An Overview of Christ Church’s Approach to Ministry and Practices
Christ Church’s Statement of Faith and By-Laws are not vastly different from that of most other Bible-believing churches. And because of that similarity, many of our practices are like those of other Bible-believing churches. However, our approach to ministry in a few respects is a little different, which leads us to a few practices that may be a bit different from some churches of similar faith.
We provide this overview of our approach to ministry and our practices in a conversational, question/answer format, for the benefit of visitors and those considering becoming a part of Christ’s Church so that you can see what we do and why, with an emphasis on some of our practices that may be a little different. This overview supplements our Statement of Faith and By-Laws. This overview does not address all we do, nor is it a detailed explanation of our approach to ministry and practices. Instead, it is a summary.
We ask you to keep in mind four important points as you read this overview. First, we are not saying that our approach to ministry and our practices are the only way! That would be an incredibly arrogant attitude. To the contrary, we believe the Scriptures allow for a good deal of liberty among churches on many matters of practice. Second, we are not suggesting that our practices are unique. There are other churches with similar beliefs who follow many of the same practices as Christ’s Church. Third, this overview is not intended as a critique of other churches. As we explain why we follow (or choose not to follow) certain practices, we are not necessarily suggesting other churches are wrong if they differ from us. Rather, in many instances we have decided that certain practices are just not a good “fit” for us. What might work well for one church might not work well for another church for a lot of reasons. And fourth, we are constantly seeking to examine our practices in the light of Scripture. We will not hesitate to modify (or abolish!) any of our practices if we determine that we are acting contrary to Scripture or if we learn better ways to put Scripture into practice.
What is Christ Church’s general approach to ministry?
Our overarching approach is obedience to God’s Word. We want to do what the Bible says! We believe that everything we do must begin with and be sourced in God’s Word. Apart from the Bible we have nothing to say or do. Submission to and dependence upon the Scriptures are the cornerstone of our approach to ministry.
Another key part of our approach to ministry is “simplicity”. The early church was devoted to the apostles’ teaching, prayer, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and evangelism. We have sought to model that same simplicity in a culturally relevant manner, as illustrated throughout this overview. At the same time, our “simple” approach to ministry should not be misunderstood to mean “easy” or “casual.” To the contrary, we are quite serious and intentional about cultivating personal and corporate holiness, discipleship, and equipping our members to do the work of the ministry. We pursue these goals through various ways, such as times of fellowship and prayer, celebration of communion, corporate and small group teaching, and loving oversight and counseling by leadership.
What is Christ’s Church’s approach to the Bible?
As set forth in our Statement of Faith, our basic approach to interpreting the Bible is the grammatical-historical method, rooted in our believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. This means that we interpret the Bible according to normal grammatical rules, taking into consideration what was going on culturally and in the lives of the human writer and readers at the time of writing. We want to understand what the writer meant and what the readers understood. Stated another way, we interpret the Bible plainly in its literary and historical context. While this usually will result in a literal interpretation, a plain reading of a text may include figures of speech that require a non-literal, figurative interpretation. We seek to apply the grammatical-historical approach consistently to all of Scripture, including “last things” (eschatology). We also believe in comparing Scripture with Scripture, allowing the Bible to be its own interpreter.
Because of our high view of Scripture, we do not pluck out solitary passages from the Bible and build doctrines out of them; instead, we seek the whole counsel of God on a given subject. While we believe that there can be many applications of a text of Scripture, there is only one right interpretation. That interpretation should be derived from careful study, in dependence on the Holy Spirit through prayer.
Our approach to interpretation affects our approach to teaching and preaching. We focus on exegesis (explaining what the writer intended) rather than eisegesis (reading our own biases and prejudices into the text). As a result, we boldly proclaim "thus says the Lord."
What is Christ’s Church’s approach to membership?
“Membership” as practiced in many churches does not appear to have a direct precedent in the New Testament, but rather is largely derived from certain legal requirements. Nevertheless, we believe there is value in believers officially joining a local assembly, such as Christ’s Church. Local church membership is a means by which the boundaries of a church are defined. It is a good and necessary result of God’s desire to keep a clear distinction between His own chosen people and the rebellious world system which surrounds them. With membership in a local church body, there is a mutual commitment between the members and church leadership.
The leaders of Christ’s Church are tasked with shepherding the flock and will give an account to God for how we care for the souls of believers. Membership, therefore, allows us to be certain of which souls we are responsible for. And in becoming a member of Christ’s Church, believers are making a public declaration that they are committed to this local assembly. This is a commitment to attend services regularly, to pray for one another,  to exercise spiritual gifts and practice the many “one another” texts for the edification of the body, to participate in and celebrate the ordinances of baptism and communion, to give sacrificially, and to humbly submitting to the leadership.  Through membership in the body of Christ, believers not only come alongside fellow Christians but demonstrate their lasting commitment to Christ as Head of the church. Therefore, we emphasize the importance of formal membership at Christ’s Church. The membership process is outlined in Christ’s Church’s By-Laws.
