21 Core Beliefs
Our 21 Core Beliefs are the beliefs and concepts that our church GraceLife Ministries (GLM) was founded on and continues to revolve around today. Consequently, they color the culture and personality of our church. In short, they define us. They distinguish us from all other churches. Our 21 Core Beliefs are our deepest values. They are those things that no one will ever be able to change about us when they come in to our church from the world, or from another church. They are things that we can never change, modify, exchange, alter, or just do away with. As we shall soon see, Our 21 Core Beliefs are the distilled essence of a number of scriptures, they are also a product of our theology, and they shape our operating philosophy and steer our actions.
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (Romans 3:10)
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23)
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. (John 3:7)
According to Jesus, you must undergo a conversion of belief which leaves you convinced that God exists, that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and that He is the only Savior of the world. You cannot “opt out” of being saved, although many have thought they could. You are not saved automatically, nor through your good works, or by being a good person. You must ask for and receive God’s grace. If you do not do this, or if you have never had such an experience, or if you can not say with certainty that you have been forgiven and are confident that you are going to go to heaven when you die, then two very sad facts apply to your life: 1.) You are NOT going to heaven. 2.) The other sad fact is that God, Jesus, the Bible, church attendance, other Christians, none of these will make any sense at all to you. Meeting Jesus Christ and experiencing the joy and warmth of His grace and forgiveness is the only key that will open your understanding to all these other things.
Therefore, the salvation experience is the starting point for every individual who becomes a Christian and it is, therefore, the number one priority that must be addressed both by individuals and the church.
ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. (Acts 1:5)
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me (Acts 1:8)
Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? (Acts 19:2)
be filled with the Spirit; (Ephesians 5:18)
Just as we have no power to save ourselves, we also do not have the power necessary to live and minister as God wants. Therefore, as always, God empowers us both to serve and to obey Him. This is the concept Jesus was speaking to when He promised the disciples that they would “receive power” in Acts 1:8. This power had been prophesied by the prophet Joel in the Old Testament and by John the Baptist in the New Testament.
Thus, this power was not only prophesied and promised but it was also “produced” on the day of Pentecost when Jesus kept His promise to the disciples by baptizing them with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-42). The baptism of the Holy Spirit was subsequently ministered to other believers as well by the Apostle Paul as we see in the Acts 19 passage.
The Bible clearly teaches that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a second work of grace that God performs in us. It is experienced, i.e., received, after our salvation and only by those who have been truly saved. The reason this experience, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, is so important is because of the effectiveness it creates in its recipients. It is, as promised, power for witnessing!!
where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17)
you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV)
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36 NIV)
you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, (Romans 6:22 NIV)
the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1)
The main thrust of these verses is that no Christian needs to continue to live bound by the old sins and habits they developed in the world back when they were controlled by their flesh and the enemy. Granted, exercising one’s full freedom over certain deeply ingrained habits such as drugs, alcohol, adultery, smoking, cursing, bitterness, hatreds, and grudges, may prove to be a difficult struggle marked by fits and starts, advances and retreats. Yet, the Bible is quite clear, freedom from the old life is ours. That freedom was purchased for us, and is now subsequently offered to us by Christ Himself by virtue of His death on the cross. Therefore, to say we cannot live free from such things is a direct contradiction of God’s word. Such a statement or position ascribes more power to the devil than to God. Scripturally speaking, there are no sins from which we cannot be delivered, and there are no sins over which we cannot gain total victory, nor are there any sins that the Bible says we are allowed to remain bound to. Such thinking has nothing to do with God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, or the Word. It is purely human, earthly reasoning, if not a “faith” in the power of evil, which God totally rejects.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16)
be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, (James 1:22)
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2)
the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)
blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it. (Luke 11:28)
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matthew 7:24 NIV)
Discipline is crucial to the Christian life. Adhering to the word of God should be the natural desire and orientation of every believer. The word of God is the will of God for every believer. No exceptions. It is an illusion to think that you are pleasing God and that you are right with God when you are intentionally violating specific verses. Notice I said intentionally. You may never “keep” (or obey) all the verses that you know about through out your life, but you should want to! You would be amazed at how well you actually can obey the word when you sincerely try. You will also be amazed at how this discipline of aligning your life the word positions you for many, many great blessings!!! True peace, true satisfaction, and true joy in this life can only be had by living a life that is honestly submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ through an adherence to the word of God.
