New Testament Baptist Church exists to exalt God by making fully devoted followers of Christ.
Why Do We Need a Philosophy of Ministry?
The simple answer to this question is that a philosophy of ministry provides a basic theology of ministry. In other words, it outlines what the Scriptures say about the church and the church’s function. A philosophy is not intended to address every possible ministry program; rather, it provides the framework for what each ministry or potential ministry is supposed to accomplish. This document should provide the necessary foundation for each and every ministry in which New Testament Baptist Church (NTBC) engages and will engage in the future. Much like the Church Covenant condenses Scriptural principles regarding how individual members function within the church, this philosophy condenses principles mandated by Scripture that govern why the church functions as it does. All that NTBC does should be built on the Scriptural foundation this philosophy of ministry provides.
This philosophy intends to accomplish the following purposes:
Unification – The New Testament presents a vision for the church and its ministries. Since this philosophy is based on that vision, each member of NTBC can unite under it.
Accurate Evaluation – Each ministry should be regularly analyzed and evaluated to confirm it falls in line with the New Testament’s vision for the church.
Ministry Alignment – Every current ministry in which NTBC engages should be aligned with this philosophy. As well, every ministry proposed should be founded on it.
Eliminate Distraction – With so many ideas present in our culture regarding the church and what it should be, this philosophy will help to keep NTBC focused on what is important and what is Scriptural. Even if a particular program proposal may not be sinful, it may not be expedient. This philosophy provides a guide by which NTBC can maintain focus and eliminate distractions.
Foundations Provided by Jesus Christ
“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” John 17:4
Any philosophy that seeks to define the aim, attributes, and actionsof the Christian church must begin first with an understanding of these same qualities in Christ’s earthly ministry. Christ’s aimin all that he did on earth is revealed in His prayer to the Father in John 17. His unequivocal aim was to glorify the Father. Even though he prayed to receive glory, His own glory was not the end in itself; rather, Jesus knew that the glorification of the Son would result in the glorification of the Father. All that Jesus did in manifesting the Father’s name to the people whom he was given, His true and devoted followers, those to whom he gave eternal life, qualified him to receive glory, which in turn glorified the Father. Jesus’ mission was to glorify the Father by bringing redemption to man according to the Father’s eternal plan.
Through certain actionsChrist was able to effectively accomplish His mission. First, he prayed. He prayed both publically and privately, for himself and others, in times of difficulty, and before significant events (Matthew 14:23; Mark 1:25; Luke 6:12). Second, he preached and taught (Matthew 4:23; Luke 8:1). Third, he ministered to human needs (Matthew 14:14). Fourth, he embodied discipleship by pouring himself into the lives of His followers.
The ministry attributeof self-sacrificial servant leadership characterized Jesus’ ministry while on earth. In the kingdom of God humble service is the rule, and Jesus is the premier example. To become first in Christ’s kingdom meant to be last on earth. Christ’s followers were expected to model their lives after His example. True greatness in Christ’s kingdom comes through serving others (Mark 9:35; 10:45; Luke 14:10-11). Another important attributeof Jesus’ ministry is the faithfulness he exhibited in accomplishing all that the Father called him to do according to the plan of redemption (John 17:4; 19:30).
Since Jesus Christ is the foundation, builder, and architect of the New Testament church (Matthew 16:18), the aims, actions, and attributesof His ministry provide the foundation for all the church is called to accomplish in His name.
What is the Church?
“On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hellshall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
In the New Testament, the word “church” is translated from the Greek word ekklesiaand is used 114 times. The word first appears in Matthew, but only three times in all of the Gospels. Ekklesiacan refer to believers in the universal body of Christ; however, New Testament use primarily refers to local gatherings of believers. The Apostle Paul used the term prolifically when writing letters addressed to specific assemblies or church leaders in particular places. Similarly, the Apostle John’s apocalyptic revelation addresses seven churches in Asia. Further, the majority of the times ekklesiais used in the New Testament the focus is on a local gathering of believers itself, not on where they met (Acts 19:32, 34, 31). The description of what the church did in Acts 2:42 further highlights the fact that local assemblies were made up of believers and intended for believers. In sum, the church is a local, visible assembly of baptized believers in Jesus Christ who gather together for His glory and purposes.
