The Grace of God
God's grace through Jesus Christ is our bedrock and power supply for ministry, both individually and as churches. His secure love enables us to be His conduit to love others without fear. Grace is a verb, an action that we take seriously and incorporate into our lives, as we love, serve, and forgive others. It is the freedom that God gives us in His "no strings attached" love for the Church, demonstrated on the cross, which we expend to take risks of faith for promoting His Kingdom around the world. If grace is not visible in our lives, then it's hard to say we believe in it. It is a real element in all that we do.
- We cherish the privilege of being entrusted with the gospel and recognize it as the foundation for all that we do in ministry.
- We also know unequivocally that our salvation is eternally secure and that nothing created, including ourselves, can separate us from Christ after salvation.
- We further acknowledge that God's grace allows us to do acts that would otherwise be impossible in and of ourselves. His grace empowers all believers to do His will, even when it seems improbable.
- Salvation is by grace and grace alone. No works that we perform, whether religious in nature such as baptism or communion, or secular acts of service to the poor or needy, gain any merit with a holy God. He saved us despite ourselves, not because of our effort.
- Grace will lead to works, and consequently fruit, in people's lives.
Commitment to God and His Word
Our ministries aspire for wholehearted devotion to God through prayer, studying, obeying, and teaching His Word as individuals. It is the basis for all of our core values. For decades we've strived for each and every person to know His Word intimately and to use it in daily applications in life. Having a "quiet time" as a personal habit of growth is a trademark of our churches and has made all the difference in individuals growing up in Christ and aspiring to lead and influence those around them. More than a value for us, it is the crux of our churches. It is this personal dedication to His Word that marks our congregations with a maturity that only God can give in the quiet times spent with Him on a regular basis.
- In addition to daily quiet times, we also value extended times alone with God for the sake of personal encouragement, reflection, and spiritual nourishment. These may be a day or more, as the Spirit leads.
- As a movement of churches, we've discovered that true spiritual maturity has little to do with how long someone has been a Christian. True maturity comes from obedience to what God has revealed personally to that individual and how they step up in obedience to it, regardless of their age or station.
- We see the Bible as the instruction manual for life. That is, it is God's revealed communication for matters of doctrine, our personal lives, raising families, behavior in the workplace, and all ministry.
- Obedience to God's Word is crucial to effectiveness in ministry and implies a deep respect of Scripture's authority. Without such an attitude of humility, His Word becomes head knowledge, and eventually leads to pride.
- God's primary mode of communication is the Bible and our response to Him is through prayer. We view prayer as the prime ingredient for success in the church, in our families, and individually. It is simply talking with Him, but it is also much more than that.
All Nations Reached With The Gospel
As our name implies, this is our heartbeat—to reach the entire world with the gospel of Jesus Christ and to make disciples who will reproduce themselves to continue the cycle of relational evangelism. It is why we exist and not something we just like to talk about. This is what we are about, from high schools, to college campuses, to community churches, and ultimately overseas. Fulfilling the marching orders of the Church, to "Go therefore and make disciples" as Jesus commanded, is predicated on evangelism that results in genuine disciples who will lead and plant churches worldwide. Without this vision, the New Testament makes little sense, but with it as our mission, the Book becomes alive with purpose. And with that, so do the relationships within our churches.
- To be most effective, it is vital that we are "culturally relevant" to those we are trying to reach with the gospel. Therefore, our ministry adapts differently to American needs in comparison to methods in a foreign country. Each culture necessitates becoming "all things to all men" to "win the most."
- Our mission is to fulfill the Great Commission. Period. That will be accomplished by planting thousands of churches. If evangelism and discipleship are the oil on the gears, then new churchplants are the machines.
- This "world vision" is important for each individual to grasp and hold as a conviction if we are to succeed in accomplishing the Great Commission. It is not just enough to reach out to your neighbor. We must become part of a team, focused on His mission, in order to maximize our impact globally.
- We see a pattern of world evangelization in the book of Acts that is summarized in chapter one, verse eight. This principle of a concentric spread of the gospel germinating from their city, to their country, and to their world is our paragon of ministry.