Without a disciplined adherence to the scriptures, you will never be anything more than a shallow Christian. You will be wishy-washy all your life because you will be going back and forth like a ping-pong ball between trying to live according to your ideas and philosophy of life and the teachings of scripture. In the battle of reason verses revelation, you never want to take the side of man’s reasoning over against the revelation of God that we find in the Bible.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV)
Abide in me, and I in you. . . . without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:4 & 5)
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:8)
It should come as no surprise that living the Christian life requires great commitment. There are sacrifices and difficult decisions that will be required of you. You will not always feel like doing the things you know you should, you may not even want to do the right thing occasionally. Therefore, you must make a commitment.
It is one thing to be involved in the church, and to be involved in your spiritual growth, but it is another thing altogether to be committed to these things. Let me illustrate the difference: when you have ham & eggs for breakfast, you can say that the chicken was involved in producing your breakfast, but the pig was committed! The Lord requires commitment and we do as well.
they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, (Acts 2:42)
they, continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another (I John 1:7)
The first thing Jesus did when He launched His ministry here on earth was to create an intimate community in which He shared His life with His twelve disciples. Christianity is a team sport. There are no lone-ranger Christians in the Bible.
Christian fellowship is unique in that it is predicated on, triggered by, and revolves around, Jesus Christ. What this means is that when people meet together for the express purpose of sharing or studying scriptures with one another, having communion, praying together, testifying about Jesus or the blessings of God in general with each other, then true fellowship has occurred. If people come together and they talk with each other, eat together, (whatever) and they never mention God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, if they never pray, if they never share or contemplate a verse of scripture, then they have NOT had (experienced) Christian fellowship. They have socialized, they have “visited” with each other, but they have not had true fellowship. Socializing is neither wrong nor sinful per se’ but it is not fellowship because Christ was not part of it.
Fellowship is a wonderful thing. God created us to live together. It is a basic human need and it is a richly rewarding, deeply satisfying and pleasurable experience, which is why we value it so highly at GraceLife Ministries.
eagerly desire spiritual gifts, (1 Corinthians 14:1 NIV)
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. (Romans 12:6 NIV)
each hath received a gift, (1 Peter 4:10 ASV)
Spiritual gifts are not listed as the last item in the personal category because they are the least important category to consider. Rather, the reverse is true. Spiritual gifts are, perhaps, one of the most important categories on this list.
Discovering and exercising your spiritual gift is the most exciting and satisfying thing a Christian can do. Using your spiritual gift is the lifestyle you hunger for, it is the way you have always wanted to live, whether you know it or not. The Spiritual gifts God gave you when you received Christ as your savior are perfectly suited to your personality at the deepest of all possible levels. Nothing is more you than your spirit, and God has given you a supernatural ability to perform one or more tasks in the church.
The reason He gave you the gifts that He did is because the church needs people to do the things (fill the roles, perform the tasks) that the various gifts enable believers to perform. So, even though they are extremely fun and satisfying to use, our enjoyment of them is not their main purpose. The main purpose God has given us Spiritual Gifts is for the perpetuation, and the ongoing operation of the church and her ministry.
Thus, we encourage everyone here at GraceLife to seek and discover what their spiritual gifts are and then to begin using them to help our church fulfill its responsibilities (namely to evangelize the lost, and to train converts in living the Christian life). We never want anyone crammed, like a square peg in a round hole, into a position or office in the church that they are not gifted for. That is an almost guaranteed path to certain misery.
