GLORY OF GOD FOCUSED
The glory of God is everything! The centerpiece of the universe for time and eternity is for God to be seen and praised for His matchless perfections! For all eternity, those in hell will bring Him glory as they suffer eternal wrath under His perfect justice (Revelation 15:1-4). Those in heaven will bring Him glory as they inherit paradise as trophies of perfect grace. Every individual Christian and every local church family must have a continual, intentional, and passionate focus on the glory of God! (1 Corinthians 10:31, Ephesians 3:21)
God is most glorified through the Person and work of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. By His unrivaled character and work (merit), He has redeemed for Himself a people (the Church). As His church, we strive above all things to know Him, love Him, praise Him, and serve Him. It is by, through, and for Him that we exist. It is our goal to keep Him the honored center of all that we say and do! “In all things He must have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:18)
LOCAL CHURCH CENTERED
We believe that meaningful and enduring fellowship in a local congregation is absolutely essential to the Christian’s life and ministry. Media ministries can never take the place of the local church and its ministers. We are committed not only to congregate, but to do so for the purpose of encouraging one another and stimulating one another to love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
BIBLE SATURATED/THOROUGHLY BIBLICAL
It is our desire to be thoroughly biblical in the totality of our lives. Our purpose, our methods, and our goals must be from sound, biblical teaching. We reject the modern concept that biblical goals can be achieved by man-centered, man-empowered methods. Our theology must dictate our methodology.
EXPOSITORY BIBLE PREACHING
The hub of the wheel of God’s church is the preaching of the word of God in the power of the Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-4:2). The preacher must strive to be thoroughly biblical. He must avoid the temptation of misusing Scripture to support a man-centered or culturally relevant message. The biblical text should be preached exegetically in its historical and grammatical context, giving application for today’s world. The pulpit is indispensable to the church’s growth in knowledge, holiness, and love. It cannot and should not be replaced or diminished. (2 Timothy 3:16-4:2)
The music department strives to lead the church family to glorify God and to edify one another through singing and musical instruments, ministering with spiritual passion and doctrinal integrity, while maintaining high standards of musical excellence. The worship is to reinforce the faith through song and to express congregational praise and worship to Christ, our Audience. We are sovereign grace in doctrine, Baptist in polity, and affectionate in worship.
BIBLICAL CONVERSION AND ASSURANCE
A biblical understanding of regeneration and conversion has been lost by the modern church. Salvation requires hearing the Gospel accompanied by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-8; Ephesians 2:5). This supernatural work, called regeneration, produces repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:20-21). The truly saved person perseveres in faithfulness (Philippians 1:6; Matthew 7:16-20). This perseverance is the basis of assurance. The man who walks in a continual state of carnality with no divine discipline can have no assurance of sonship (Hebrews 12:8), no matter how adamantly he professes his allegiance to Christ.
It is the duty of every believer to evangelize the lost. We adamantly stand against cold, unevangelistic hyper-Calvinism on the one hand and “hoop-jumping” easy believism on the other. We are committed to preach the Gospel to every creature and to implore ALL men to repent and believe. We believe that whoever believes in Christ will be saved. At the same time, we recognize that neither repentance nor faith can be produced by manipulating the emotion or coercing the will. They are the result of the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. (Deuteronomy 4:1,5,9,14; 6:1-10; 31:12-13; Nehemiah 8:1-8; Job 28:28; Psalm 19:7ff.; 119:11; Proverbs 3:13ff.; 4:1-10; 8:1-7,11; 15:14; Ecclesiastes 7:19; Matthew 5:2; 7:24ff.; 28:19-20; Luke 2:40; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Ephesians 4:11-16; Philippians 4:8; Colossians 2:3, 8-9; 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:14-17; Hebrews 5:12-6:3; James 1:5; 3:17)
A New Testament church is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers. Church government or leadership is congregational in context. Therefore, the final word in matters pertaining to the congregation must come from the congregation itself. The congregation must be committed to the Lordship of Christ under the full authority of Scripture. (Matthew 18:15-17, Acts 6:2-5, 1 Corinthians 5:4-5, 2 Corinthians 2:6, 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
The church has a body of elders/pastors who teach and shepherd the flock. In accordance with Hebrews 13:17, they keep watch over the congregation as men who must give an account to God. According to the same text, the congregation is to obey them and submit to their authority so that their work will be a joy and not a burden. The elders must meet the qualifications set forth in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and they exercise authority over the church only to the degree that they teach and lead according to the Scriptures.