NTBC Ministry Philosophy
The Aim of Our Ministry
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
The aimof New Testament Baptist Church is to exalt God by developing fully devoted followers of Christ.We believe that the Scriptures are clear that our ultimate purpose as believers and as a church is to honor and glorify God (Isaiah 43:7; Rev 4:11; Ephesians 1:6-14; 3:21; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 15:27-28; Romans 11:36). We also believe that the primary means by which the church glorifies God is by developing and producing devoted followers of Jesus Christ. God created man for His glory. But because of His sin, mankind falls short of this ultimate purpose. God sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world to redeem fallen man and reconcile him to God. As Jesus prepared to ascend to His Father, He commanded His followers (and by extension the church) to go into all the world and “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus instituted and commissioned the church to go into all the world and develop devoted followers who having come to salvation grow in conformity to Him to the glory of God. From subsequent New Testament revelation given to the church and the practices of the early church, it is clear that this was the mandate that was pursued with passion and devotion (Acts 20:20-21, 32; Ephesians 4:11-16; Colossians 1:28).
We also believe that the New Testament reveals the key actionsthat the church from its inception has engaged in to fulfill the mission it has been given.
The Actions of Our Ministry
“And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostle’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.” Acts 2:42
Beginning in the book of Acts, we see the church fulfilling its mission by actively and intentionally engaging in three fundamental activities: discipleship, worship, and fellowship.
The activity of discipleship encompasses two crucial, biblical aspects centered on the “apostles’ teaching”: evangelism and edification.
Evangelism- is the practice of proclaiming the good news of the gospel to those lost in sin and calling them to repentance and faith in Christ as their only hope of salvation and reconciliation to God (Acts 2:37-41, 47; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Christ is proclaimed in corporate assemblies of the church. But He is also proclaimed personally as members of the body build redemptive relationships with people in their communities seeking to have opportunity to share the gospel.
Edification- is the practice of teaching God’s word to the redeemed in order to bring them to maturity in Christ as His followers and as members of His church (Acts 2:42; Ephesians 4:11-16; Colossians 1:28). The word of God is to be faithfully proclaimed and taught in the church so that believers can grow in the Lord and be strengthened to live for and serve Him (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 4:2; 2 Peter 3:18).
The priority practice of the church and of every believer is worship. The church assembles regularly and corporately to worship God. Through prayer, singing, the observation of the ordinances (Lord’s Supper, Baptism) and the proclamation of the truths of Scripture that reveal the greatness and glory of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, God is praised and adored and His greatness and goodness are extolled. (Acts 2:43, 47). The church also worships God actively as its members live faithfully in obedience to God’s word and glorify Him in all they do (John 4:23-24; Romans 12:1-2; Hebrews 12:28-29).
The church is to actively practice biblical fellowship. While this may include social meetings and interaction, true fellowship encompasses the development of loving relationships among the members in the context of mutual care and accountability (Acts 2:42, 44-45). The church is to be the place where members intentionally, purposefully, and practically demonstrate the love of Christ toward one another to the glory of God. Such loving fellowship binds the church body together in a true spirit of unity and care (Ephesians 4:1-6).
The aim of NTBC is to exalt God by developing devoted followers of Jesus Christ. To do so, we must persistently and with devotion be engaged as a church in the actionsof discipleship (evangelism & edification), worship, and fellowship. None of these essential actions can be neglected. Allare significant. Evangelism reaches out to the lost. Edification and fellowship turn our attention to the believer. Worship keeps all that we do as a church pointed to the One and Only True and Living God for His glory and the glory of His Son, Jesus Christ.
The Attributes of Our Ministry
“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” Colossians 1:28
If the aim of NTBC is to develop fully devoted followers of Christ and our actionsthat flow from sound biblical principles accomplish our aim, we believe there are certain attributesthat each follower will possess. The first attribute upon which all others are founded is the follower will be genuinely converted (1 John). The evidence of conversion will be displayed by various commitments to Christ and through membership in His church, which include a:
Commitment to worship (Romans 12:1-2; 15:9; Ephesians 1:6,12,14; Colossians 3:16-17) – as followers of Christ each aspect of our lives is to be presented to Christ as a spiritual act of worship. Also, the community of followers is called to gather to worship God corporately.
Commitment to grow in personal holiness (John 15:5-8; Philippians 3:12-15; 1 Peter 1:14-16; 2 Peter 1:3-11) – although perfection in holiness is not possible in this fallen state, the follower’s objective is to press forward in their sanctification becoming more and more like Christ.
Commitment to the Church and Its Health – the New Testament in no way envisions the life of a follower apart from the local church; therefore, it goes to great length to define the responsibilities the follower has to the church. These responsibilities include a responsibility: to faithfully gather (Hebrews 10:25); to love (John 13:34-35); to edify (Romans 14:19; Ephesians 4:11-16); to discipline (Proverbs 27:5-6; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 12:5-10); to disciple (Romans 15:14-16); to the church’s leadership (1 Thessalonians 5:12; Hebrews 13:17).
