Congregationalism is defined as:
- That the local church has the right to determine its own mission and decisions under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the guidance of God’s Word (1 John 1:3, 7 and Colossians 1:17-18).
- That the responsibility for church government belongs to the entire membership and each member is encouraged to participate in the decision-making process (Ephesians 4:11-13).
- That while the congregation determines the general direction of the local church, carrying out specific directions and ministries is delegated to specific officers and leaders in the church. Authority is vested by the congregation in these individuals or groups to operate under the guidelines established by the congregation (Ephesians 4:2-3; John 17:20-23; and Acts 20:28).
While government is restricted to the members of Faith Bible Fellowship, congregationalism invites believers, because they have been gifted by the Holy Spirit, to participate in ministry. All believers who regularly participate in the life of this local church are encouraged to find a place of service and are welcomed as co-laborers for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Membership is granted to anyone who has given testimony to his/her faith in Jesus Christ and who desires to actively support the ministry of Faith Bible Fellowship. This active support includes affirming the EFCA Statement of Faith; the mission, vision and values of Faith Bible Fellowship; and actively praying for, giving to and participating in Faith Bible Fellowship (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-14; Ephesians 2:19-22).
Membership in a local church is not required for salvation. The only requirements for salvation are verbally confessing Christ as Lord and believing in Christ as Savior (i.e. recognizing that you are broken, sinful, and in desperate need of a Savior — Jesus Christ). The Bible’s simple and clear teaching on salvation can be found in Romans 10:9.
Role of the Board of Elders
Faith Bible Fellowship is committed to the Bible’s teaching that Elders will be godly men who oversee the the various functions of the local church. These qualifications are outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. The Board of Elders is comprised of the Pastor and other qualified men elected by the membership. Although there are three terms used for the offices of the church (i.e. bishop, elder, and deacon), analysis of these terms indicates that bishop and elder are used interchangeably.
The role of the Elders within the local church is best summarized as shepherding the flock of God (i.e. one who lives by example through feeding, directing, and caring for the flock). All the functions of the local church fall under this category, and the Elders assist the Pastor in shepherding the congregation. The Bible’s teaching on these duties is expressed in 1 Peter 5:1-5. The Board of Elders recognizes that their sole Example is the Chief Shepherd — Jesus Christ. Thus, the elders are deeply committed to prayer concerning any and all decisions made within the church body, that the Holy Spirit would direct their actions to be in accordance with God’s will.
The Elders are overseers. They oversee and delegate the business and ministry functions of the church. Elders focus on the following:
- Doctrine: Ensuring the doctrine of the church is biblical. All doctrinal issues in the church will be settled by the Board of Elders.
- Direction: Ensuring that the direction of the church, both physical and spiritual, is consistent with the Mission Statement and By-Laws of Faith Bible Fellowship, and the Great Commission given by Jesus Christ. Matthew 28:18-20
- Discipline: The purpose of discipline is to keep the integrity and purity of the Body of Jesus Christ; to help the Body and an individual believer move towards righteousness and maturity in Jesus Christ; and to restore a person to faith and fellowship with other believers and Jesus Christ. The process of church discipline is outlined in Matthew 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1-5; and 2 Thessalonians 3:13-15
Plurality of Elders
The Scriptures teach that a plurality of elders governed individual New Testament churches (Acts 14:23; Acts 20:28; and Philippians 1:1). Nowhere does the Scripture mention congregations lead by a single leader or stand-alone pastor. Faith Bible Fellowship is committed that a plurality of godly men, each exercising their individual gifts as elders, aligns with the Bible’s teaching that wisdom is found in the midst of many godly counselors, all of which pursue the guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17). The Bible’s teaching on godly counsel can be found in Proverbs 12:15; Proverbs 15:22; Proverbs 19:20; and Proverbs 24:6.