If you do not know what your spiritual gifts are, we have tests you can take that will help you find out. Make sure you discover your gifts so that you can begin using them today!! The church needs your help in this way and you need the joy.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19)
woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. (1 Cor 9:16 NAS)
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Pet 3:15 NIV)
do the work of an evangelist, (2 Tim 4:5)
Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. (2 Luke 9:1-2)
And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. (Luke 9:1-2)
It stands to reason that if the number one priority for individuals is that they be saved, then the corresponding top priority for every church congregation should be evangelism. At least this is the position of GraceLife Ministries. Every church service we conduct, every program we provide, and every event we sponsor is geared toward either directly, or indirectly, effectively evangelizing the lost. The purpose of the church is to win the lost, and to train her new converts to live the Christian life. (The church is not an institution that exists solely to provide its members and the public with free religious education and entertainment.)
Every believer has the license, the duty, the responsibility, the privilege and the power to evangelize the lost. Jesus never told the world to go to church. He told the church to go to the world and preach the gospel!!
We define effective evangelism in terms of results. Therefore, just handing someone a track, or saying grace at lunch in front of sinners and claiming to have “evangelized” them, misses the mark by a wide margin. This way of thinking about evangelism falls prey to the common error of mistaking activity for productivity, that a mere proclamation fulfills our obligation. Unfortunately, just timidly going through the motions of such an evangelistic activity rarely produces the desired results of birthing a lost soul into the Kingdom of God.
The ideal we pursuing here at GLM is to train believers themselves to effectively evangelize the lost and to enable them, on their own, to lead lost people into a salvation experience. This prevents the most important purpose of the church, evangelism, from resting solely on one person: the pastor. This is the case in far too many churches. The pastor evangelizes and the congregation cheers him on. Here at GLM, we feel it is better by far to have 100 people evangelizing and one or two people coaching and cheering them on, than it is to have one or two evangelizing with 100 coaches and cheerleaders. Bottom line, evangelism is too important to leave to chance, or to pretend that it is occurring. Evangelism is every member’s job and it has to be the church’s main focus or else the church is no longer a church, it’s just a religious social club.
The Leading of the Holy Spirit
And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit (Luke 4:1)
when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: . . . . he will shew you things to come (John 16:13)
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:13 NIV)
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14)
But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. (Galatians 5:18)
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7)
Doing ministry has both a physical and a spiritual nature. Feeding the hungry is a good example. There is a very heavy physical element to this enterprise due to the simple fact that the food itself must be produced or purchased, prepared or packaged, as well as personally handled to be delivered to the hungry individual. The spiritual element of this particular enterprise has to do with the very decision to undertake such an effort in the first place. We believe the Spirit of God leads people to make decisions to do a variety of ministry tasks.
In discussing this concept of being led of the Spirit we are contemplating one of the central aspects of the Christian life. The verses in this section tell us
conclusively that it is not only possible for believers to be led of the Spirit, but that it is God’s plan for them to be as well. The Spirit sees things we do not, or can not, He knows things that are unique to our situation and it is His function and purpose to reveal truths to us we could not know otherwise.
Both Christians and non-Christians are on a journey called “life on this planet.” The Holy Spirit is the very best guide available to follow in this journey. The challenge a number of Christians face is to lay aside their “own understanding” and to obey the bidding of that still small voice. To do so is to exercise the Christian faith. The Bible serves as the will of God “in general” for all believers, yet there are many issues believers face that the Bible does not address directly. Should I get married to John? This year? Should I change jobs? Should I buy a house or remodel the one I have? Which church should I attend? What should I do once I am there? It should be comforting to know that while the Bible provides little or no specific instructions on a wide variety of issues such as these, the Holy Spirit fills this apparent gap. God never leaves us to fend for ourselves. He is always revealing Himself, and His will, to us. His revealing is never the problem, rather it is always with our receiving! God never forces us to follow Him. Following that still small voice is always a decision we must make. It requires thought and effort and commitment.