Why does Christ’s Church’s order of service vary from time to time?
Because God is a God of order, we believe that our services should be orderly and without chaos. However, we also want to avoid a rote order of service and want to be open to the Holy Spirit should He wish to vary that order. As a result, Christ Church’s leadership seeks God’s will each week as to the order of service. While our services normally follow a standard order, we sometimes have Communion at the end of the service, at other times near the beginning of the service. One week we may sing three songs, other weeks we may sing more (or less). We believe that this approach helps to bring a freshness and sense of anticipation to our services.
Why does Christ’s Church have few programs and extracurricular ministries?
We define a “program” as an identified, targeted ministry approved by church leadership and sponsored by the church. Programs may have their place in certain contexts. However, we have chosen to have very few programs. To a large degree, our desire to maintain a simple approach to ministry causes us to limit the number of programs we offer. We would rather do fewer things well. We especially want to avoid a multiplicity of programs that compete with family time and other worthwhile ministries and can lead to burnout. Another reason is that programs do not necessarily guarantee or foster spiritual maturity. Also, we have observed the tendency of programs to become institutionalized and take on a life of their own, even after they have lost their usefulness. The result too often is that people are “guilted” into serving roles in programs that they have no heart for and may not even be equipped for.
In short, we prefer that members exercise their gifts and to practice the “one another” texts of Scripture through voluntary, intentional relationships rather than through a complicated program structure. At the same time, we are completely in favor of voluntary, specialized programs (such as parenting classes, new members classes, evangelism classes, etc.) that are not open-ended.
What is Christ Church’s approach to music?
We value music as a way of worshipping God. In our experience, however, music can be a very divisive subject.
We do not see a particular style of music mandated in the Bible. In fact, it is highly likely that the music of the first century church would not be acceptable in many churches today! Therefore, there is a considerable amount of stylistic variation that is acceptable. The only specific criteria we find in the Bible are that the lyrics must be consistent with Scripture and the style (volume, tempo, etc.) must be reverent and not overshadow the lyrics so that the message is lost or diminished and can be adequately processed by the mind. Stated another way, the words must be biblical, and the music must enhance the message and not take precedence over it. Based on this approach, we seek to preserve the rich legacy of hymnody that has come down to us over many centuries, while at the same time incorporating worthy contemporary music.
We are not opposed to choirs. Israel had choirs and there will be choral groups in heaven. In our experience, however, institutional choirs can sometimes take on a life of their own and drain time and resources from other aspects of ministry. Consequently, we have chosen not to have an organized choir. However, we welcome occasional solos, ensembles and small choirs as the Lord directs.
Why does Christ’s Church not pass an offering plate?
We recognize that many view the passing of the offering plate as a collective act of worship, and we respect that view. Our concern, however, is that those who are poor may suffer embarrassment from having nothing to contribute when the plate is passed. Therefore, we have chosen to simply have a box where offerings can be dropped at any time, with some measure of anonymity. Another reason we do not pass a plate is that technology permits on-line contributions, which many prefer. Finally, we do not pass a plate because of our belief that giving should be cheerful and not under compulsion. Our approach fosters this “grace giving” philosophy and helps avoid the misimpression that we are overemphasizing money.
Why does Christ’s Church celebrate communion every Sunday?
The Bible does not dictate how often communion (also known as the “Lord’s Table” or “Lord’s Supper”) is to be celebrated. So, we see much liberty here to decide how often to celebrate. We have chosen to celebrate weekly. The Lord's Table is a participation (koinonia) in the body and blood of Christ and therefore a time of intimate fellowship with the living Savior. It is a tangible remembrance of the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ in our place), and a definite anticipation of the blessed hope of his return. It is a call for serious self-examination leading to repentance, all of which is done in community with brothers and sisters in Christ binding us more closely as family). Because it is a time of self-examination, a weekly celebration forces us to deal with sin sooner rather than later. For these reasons we believe it most beneficial for Christ’s Church to partake in this ordinance every Sunday. For those who might think this could lead to rote habit, we seek to celebrate communion in fresh ways, even varying occasionally when it is celebrated during our services, to minimize this risk.
Why does Christ’s Church have no children and youth ministries?