- Our church members take to heart Paul's words when he said that he "did all things for the sake of the gospel" and consider how their life decisions regarding family, moves, career opportunities, etc. may affect their success in reaching the world. It is a mindset, not a mandate.
- We have always valued the "next generation" and have focused our efforts on reaching youth because of their strategic value in reaching the world. They are more willing to take risks of faith, have less to lose, longer lives to give to His service, and more willing to learn.
The local church is God's primary vehicle for accomplishing the Great Commission—win people to Christ, build them to maturity, raise up leaders with character, and prepare church planting teams to expand His kingdom. Our churches are independent and autonomous, but our emphasis on continuing vibrant relationships, especially with hundreds of fellow pastors as true brothers, has resulted in a voluntary interdependence that strengthens our movement from top to bottom. We see the Church universal as a real family and each local church as an extension of that larger family. Conferences and conventions become a family reunion of men and women who are united by His blood in ways that make natural family gatherings pale. This love and devotion to each other, for the purpose of the gospel going forth, creates a relational bond that is supernatural.
- We believe that Jesus Christ is the literal head of each local church and that each local church has final authority over its affairs.
- We value partnership of local churches with, being accountable to, and uniting together with "church ministry teams," such as Great Commission Community and GCM, for magnified success. Church independence is important, but its effectiveness is limited.
- Although we hold that the church is the primary vehicle to reach the world, we realize that God also uses ministries as well. The purpose of our church ministry teams is to partner with churches in order to strengthen and multiply more of them.
- Within the local church, "small groups" take on a premier role as a mini-church in fostering individual's relationships of growth through friendships, Bible study, accountability, and outreach.
- As an example to the world, the church must maintain high standards of integrity and holiness. In that regard, it is sometimes necessary, though painful, to exercise church discipline for individuals who are unrepentant of known sin.
Raising up pastors and leaders who serve with Christ-like character through the local church is our hallmark. The New Testament model—a plurality of pastors discipling men through "on hands" ministry—marks our pastoral team in each church. This method of developing pastors is primary to our goal of spreading the gospel and opens up leadership in the church to every man in our association of churches no matter what his station in life because the qualifications are character-based in 1 Timothy and Titus. Additional schooling through seminaries is also available and desirable, but pastors are appointed by their character and lives, not by a degree. The real issue has always been serving the saints and proven character, which we believe is accomplished through mentoring in actual ministry.
- Recognizing Christ as the head of the church, we further recognize that He has appointed certain men of character to be spiritual elders, or pastors, in the local church. These men have the final authority in their church's affairs and decisions.
- We consider a plurality of leadership, more than one pastor in a church, to be the biblical norm in the New Testament and strive toward that goal of multiple leaders for greater wisdom, protection, accountability, and giftedness for the body.
- In plurality, the community of elders have equal authority amongst themselves and do not defer to a senior pastor. They are peers who value and esteem one another as fellow elders. There may be some deference to one another's experience or wisdom, but there is no hierarchy of authority. Humility rules supreme.
- We have always valued a man's character, and meeting the requirements of the New Testament for elders, as the primary credential for leadership in the church. Knowledge and skills can be learned, but God forges character in life's furnace.
- We also feel that the church is the best location and training ground to raise up elders as they serve and love the saints of God through actual ministry.
- We use the terms "pastor" and "elder" interchangeably since Scripture equates them as the same office, but God may give different gifts to different elders as He sees fit for the church's functions.
- We value and esteem women in the church and encourage their leadership in various roles, but in accordance with the New Testament, we reserve the office of elder for men alone.
Oneness (Love & Unity)With Jesus as our paragon, we want to reflect a selfless love, loyalty, and unity with fellow believers that refreshes Christendom and makes unbelievers shake their head with wonder. This is not a matter of theology, but of practice. Thirty years of ministering for the same purpose creates a bond that is reminiscent of the First Century Church and means more to us than words can express. Unity is the premier factor in our success as a ministry and it is not a point of doctrine, but an action of love among men and women who have struggled together for a global purpose over many years. It is a real and visible emotion that binds us to one another for the sake of the gospel and has to be seen rather than written about.
