older children to be role models and encouragers to the younger children, so they can become the best of friends.
We will help each member of the family learn how best to serve and support the whole family.
9. We will have frequent and regular times of self-examination. Before we remember the Lord’s Table, we will take time to examine ourselves and correct any sin or relationship problems that we are aware of.
We will especially emphasize the need for every believer to forgive those who have sinned against him or her.
10. We will be committed to the disciplines and requirements for obtaining lasting spiritual fruit among all the believers under our spiritual care.
We will realize that lasting fruit takes time. The process is not always exciting, flashy, or spectacular, but the result is fruit that will remain.
Since lasting growth is a product of strong families, we will emphasize this aspect of our ministry.
11. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (II Corinthians 10:4-5).
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12).
“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:15).
God has won the victory over the evil one on Calvary, yet Satan is still at liberty to tempt believers and to torment those who are drawn into his deceptions.
The battlefield is the human soul, and in particular, the mind. Christ’s victory at the cross gives us authority to resist the devil, and to overcome him.
11. We will learn about the confidence and authority we have in Christ, and how to appropriate His victory in spiritual warfare.
We will make sure that our lives are holy and blameless before God so that Satan cannot accuse us before our Heavenly Father.
We will identify areas of our life that we have allowed the devil to have “place” or “ground” according to Ephesians 4:27. Theses areas are allowed through going to bed angry, having secret sins, committing iniquity, or having unrepentant hearts.
We will confess our specific sins to God, ask Him to restore our souls, and then tear down the false concepts with which Satan has blinded us. (See 1 John 1:9).
We will take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ through the practice of memorization and meditation of Scripture, so our minds can be renewed. (See Romans 12:1-2).