We recognize that good and godly men disagree here. For our part, we find in Scripture precedents throughout biblical history of families remaining together for public worship, including infants and small children. Notably, Paul understood that his letter to the Ephesians would be read publicly to the assembly, and we find him giving instructions in that letter directly to the children – indicating they were present in the service. We also see express commands for parents (and especially fathers) to instruct their children in the Scriptures. We believe the burden is primarily on parents to evangelize and teach their own children, with a sense of urgency. Therefore, we have decided against having programs that separate families for instruction in Scripture and have decided against the church providing direct instruction to children. Instead, we focus on training and encouraging parents (especially fathers) to instruct their own children in the Scriptures. Additionally, such ministries would add a level of complexity to our ministry that we are trying to avoid.
Due to the small size of our assembly at present, we don't have a nursery, but we are more than happy to address special circumstances on a case-by-case basis.
What is Christ Church’s approach to spiritual gifts, including the gifts of tongues, healing, and miracles?
We value spiritual gifts as granted by the Lord to enable believers to minister to one another as well as to unbelievers. The Bible lists a number of crucial spiritual gifts, including teaching, evangelism, giving, helping, and encouraging. We devote much time and effort helping believers identify their gifting and encouraging the active use of that gifting.
Nevertheless, we do not believe that all of the spiritual gifts that were present in the early church are given by the Lord today. The gift of tongues was a divinely bestowed supernatural ability to speak in a human language that had not been learned by the one speaking. According to the Apostle Paul, when believers exercised the gift of tongues in church, they were to speak one at a time, and only two or three were to speak in a given service. Furthermore, when tongues were spoken in the church, they were to be interpreted by someone with the gift of interpretation so that the others might be edified by the God-given message. In this way, tongues did not serve as a private prayer language, but rather—like all spiritual gifts—as a means by which one might serve and edify the body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 13:8 Paul made an interesting, almost startling, statement: “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.” In the expression “love never fails,” the Greek word translated “fails” means “to decay” or “to be abolished.” Paul was not saying that love is invincible or that it cannot be rejected. He was saying that love is eternal—that it will be applicable forever and will never be old news. Tongues, however, “will cease.” The Greek verb used in 1 Corinthians 13:8 means “to cease permanently,” and implies that when tongues ceased, they would never start up again. Founded in these truths we believe that the gift of tongues is not for today.
Other miraculous gifts – such as healing – also seem to have been limited in time and scope. For example, Paul (who had the gift of healing) left Trophimus sick at Miletus. It would be very unloving of Paul to not heal him if the gift was always to be exercised!
Our view of the New Testament is that the gift of tongues, healing, and the like were for the purpose of authenticating the Christian message in its infancy and to allow for its rapid spread. Once the message had been thoroughly authenticated, such gifts were not needed. Therefore, we believe such gifts have ceased and are not for today.
What is Christ Church’s view of the role of women in the church?
From the very beginning, women fulfilled a vital role in the Christian church, but not one of leadership. The apostles were all men; the chief missionary activity was done by men; the writing of the New Testament was the work of men; and leadership in the churches was entrusted to men. Although the Apostle Paul respected women and worked side by side with them for the furtherance of the gospel, he appointed no female elders or pastors. In his letters, he urged that men were to be the leaders in the church and that women were not to teach or exercise authority over men. Therefore, although women are spiritual equals with men and the ministry of women is essential to the body of Christ, women are excluded from leadership over men in the church. Men and women stand as equals before God, both bearing the image of God Himself. However, without making one inferior to the other, God calls upon both men and women to fulfill the roles and responsibilities specifically designed for them, a pattern that can be seen even in the Godhead. In fulfilling the divinely given roles taught in the New Testament, women are able to realize their full potential because they are following the plan of their own Creator and Designer. Only in obedience to Him and His design will women truly be able, in the fullest sense, to give glory to God.
What is Christ Church’s approach to church discipline?
On occasion a Christian will wander away from the fellowship of other believers and find himself ensnared by sin through ignorance or willful disobedience. It then becomes necessary for the church, and particularly its shepherds, to actively seek the repentance and restoration of that Christian.
One means by which the church seeks to lovingly restore wandering believers is the process of church discipline. The process outlined in Scripture is set forth in our By-Laws.
Church discipline is not to be used to address personal preferences or minor grievances. It is reserved for serious sins between members and open and notorious sin that could damage Christ’s reputation in the eyes of the world. The purpose of church discipline is the spiritual restoration of fallen members and the consequent strengthening of the church and glorifying of the Lord. When a sinning believer is rebuked and he turns from his sin and is forgiven, he is won back to fellowship with the body and with its head, Jesus Christ.
The goal of church discipline, then, is not to throw people out of the church or to feed the self-righteous pride of those who administer the discipline. It is not to embarrass people or to exercise authority and power in some unbiblical manner. The purpose is to restore a sinning believer to holiness and bring him back into a pure relationship within the assembly.
What is Christ Church’s view of church government?