Healing and Deliverance
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. (Acts 10:38)
He restoreth my soul: (Psalm 23:3)
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13 NIV)
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)
And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, 15 And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: (Mark 3:14-15)
The Devil loves to prey on people when they are at their weakest. He sends demons to aggravate and exacerbate the situation. Demons are like rats in that they feed on garbage. The more garbage an individual has, simply means that there is that much more food for the demons and that they will have an even stronger presence in, and influence over, a “troubled” person’s life. Unfortunately, no one escapes injuries to their soul. The journey through life on this planet is perilous and painful.
Fortunately, the Bible plainly says that Jesus has given us power and authority over demons. The Holy Spirit can heal us from our old wounds (fresh ones too) and thus eliminate a lot of the garbage in our lives. We really, really can be set free, by the power of God, from our destructive habits and living patterns. It takes time and it takes ministry for this to occur. Therefore, we believe the church should provide a patient, long term ministry of healing and deliverance and that it is the right and privilege of every believer to live free from the power of sin and to be healed from its effects.
Prayer, Study, & Fasting
Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
men ought always to pray, (Luke 18:1)
pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (Matthew 22:37)
we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV)
worshipping with fastings (Luke 2:37 ASV)
When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, (Matthew 6:16 NIV)
Spiritual disciplines such as these (and others) are the fertile grounds out of which the richest of all blessings grow. Books have been written on prayer in vast numbers. I can not sum up prayer in a few lines, but I can at least say the following: no prayer, no life. Know prayer, know life! Prayer is the engine that pulls the train of the abundant life Jesus promised. Prayer is an undeniable act of faith, for to talk sincerely to an entity you can not see requires a good deal of faith.
As for study, we should use our intellect (however scarce!) in the service of our spirituality. We should study as to how we may best live for God. The absolute best thing to study is of course the Bible.
Fasting gives us insights into ourselves as well as the word. Fasting is a way to get control of our fleshly attitudes and appetites. It also enables us to tap into more spiritual power. The best “teacher’ on this subject is the experience itself. Try it, you may not like it, the practice that is, but you will love the results: revelations, wisdom, power, greater self control.
Attendance, Tithing, Service
as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, (Luke 4:16 KJV)
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,
(Hebrews 10:25 NIV)
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; (Malachi 3:10-11)
Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. (Malachi 3:8)
And all the tithe. . . is the LORD’s: it is holy unto the LORD. Lev 27:30
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27 NIV)
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 NAS) Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, (1 Timothy 6:17-18)
In everything set them an example by doing what is good. (Titus 2:7 NIV)
And let our people also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, (Titus 3:14 NAS)
Going to church is an act of worship in and of itself. Jesus was a church goer, it was His custom. Christians are supposed to subscribe to His teachings and follow His examples.Church attendance is an example He set for us to follow. While the impact of church attendance is immediate for some, it takes several weeks of actually going to a church for the potential benefits of church attendance to dawn on most people. Answered prayers, solved problems, relieved anxieties are just a few of the advantages and benefits to be had from sustained church attendance. No wonder we are commanded to not forsake the assembling ourselves together in Hebrews 10:25.
Tithing also is an act of worship because it is an expression of thanksgiving to God for all of His blessings in our lives, including material blessings. What we do with our money reflects our values. We value God by obeying the scriptural instructions to tithe. If you read the above verses and really study them, you will discover that tithing is not optional. That is why we require our members to tithe. For us as a church not to do so would be equal to placing our authority above that of the Bible’s. Even though we are a church, we have no right to undo what God has set in place.
People need to understand also, that since the tithe truly does belong to the Lord, church members should not assume, or act as if, they retain any authority over the money they have given as tithes and offerings. It is clearly unscriptural for anyone to have such an attitude.