Commitment to service (1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:16) – each follower is endowed by the Spirit with spiritual gifts intended to be used in service to the church.
Commitment to missions (Matthew 28:19-20; 3 John) – the Great Commission places a responsibility on each follower to make disciples of all nations and take the gospel to the ends of the earth. This takes place when members of a church participate in both the going and the sending of those who proclaim the gospel.
New Testament Baptist Church has been called by God to honor Him in all we do. Therefore, in order to honor God in all things and bring glory to His holy name we have established and are committed to the following core values that determine how we go about our ministry:
- God’s Word- We believe the Bible presents itself as the inspired Word of God that speaks to every area of personal and church life with absolute authority (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, we are committed to looking to the Bible to guide all we believe and do and to the faithful expositional preaching and teaching biblical truth in all areas of our ministry.
- Prayer- We believe God has commanded the local church to be engaged in fervent and persistent prayer (1 Timothy 2:1-7; Luke 18:1-8). We believe that, as a loving Father, He desires us to answer the prayers of His children (Matthew 7:7-11). Therefore, we are committed to regular times of corporate prayer (Acts 1:14; 2:42; 4:23-31; 13:1-3), to caring intercession for fellow believers (Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 1:9-11; 4:6), and to praying for the advancement of the Gospel and salvation of the lost (2 Thessalonians 3:1; Romans 10:1).
- Excellence- We believe that God’s glory deserves to be honored by the determined effort to reflect that glory clearly. This is accomplished by striving for excellence in all we do. We recognize that excellence is not simply being the best or doing our best, but that genuine excellence is using our God-given resources effectively to accomplish the right mission (Matthew 25:14-30). Therefore, we are committed to purpose driven ministry which sets clear standards and seeks to achieve them by utilizing our resources effectively.
- Spirit-gifted Service- We believe every believer has been equipped by God with the abilities needed for fruitful ministry within the local church (1 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Peter 4:10). The gifts are given for building up the church (1 Corinthians 14:12) and to serve others (1 Peter 4:10). Therefore, we offer regular and systematic teaching about gift-based ministry and seek to place believers into areas of ministry according to their God-given gifts and abilities.
- Spirit-motivated Ministry- We believe the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of believers to move them into ministry for God’s pleasure (Philippians 2:13; Psalms 37:4; Nehemiah 2:12). Therefore, we are committed to placing the priority on people, not programs. We also encourage freedom in ministry with responsibility, and the bottom-up development of ministries.
- Equipping Ministry- We believe the ministry of the local church belongs to every member, not only those members who engage in vocational ministry (Ephesians 4:12). The purpose of vocational ministers is to equip and empower church members for effective ministry so the body of Christ may be edified (Ephesians 4:11-16). Therefore, we strive to place the ministries of NTBC into the hands of non-vocational ministers.
- Servant Leadership- We believe that God establishes clear positions of leadership within the local church (1 Timothy 3:1,10), but we affirm that genuine spiritual leadership is service which seeks the good and development of those who are served (Matthew 20:20-34; 1 Peter 5:1-4). Therefore, we honor Christ-like leadership and strive to forge unity among God’s people through diligently teaching biblical principles.
- Mentoring Spiritual Leaders- We believe God calls on present spiritual leaders to intentionally cultivate future spiritual leaders (2 Timothy 2:2). Therefore, we honor the ministry of the Word, call believers to serious ministry commitment, and invest our lives into the mentoring of spiritual leaders who can rise to fulfill God’s plan for ministry.
- Loving Relationships- We believe God’s people are called on to encourage and exhort one another toward faithful obedience to Christ (Romans 15:14; Hebrews 3:13). This encouragement and exhortation is best fostered inside the warmth of loving relationships where there is a common interest in the welfare of others (John 13:34-35; Philippians 2:3-4). Therefore, we structure opportunities for believers to develop loving relationships which cultivate openness and mutual accountability.
- Relational Evangelism- We believe God has placed every believer within a relational network which is to be his/her primary evangelistic focus. We believe Christ’s commission to His disciples is to develop redemptive relationships (John 17:18; 20:21) so they may give a clear verbal witness about Christ and the Gospel (Romans 10:9-15) and live out the Christian life so non-believers may see it (Matthew 5:16; John 13:34-35). Therefore, we encourage intentional interaction with, not imitation of, the world. We also seek to train believers to communicate the gospel and provide opportunities to introduce non-believers to the fellowship of our church.