According to the teachings of Jesus, the life of every Christian is to be marked by service (Mark 9:35). However, the New Testament also speaks of the specific office of deacon. The word deacon (gk: diakonos) denotes a helper or servant who serves (gk: diakoneo). Before a man may be appointed as a deacon, he must be tested for the qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. The tasks of a deacon are primarily that of meeting the physical and material needs of individual believers and the congregation as a whole. If the deacon serves faithfully, he obtains for himself a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus (I Timothy 3:13).
EVERY MEMBER MINISTRY
Every Christian in the local congregation without exception has been given spiritual gifts, which they are commanded to employ for the edification of the entire congregation. The administration of such gifts by every member is necessary for the proper growth and ministry of the church.
SMALL GROUP MINISTRY
One of the greatest outlets for every member ministry is our Small Group ministry. Such fellowships are employed to evangelize the lost, equip the saved, and minister to the individual needs in the body. Christianity is not a spectator sport.
The purpose of Grace Life Church is to glorify God by obediently making and equipping disciples of Christ, in the Shoals and throughout the world, by the power of the Spirit. The primary means employed to disciple believers are expository preaching, Small Group interaction, accountability, and personal one-on-one discipleship.
COMPASSIONATE CHURCH DISCIPLINE
Although church discipline is a foundational doctrine in Baptist history, it is now almost non-existent among “contemporary” Baptists. This forgotten and often misunderstood Bible doctrine is still practiced at Grace Life Church. We believe that if we truly seek to honor God, and if we truly care for the well being of His people, we will obey Christ’s commands to practice church discipline. When practiced biblically and compassionately, it is a powerful tool to restore the fallen and to preserve Christ’s honor in the church and the unbelieving world.
PARENT-DRIVEN CHILDREN’S MINISTRY
Parents are primarily responsible for the discipleship and discipline of their children. The church should not usurp the authority of godly parents, nor assume the responsibilities of parents who are lax in their duties. The church should give itself to teaching the biblical principles of parenthood and to holding parents accountable to carry them out in the context of families. While we have an active program for children, it should be viewed as an extension of the parents’ roles, and it is never to replace them.
PARENT-DRIVEN YOUTH MINISTRY
The youth ministry is not designed around the presumed unique needs or desires of young people, but it is centered on God’s will for young people as revealed in His Word. Our youth ministry is parent-driven. Our goal is to strengthen parents in their God-called responsibility to “bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). The so-called “generation gap” and the “adolescent years” are a result of sin and should not be encouraged by the church or youth ministries. Our youth ministry is not centered on music, drama, comedy, or other entertainments but on the faithful preaching of God’s Word and Small Groups for application of Scripture, meeting personal needs, and one-on-one discipleship and accountability. While other activities may be allowed, they must never take the place of or de-emphasize the preaching of the Word or the leadership of fathers in discipling their children.
We believe that dating as it is practiced in our contemporary culture is an unbiblical practice that has led to untold misery among the people of God. Although the Scriptures do not specifically address courtship in every aspect, it does give us countless sound principles by which our young men and women may guide their relationships with the opposite sex and discover God’s will for marriage.
Christians are children of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9), and that grace should be expressed in their financial stewardship. Joyous giving reflects the God of grace who has saved us. Stinginess is antithetical to Christianity. We believe that Christians should tithe of their income to the local church. We do not tithe under the Law, but we tithe under love. Tithing is the beginning point or the “training wheels” of giving. God’s primary means of financially supporting His work on earth is through the giving of tithes and offerings to the local church. (I Corinthians 10:31, Ephesians 3:21)
PERSONALIZED WORLD MISSIONS
The Great Commission is a great command. Personal involvement in world missions is not a suggestion or an option, but it is demanded of every true believer. The entire local church family should be personally and strategically involved in world missions, mobilizing laborers, prayer, and finances to the end of glorifying God among all peoples. We are either called to go down into the well (be a missionary) or to hold the rope for those who are going down (support missionaries). Either way, our dedication must be costly and enduring.