If you talk to anyone who has been a “tither” for any length of time, they could tell you a number of stories of how God has blessed their finances supernaturally and how they are eager to tithe even more! To the people who think they can not afford to tithe, I want to say to them that they can not afford not to tithe! To those who may object to the practice because it is too much money to give to the church, I say this: it is only one dime out of every dollar. Do you really want to disobey God for the sake of a dime? Also, God is gracious in only requiring ten percent, the devil will take all he can get.
It is God’s will for us to do good works. We were created to “walk” in them and God has specific good works in mind for each individual. It is our job to discover what those are and to walk in them.
breaking bread from house to house, (Acts 2:46)
how. . . I. . . have taught you publickly, and from house to house, (Acts 20:20)
Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer, 2 And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house: (Philemon 1:1-2)
For the first 350 years, the church had no buildings dedicated solely to the purpose of worship. For a brief while, the early church met in the “Jewish” temple and in private homes. They had large group meetings and small group meetings. Many churches began as one small group meeting in a house.
The two main purposes of small group meetings are fellowship and prayer. Many small groups meet for the purpose of studying a book, or a topic in the Bible. Some people take the latest Sunday sermon and discuss it in terms of its application to their lives and how they “measure up” to the content. Still others enjoy a more open format in which group members can discuss whatever is on their minds and in which they can ask questions about all things they have always wanted to knowbut didn’t know who to ask. These particular groups have the feel of a religious town hall meeting, or religious talk radio.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about small groups is how well they lend themselves to evangelism. Thus, it is not surprising that a number of groups meet just so the members can have a place to invite their lost friends to! In these evangelistic groups they go around the room and every member tells how good God has been to them, problems solved, prayers answered, etc., in front of the unsaved visitors. The impact this has on unsaved people is powerful. A steady diet of meetings like these have proven to be an irresistible force to a vast number of unsaved people who have been saved in the home of a friend before they ever set foot in the church.
Many churches have been extremely successful in using small groups to disciple its members and to increase its attendance. One church in Korea grew to over a million members due to small groups! So many, many people have been blessed in a small group, they are now quite common throughout this country as well.
There are only three ingredients necessary to have a small group: a handful of interested people 5 to 7, no more than 12, a leader, and house in which to meet. That’s it!
The potential small groups offer for the growth of a church are limited only by the number of qualified leaders in that particular church. The Bible sets a number of requirements for leaders and these must be adhered to. However, everybody “lives” somewhere, and thus everyone is a potential host of a small group. Done right, small groups create a church without walls that can grow to the hundreds, even thousands, and can exist and function with very little cost and be presided over with almost no additions in professional staff.
Members as Ministers
Jesus Christ, . . . who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests (Revelation 1:5-6 NIV)
As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10)
The church is not a one man show. God never intended it to be, and no true church has successfully functioned as such, nor has it tried. Everyone in the church has a job to do, actually a calling from the Lord to answer, which is their true purpose in life. These verses are a solid foundation for our position that every member of the body of Christ has indeed been gifted for ministry, as Peter contends. This means that believers not only can perform ministry but that they are expected to do so as well.
A bit of exegesis of the Revelation passage cited above, is in order here: The translators working for King James, chose to interpret the word Greek basileianwith the English word kings. The actual meaning of this Greek word, however, is kingdom as we see the scholars for the NIV’s translation have correctly rendered it. Thus, the thrust of this passage is that Jesus Christ has placed believers into a kingdom, ostensibly His kingdom, and in His kingdom we are to function as priests, i.e., ministers. These verses do not mean that everyone has to become a full-time pastor of a church, but they do tell us that everyone can and should play a part in the ministry of the church. Whether it’s directing traffic in the parking lot, typing the newsletter, watering the plants, or teaching a Sunday School class, everyone has been supernaturally empowered to perform a ministry function. It is our responsibility as believers to discover the specific ministry to which we have been called, and for which we have been gifted. This is our unique privilege, to serve the Lord in a task for which we were created. There is no greater joy in life, and no more satisfying pursuit.
