A philosophy is a "system of thought about a particular subject". As Christians, it's important to be thinkers so that we know not just what we should be doing and how, but why. In this generation we can't afford to be doctrinally sloppy, and thinking through the "why?" of things is a great preventative measure against this. Here are just a few of our thoughts on some very important church subjects...
Discipleship: Though salvation is freely offered by grace through faith for all who believe, true discipleship of saved people requires a degree of willingness to make personal sacrifice. We must not hide the qualifications of real discipleship from people. Jesus did not hide them. Informed decisions are the best kind. (Luke 14:25-33, Mark 10:28)
Knowing limitations: Christian growth is encouraged and helped along by pastors and churches but individuals must make a conscious choice to grow in Christ on their own. It cannot be forced or manipulated, and it takes time. In the lives of people we must acknowledge what is our responsibility as Christian leaders, and what is God's. (1 Pet 5:2-3, 2 Tim 2:24)
Approaching people: There is nothing Christ-like about rudeness. There is also nothing Christ-like about hiding painful truth under the guise of love. This balance is a lifelong challenge and it is one we endeavor to always be improving at. (Eph. 4:15, 2 Tim 2:24)
Sanctification: This very important doctrine hasn't changed. The commands to holiness and the principles by which we become more holy and Christ-like are still in Scripture and include imperatives. We are to apply Bible precepts (teachings), Bible principles, and even be sanctified in our preferences. Sanctification is a work of God in the believer, but that does not eliminate the believers' responsibility to respond with obedience of his own volition. (Tit 2:11-15, 1 Tim 6:11, Eph 4:22, Col 3:9, et. al.)
- Jurisdictions: What many fail to realize is that God ordained the home when He ordained marriage and gave the responsibility of children to parents. The home is a sacred unit. He also ordained the Church. This is a separated and distinct unit. Fathers and mothers are given jurisdiction in the home, and pastors and deacons are given jurisdiction in the church. One jurisdiction is not to infringe on the other, and there must be a mutual, two-way respect and spirit of cooperation between them. Many practical applications arise from this principle. (Gen 2:22-24, Deut 6:6-7, Eph 5:22-6:4, 1 Tim 3:1-13)
- Ambition: To many, a "great" church is one where many programs exist, huge crowds gather, and millions of dollars are spent on decor and the like. While nothing is inherently wrong with doing those things that is not the definition of true greatness. From Scripture it would appear that faithfulness and obedience are really what is great. That would mean that churches both large and small can be equally great in the eyes of the Lord if faithfulness and obedience to the Lord and His Word are their preoccupations. His opinion is the one that matters anyway. As Christian leaders we are not called to produce results, but rather to be faithful. (1 Cor 4:2, Phil 2:5-8)
- Preaching: Many love preaching that tickles the ears and is done in an entertaining style. Preaching is not sanctified entertainment. Real preaching must be from Scripture. It must be rich with Bible doctrine. It must give a greater understanding of the text, not simply a greater understanding of a moral or practical concept. Expository preaching is the most effective way (though not the only way) to accomplish this. In this way the Scriptures can, as it were, speak for themselves. This kind of preaching can be both dynamic/engaging and rich with Bible content. We certainly make no claims to having mastered this, but it is our constant endeavor to approach preaching in this way.
- Study: It is our goal to foster an environment in which serious personal Bible study is encouraged. We don't pretend to have all the answers ourselves, but we do have the Bible, which is the final authority on matters. That's why knowing how to study is so critical. It helps us find Bible answers for ourselves and it is the responsibility of every Christian to know what they believe and why. We endeavor to equip believers with the tools needed for study. From the smallest child to the most senior of saints, serious Bible study can not only be understood but can be enjoyable. In this way, Christians can sharpen one another. Learning the Bible is not simply educational for the mind, but transformative in the heart and life. This kind of transformation brought about by the Word of God reaching the heart is one of the major goals of our ministry.
- Thinking: It really is becoming a lost art! While there is much to think about in our generation, it's easy to get bogged down with unproductive and discouraging thoughts - the results being unedifying speech. We should think long and hard enough about error in these difficult times to answer it fully, but not to the point that our speech becomes bitter, course, and negative. Being a thinking person is NOT for the purpose of knowing things other people do not know, or for positioning oneself in a place of judgement over another, or for forming cliques in which one has to be a theologian to feel comfortable. Having the right kind of thinking IS for purpose of God's people being like-minded one with another. This kind of thinking needs parameters. Scripture gives us those parameters! (Phil 1:27 ff.