2. A healthy Reformed-evangelical theology will create an urgent desire to see both the lost saved and the saved matured.
3. The key ‘input’ activity (and a key outcome) of any ministry is the biblical word of God prayerfully brought to bear on the lives of men and women. We expect a healthy church to be one where this word is not only publicly preached and taught, but where every member is taught and equipped to seek the salvation and edification of those around them by speaking Christian truth in love — in a multitude of ways and contexts.
4. The rationale for devising effective structures and systems in church life is not only to facilitate the multiplication of speaking the word, but to multiply and mobilise the godly response that the Spirit produces through the word of God — such as prayer, generosity, evangelism and acts of love to one another and the world.
5. All Christians should accept responsibility under God for building the body of Christ (Eph 4:14-16), and should take whatever action is open to them within the bounds of Christian freedom to seek the salvation and edification of others (1 Cor 10:31-11:1). As those who are set aside to teach, train and exercise oversight, church leaders should lead the whole church in meeting this responsibility. Accordingly, leaders should take the initiative in constantly reforming and reshaping ministries in order to see as many people as possible saved and edified. This will mean evaluating the ‘fruit’ (or outcome) of our various ministries and practices, and changing whatever we are free to change (according to Scripture), for the sake of others.
6. By gathering together gifted leaders from Reformed-evangelical churches, we can provide significant help and encouragement to church leaders: in their theological understanding of the task and nature of ministry; in the spiritual growth of their gospel heart and ambition; in improving the quality of ‘input’ activities; in assessing the effectiveness of those inputs (i.e. the outcomes); in understanding basic ministry and leadership principles; in devising better strategies; and in becoming more fruitful leaders.
7. Beyond fundamental biblical convictions concerning the nature of church, we do not hold to any one-size-fits-all strategic model or church structure. However, we do believe there is merit in providing theologically robust, proven ministry models to leaders, and training and coaching in those models.
8. Measuring ‘growth’ and ‘progress’ in ministry is complex and always limited by our human perspective; all the same, we are convinced that we should expect the word of God to be fruitful, and that there is value in humbly measuring growth and progress, especially over time.
9. It is worth seeking to get beyond potentially superficial differences sometimes important but not central differences (of terminology, manner, style, language, history, culture, denomination) in order to facilitate godly working relationships with any and all who share our theology and convictions.
What we believe
We know God only as he reveals himself to us.
He has revealed himself in the 66 books of Scripture. Every word of these books is divinely inspired and infallible, as originally given and therefore the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
There is one unique and eternal God, who exists in an everlasting loving relationship of Father, Son and Spirit – distinct from one another, and not interchangeable – one God in three persons.
God is sovereign in all things: including creation, revelation, redemption, judgment and the establishing of his kingdom.
God is self sufficient in himself.
As sovereign loving creator and redeemer, he is worthy of all glory, honour and praise.
Creation exists by the will of God, separate to him, and for his glory. All things are made good and are not to be rejected if received with thanksgiving.
The moral order that exists within this world is therefore grounded in God and his character.
All of life is to be lived in joyful and thankful worship of the creator God.
Humanity were created as both male and female: equally and fully in the image of God. Marriage, as intended by God, is a lifelong union between a man and a woman, and is the only proper context for sexual activity.
4. The fall
As a consequence of the fall, humans universally are born with a sinful nature and rightly guilty before God. Every human is therefore tragically subject, by nature, to God’s righteous wrath and condemnation. God’s condemnation will express itself in the condemnation of those who are outside of the merciful provision of the grace of Christ to an eternal and conscious state the Scriptures call Hell.
On our own, no one is able to truly seek God or please God. Every dimension of human nature is marred by sin.
We are doubly indebted to God. By virtue of our creation we are utterly dependent on God. By virtue of our sin we are utterly at his mercy.
5. The gospel: Jesus and salvation
God’s purposes to save find their ultimate centre in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. For our salvation, God the Son took on human nature. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He was both fully God and fully man, though without sin.
It is only possible for a person to be redeemed from the guilt, penalty and power of sin through the sacrificial death, as our representative and substitute, of Jesus Christ. In that death God demonstrates his love to us most perfectly and establishes his victory over Satan and all his foes.
He rose bodily from the dead, as the first act of God’s new creation. He rules now as the saving Lord of heaven and earth. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.
The work of the Holy Spirit is necessary to make the benefits of the death of Jesus effective in an individual’s life, as he unites us to Christ. This work is only applied to those whom the Father appointed to eternal life, before the creation of the world. This appointment was not based on any foreseen virtue, merit or faith in those appointed.
The Holy Spirit irresistibly enables the sinner to repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ; and persevere in living out that faith; so that salvation is entirely of God’s grace, not human merit.
6. The Christian Life
Christians now enjoy the blessings of union with Christ and secure relationship with God. We are already declared righteous, forgiven, adopted as his sons and daughters, cleansed, sanctified and incorporated into the church.
The Holy Spirit continues to convict us of our sin, in response to God’s word, to lead us into genuine repentance and spiritual power to live righteous lives, conformed more and more to the likeness of Christ. While we are never sinlessly perfect in this life, we strive to become more godly.
We believe Satan’s work in the moral realm is effectively undone by the work of Christ applied through prayer, preaching the word and calling people to repentance and faith, without the necessity of exorcisms.
We still await the final consummation of our hope with the return of Christ, the resurrected transformation of our bodies, the complete spiritual perfection of our innermost being and life with him eternally.
7. The Church
In coming to Christ, all believers, both Jew and Gentile, are united together into one heavenly body – the church of the firstborn, the body of Christ.
The visible church is a tangible expression of the heavenly church: the gathering of believers around Christ. The life, doctrine and ministry of the visible church is to be ruled by the supreme authority of Scripture. This rule is administered and applied by godly leaders, who must not lead in a way which contradicts or undermines Scripture, nor which is inconsiderate of the conscience of individual Christians.
God continues to give gifts to his people for the loving edification of his church. Both men and women are to seek proper expression of their gifts to build the church. However we do not believe any particular gift is evidence of a fullness of the Spirit. We believe the mature course for church life is to focus on the centre – prayer, preaching the gospel to the world, godly living, loving service and Christ himself as revealed to us in the fully sufficient word of God.
As in human families, the Bible makes clear that in the family of God, the church, the roles of men and women are not interchangeable. In particular, eldership is only for biblically qualified men as is the formal instruction of God’s people from the word of God within the public assembly. We are committed to expressing appropriate biblical differences within relationships of mutual love, respect and interdependence.
8. The mission
As God’s redeemed people there are many important duties and good deeds he has prepared for us to do. However the mission that we are explicitly and uniquely called to and entrusted with is to making disciples of all nations. Christlikeness will include growing in a desire to see all people saved.
We believe that the gospel should be urgently proclaimed to all people so that through the preaching of God’s word by the power of God’s Spirit all people might believe and be saved.
Good deeds provide opportunities for evangelism, they dictate the conduct of the evangelist, they are the necessary and inevitable fruit of genuine conversion and so they commend the gospel to our hearers. But they remain distinct if rarely separate, from the gospel preaching mission itself.
9. The future hope
Christ will physically return to earth at an unknown time, to deliver the final judgement of all and to make everything new.
Those who received Christ in this life will be resurrected to everlasting life, while all those who did not receive him will be resurrected to everlasting judgement.
True physical healing, moral perfection and immediate experience of God comes only with the new creation.
(Note: the above Statement of Faith intentionally omits some finer points of doctrine and secondary issues as we allow the leaders of local churches to operate according to their convictions on these matters.)