Building the Kingdom
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: (John 18:36)
Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; (Matthew 6:33)
Thy kingdom come. (Matthew 6:10)
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:13)
By definition, a kingdom is a place where there is a king who presides over loyal subjects. The kingdom of God is the place where God’s rule is in force. Thus, seeking the kingdom is to seek to bring oneself under the authority of God, to bring your life into obedience to Him and His will. When Jesus taught the disciples to pray Thy kingdom come He was instructing them to seek to have the rule of God come into their hearts. This same notion is also conveyed with the popular terminology Lordship of Christ. Billy Graham has often said if Jesus is not Lord of all, He’s not Lord at all! Evangelism, then, seeks to bring people under the Lordship of Christ.
The focus here at BFM is on populating the kingdom (in the sense that was described above) rather than building up the church’s membership. We know there have been unsaved people have “joined the church” and attended for years without being saved, i.e., without having entered the kingdom. We know that people like this exist, people who have joined the church but have never met Jesus Christ personally, because of their own testimonies! People have told of attending church for 20 years before they actually met Jesus Christ and experienced His salvation.
Granted, this particular distinction between kingdom membership and church membership is a slight distinction, but that in no way means that it is an unimportant distinction. Consequently, we here at GraceLife not only advocate kingdom membership, but a kingdom mentality as well. A kingdom mentality thinks in terms of what is best for the kingdom. For example, if several families “transfer their membership” from another church into ours, that is not necessarily a good thing as far as the kingdom is concerned. Our church may have grown considerably by this turn of events, but the kingdom of God has had no increase what so ever. Thus, it is a ministry focus of GLM to seek to usher people into the kingdom as opposed to merely having someone’s name on a church roll.
I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. (1 Corinthians 9:22)
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. 4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. 5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. 6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD. (Palms 150:3-6)
the Levites which were the singers, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:) 13 . . . [And] It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, [and they began] to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, . . . that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; 14 So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God. (2 Chronicles 5:12-14)
O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. (Ps 47:1)
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD. (Plams 134:2)
I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, (1 Timothy 2:8 NIV)
We at GraceLife value a variety of musical styles. We are interested playing all types of worship songs, even hymns. As you well know, lost people do not look for radio stations that play church hymns when they get in their car. In fact, they consider that kind of church music as something less than musical, at least it’s not the kind of “music” they would choose or seek to listen to. Therefore, since we are trying to reach lost people, and since we are trying to connect with them and let them know we are not weird or prudish (although many already have this notion) we want to provide music that is similar to what people listen to by choice.
We are intentionally trying to create an atmosphere in which people can make contact with the Lord. We want them to be touched by the Holy Spirit during the worship time, which is why we try to provide plenty of time for people to “enter” into an attitude of praise and worship.
Lastly, as a practical matter, most of our musicians are not formally trained musicians and reading music is not necessarily one of their strengths. Consequently, there are a vast number of hymns we could not play, even if we had to! So, we are going with our strengths as far the particular songs we worship with are concerned.
Authenticity, Character, Holiness, Righteousness
I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20)
All unrighteousness is sin: . . 18 . . . whosoever is born of God sinneth not; (I John 5:17-18)
do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, (Romans 6:12 NAS)
Put simply, authenticity is a must for everyone involved the ministry of the church. The church can not allow someone who has been divorced twenty times to become the Minister of Marriage and Family. We could never allow a pedophile to work with children. You get the picture, I am sure. We simply must ensure that the ministry of Christ is preformed by Christians, who do Christian things in a Christian way. The end never justifies the means. We do not break the rules to get people to obey them.
This does not mean that people who have sin in their past can never serve the Lord. Our position is simply that they must be truly be free of their past sins, with all the destructive consequences that sin inevitably produces, before they can fill a ministry position.