- We strongly revere the "doctrine of love and unity" within all of Christendom. God desires unity between believers as a first priority and we strive to maintain a unity with every believer to the extreme, both within and without our association of churches.
- God has made clear the importance He places on the unity of believers and churches. We highly value unity within GCAC churches, between GCAC churches regionally, between church ministry teams in GCAC, and between GCAC and the rest of Christianity.
- Major on the majors, and minor on the minors. We purposefully avoid making an issue of disputable areas of doctrine, like pre-Tribulation vs. post-Tribulation, for the sake of the greater goal of accomplishing the global mission and promoting unity to work together in the gospel more effectively. God has left some issues open to discussion, but He has made the major issues clear. We have a dying world's antidote. Arguing about the ingredients is folly.
- Recognizing that we value unity with all other churches and organizations, some natural alignments are more likely with those who share our values and common beliefs. For example, those who are charismatic may become dear personal friends, but in shared practical ministry events our involvement might be negligible.
Raising Godly Families
For over 30 years, strong families have meant strong churches. Our priority to equip members to build their marriages and families is, we believe, paramount to reaching the world with the gospel. Our families are our true disciples. If our individual family is healthy, then our churches will be healthy too. We take parenting very seriously and want our children to be offensive weapons for the gospel as "arrows in the hand of a warrior." Pastors set the pace in any church and their families are the ultimate model of what a family, and a church, is to be like. This example trickles down to every other family in a church and we want that trickle to be a river of life by the time it flows out the doors of our fellowships.
- We esteem the traditional roles in the family of the father as the head of the household and his wife supporting her husband wholeheartedly. However, both mutually submit to another, in following Christ's supreme example, as Ephesians chapter five mandates.
- In accordance with the Bible, we consider homosexuality to be unnatural and an obvious sin, as is adultery, fornication, etc.
- We recognize that God hates divorce and wants couples to stay married, although He permits it as an option in two instances—marital infidelity or if an unbeliever leaves a believing spouse.
- Although ministry is important, we hold that one's home life takes precedent over all ministry. If needs arise within a marriage or family, ministry at every level becomes secondary.
- Each parent is responsible for their children's upbringing in matters of spirituality, academics, and personal training. In saying this, we realize parents may choose to use other people or institutions to facilitate that training (public schools, tutors, Christian education, etc.).
Every Member A Minister
All Christians are empowered through the Holy Spirit to be workers in the church, not just the pastors. This mentality sets us apart in that pastors empower and train their flock. We value each member and equip him or her to utilize their spiritual gifts to serve others and in the process everyone grows deeper. We realize that reaching the world will not be accomplished without empowering everyone and helping him or her to mature. Our desire is to see every believer develop spiritually just as a child grows up physically. We think the Lord wants all of His children to mature and serve, and many to become leaders and hopefully pastors. In order to fulfill His mission of world evangelization, churches must be planted and led by men of character who have been proven to be pastors according to 1 Timothy and Titus. We want everyone to be involved in ministry in some capacity in furthering the church's influence. This paradigm is essential to successfully reaching the world.
- In view of this life-long mission, it is imperative that each member discovers their God-given spiritual gifts and utilizes them within the church's service to one another.
- God wants all believers to be equipped with certain basic spiritual disciplines like quiet times, serving in the church, sharing the Word with believers, and sharing the gospel with unbelievers.
- We also believe in the "priesthood of all believers," as mentioned in 1 Peter.
- The pastors have the precious responsibility to train and equip the saints in ministry, but not to actually do all of the ministry. As Paul says in Ephesians chapter four, all members are considered workers and pastors are to model and equip the saints to multiply their effect.
- All ministry is in vain without the help, and our reliance upon, the Holy Spirit. He is our source of power in the church and the believer. He is our Helper in all matters of faith, service, and direction.
- We hold a traditional view of Acts chapter two and the gift of tongues. It was a special miracle that corroborated the message of the gospel, allowing untrained people to speak a known, earthly language that they had not previously been able to speak, in order to witness. This miraculous ability was never a sign of special anointing for ministry.