We understand from Scripture that the local church is to be led by a plurality of males variously referred to in Scripture as “Elders,” “Overseers”, and “Pastors.” We understand that these terms all describe different facets of the same office. “Elder” refers to the man’s maturity. “Overseer” refers to the man’s role in supervising the affairs of the assembly. “Pastor” emphasizes the function of leading, feeding from the Scriptures, and protecting from false doctrine. For simplicity, we use the term “Elder-Pastor” or “Elder” to refer to this office. Our Elder-Pastors must meet the qualifications set forth in Scripture. Our approach to selecting Elder-Pastors is set forth in the By-Laws. Our Board of Elder-Pastors are self-perpetuating, and the interpretation and application of the foregoing Scripture verses rests with the Board. All of our Elder-Pastors are equal in authority and function; nevertheless, at a given point in time one or more of our Elder-Pastors may devote themselves full time to the office and be fully supported. We also believe that God has ordained a group of males known as Deacons who provide practical service ministry for our assembly. These men must meet the requirements in I Tim. 3:8-13.
What does Christ’s Church believe about political activism?
We believe our primary task is the Great Commission of Matthew 28 – leading people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and then training them in the Christian faith. We do not believe that our charge is to reform the world system. At the same time, we recognize that Christians are “salt and light”, acting as a moral preservative and beacon of truth. We also recognize that we in the United States have been given the rare (but blessed) stewardship of having a voice in the enactment of godly laws and the opposition of ungodly laws. We, therefore, encourage members of Christ’s Church to vote their consciences before God and we respect the right of members to pursue certain political causes if they are led to do so by the Lord. As a church, however, we do not want to detract from our primary mission by organized political activity. Consequently, while we will preach and teach whatever the Bible says about politics and government, we do not focus on organized political activity.
 John 15:5; Psalm 73:26; John 6:63.
 Acts 2:42; Acts 13:2-3; Matthew 28:16-20; Act 1:8.
 Leviticus 11:44-45; Leviticus 19:2; Leviticus 20:7; 1 Peter 1:16; 2 Corinthians 6:17.
 Matthew 28:16-20; Ephesians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 12:7.
 Gen. 1-11; Ex. 19-20; Rom. 16; Eph. 1-3
 Psalm 119:18; 1 John 2:27.
 Acts 2:42; 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:2.
 Hebrews 10:24-25.
 Acts 2:42; Hebrews 4:16.
 1 John 3:11; John 13:34; Romans 13:8; 1 Peter 1:22 Galatians 6:2 Mark 9:50 Romans 15:7 Ephesians 4:25; Galatians 5:13; John 6:43; 1 Thessalonians 4:18; Philippians 2:3; Romans 12:6; 15:5; Ephesians 5:21; Colossians 3:9; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 10:24; 1 Peter 5:5; Romans 12:16; James 5:16; James 4:11; 5:9; 1 Peter 4:9; Galatians 5:26; Romans 12:10; John 13:14; Galatians 5:13; Romans 12:10; James 5:16; John 25:17; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 4:9; 1 John 4:7, 11; 2 John 5; 1 Peter 5:5.
 Ephesians 4:11-16.
 Matthew 26:26-30; 1 Corinthians 10:16-21; 11:17-34; Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 6:1-10.
 1 Corinthians 16:2; Philippians 4:15-19.
 Acts 2:42; Acts 20:29-30; 1 Corinthians 5:1-12; Acts 6:1-6; Romans 16:1-16; Timothy 5:3-16; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1-5.
 1 Cor. 14:40.
 1 Cor. 14:15.
 Ps. 4:1 and Neh. 12:31 and 40, just to name a few.
 Rev. 14:3.
 2 Cor. 9:6-8.
 1 Cor. 10:6.
 Luke 22:19.
 Matt 26:29; 1 Cor 11:26.
 1 Cor 10:17-18.
 See, e.g., Deut. 31:12; 2 Chron. 20:13; Ezra 8:1-3; Joel 2:16.
 As an example of this, see Col. 4:16.
 Eph. 6:1-3.
 Gen. 18:19; Exo. 13:14; Deut. 6:1-25; Ps. 78.
 1 Cor. 12-14; Eph. 4; 1 Pet. 5.
 1 Cor. 14:27.
 1 Cor. 14:5, 13, 27.
 1 Cor. 12:7; 1 Pet. 4:10.
 2 Tim. 4:20.
 Acts 1:12–14; 9:36–42; 16:13–15; 17:1–4, 10–12; 18:1–2, 18, 24–28; Rom. 16; 1 Cor. 16:19; 2 Tim. 1:5; 4:19.
 Rom. 16; Phil. 4:3.
 1 Tim. 2:12.
 1 Cor. 11:3.
 Matt. 18:15.
 1 Cor. 5.
 Acts 20:17-38; I Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9; and I Peter 5:1-4
 Matthew 5:13-16.