We believe in the universal church, a living spiritual body of which Christ is the head, and all born–again persons are members. We believe local churches are the visible expression of the universal church on earth. The local church is an autonomous congregation of baptized believers, who covenant themselves together under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The congregation is to gather regularly for God-centered worship, be committed to the teachings of the Bible, exercise gifts for the work of service, and enjoy common fellowship and unity in the Holy Spirit. Every church member has the responsibility to give faithfully of his time, talents, and material possessions to support the mission and ministries of the church. The church is to obey the Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples from all nations and to multiply churches all over the earth. (Matthew 18:15–17; 28:16–20; John 20:21–23; 2 Corinthians 8–9; Galatians 6:1–2; Philippians 4:10–19; 1 Timothy 3:1–12)
There are two ordinances instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ for the local church to regularly celebrate—Believer’s Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Baptism is the immersion of a confessing believer in water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, signifying a believer’s death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ. Water baptism is an act of obedience to Christ’s command and a commitment to live in light of his Lordship. It also serves as an entry into the local church.
The Lord’s Supper is a regular, congregational act of worship, instituted by Jesus Christ to take a portion of bread and receive the cup as symbols of the Lord’s sacrificial death for his people on the cross. The Lord’s Supper allows the local church to confess sin, seek purity, display unity, center itself upon the cross of Christ, and anticipate the Lord’s glorious return. Self–discipline is encouraged during the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Church discipline may be enacted during the Lord’s Supper. If so, it will be conducted according to scriptural principles under the oversight of the pastors. (Matthew 4:16,17; 18:15–20; Mark 14:22–25; Acts 2:38; Romans 10:8–10; 1 Corinthians 11:23–34).
There are two scriptural offices in the local church: Pastor and Deacon. The pastors are charged with overall spiritual responsibility, managing oversight, and leadership of the local church before God. The pastors are responsible for teaching the scriptures, and to interpret and enforce the church’s statement of faith. Pastors serve as under-shepherds of Christ. Deacons are chosen from the congregation and are to function as servants to the church, assisting the pastors in caring for church members and church ministries. (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1–13; 1 Peter 5:1–3)