To some degree, the institutional integrity of the church is at issue here, but what is even more important is the impact we make as a church on lost people. The eternal destiny of peoples’ souls are directly effected by the genuineness of Christians (or lack there of) who represent the church. If people do not believe in the messenger, then they will not believe in the message. We have to be real to get people really saved.
Excellence in All Things
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV)
whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
ye shall be witnesses unto me. . . unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. (Mark 13:10 NIV)
And how can they preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10:15 NIV)
I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth. (Acts 13:47 NIV)
We believe that God blesses the church that blesses missionaries! Evangelism is truly the heartbeat of God and missionaries are on the front lines on virtually every frontier of evangelism, in virtually every country in the world that they can legally enter and even a few they can’t.
It is the carnal, and biblically illiterate person who says “We need to help people here in this country, so we don’t need to be sending our money overseas.” Such sentiments are clearly unscriptural and go against the instructions of our Lord to go into all the world and to be His witnesses to the uttermost parts of the earth.Therefore, it is indeed the church’s scriptural responsibility to support missions. If you can not go to the ends of the earth, you can at least help those who do. When everybody gives a little, it helps a lot!
Many pastors report a direct correlation between their church’s growth and financial strength and their missions giving.
Spiritual Growth & Development
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be (2 Peter 3:18)
Sanctify them [Christians] through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17)
Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: (Matthew 3:8)
[neither] thieves. . . the greedy. . . drunkards. . . slanderers. . . swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV)
But we all, . . . are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18 NAS)
It is the shepherd’s job to move the sheep around. The church has a responsibility to disciple all her members. This means facilitating the breaking of old habits, the “letting go” of old grudges and hatreds, and the taking on of new habits and attitudes towards others and life in general.
People should expect this. They should not get offended if they find themselves challenged to move forward in a particular area of their life by a sermon or by a brother or sister in the Lord. You would not want to go to a church that refuses to do its job would you?
You don’t want to receive biblical teaching that’s been so watered down just so it won’t hurt anybody’s feelings would you?
The bottom line of this section is simply that God loves you too much to allow you to stay exactly as you were prior to your salvation. God will never exempt you from spiritual growth. It is not ok with God for you to stay as you are. And it is the church’s job to obey God by teaching His people about the call and claims scripture places on the lives of believers. It is the church’s job to encourage people to grow spiritually, and to foster that process by helping believers take on the disciplines of Christ.
Balance in all Things
Don’t let the errors of evil people lead you down the wrong path and make you loose your balance. (2 Peter 3:17 CEV)
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8)
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11)
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:10)
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, (2 Peter 1:16)
discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; (1 Timothy 4:7 NAS)
As an individual believer, you want your life to be balanced. If you focus on maintaining a balance between five important categories of activities, you will be truly blessed in this life. The five categories are as follows: Worshiping God, Witnessing to the lost, Working in your calling (according to your spiritual gifts),Walking in fellowship with other Christians, Widening your knowledge of scripture.
As a church, we are dedicated to fostering and promoting this kind of balanced approach to the Christian life in our members. Also, it is important that all of the ministry programs and events we provide be done in a balanced manner as well. Getting caught up in the latest fads or trends in worship or doctrine, or jumping on the latest Church Growth bandwagon are temptations to which many churches have fallen prey. Obviously, we do not value following the latest fads.
Neither do we value putting all our eggs in one ministry basket. We don’t have all our hopes for ministry and church growth pinned on small groups to make us grow, we are not expecting our music program alone to bring people in, nor are we placing trust in our guest speakers to carry the day. Rather, we seek to offer a variety of ministries with an even amount of time and resources devoted to each.
This web page is a good example. It describes in detail the wide variety of things upon which the believer is to focus upon in order to live a healthy Christian life. Displaying it as we have is an example of our seeking to achieve a balanced approach to ministry.