Statement of Beliefs and Philosophy of Ministry

October 2010

Beliefs

As Baptist, Evangelical Christians:

  • We confess the Trinitarian faith as expressed in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds.
  • We subscribe wholeheartedly to the NSW Baptist Union Statement of Beliefs 1979/2003.
  • We affirm the convictions of evangelicalism, as expressed for example in the Gospel Coalition Confessional Statement (2007).

 

Philosophy of Ministry

Preamble

Because God has been at work in this world through his powerful word, ever since the Creation;

because God has revealed himself fully and finally in his Son the Lord Jesus;

because salvation is to be found only by faith in his name;

because the death of Christ is the only sacrifice for the sins of the world, and his resurrection the only source of eternal life;

because we live in the last days, between Christ’s ascension and his return, in the age that God has designated for the preaching of the gospel to the nations;

because as pastors and teachers we are set apart for the ministry of the Word and of prayer;

because all Scripture is inspired by God, and is given that we may be thoroughly equipped for every good work…

we commit ourselves to the preaching and teaching of gospel of Christ crucified as the heart of our ministry as pastors and teachers.

 

Gospel-Centred Ministry

When we speak of the preaching of the gospel as the heart of our ministry, we understand it as something distinct from…

  • The maintenance of traditions

As evangelicals we are necessarily conservative, committed to conserving and defending the truth of the gospel and the fundamentals of the Christian faith. However, this commitment to conserving and defending the gospel goes hand in hand with a desire to be willing to be reformed by God’s word, subjecting human traditions and rules to the critique of God’s word; hence, we do not see the goal of our ministry as the preservation of the cultural forms and ecclesiastical traditions of one generation, to be passed on to the next, but rather the work of guarding and growing the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • The achievement of church growth

We work and pray for the building of the body of Christ, including its numerical growth, and we believe that as pastors and teachers we must challenge and equip the people of God to be urgent, purposeful and strategic in the proclamation of the gospel. However, we see the heart of our ministry not as increasing the numbers in our congregation, but as the growth of the gospel; we long for church growth, but our prior commitment is gospel-growth, and so we direct our energies toward bringing people to faith in Christ, and building up believers in that faith, not merely toward the expansion of our programmes and attendances.

  • The addressing of the material, social and emotional needs of the members of the body of Christ

As pastors and teachers we are members of the body of Christ; hence we are called to share with our fellow-believers not only the word of the gospel but our lives as well, ‘like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children’, and to show love toward our fellow believers not only in words but also in deeds, caring for people’s material, social and emotional needs as well as their spiritual needs. However, we maintain that such ministries of mercy and compassion and mutual love within the body of Christ are not in themselves a proclamation of the gospel, but rather a fruit of the gospel in the common life of the community which it creates. Our own primary responsibility as pastors and teachers remains the ministry of the gospel, so that we ourselves and all other members of the body of Christ might be equipped and motivated by that gospel for the works of service that we are called to as members of Christ’s body.

  • The pursuit of a more just society

We acknowledge the command of Jesus that we love our neighbours as ourselves, and so we commit ourselves to pursuing the good of those around us, and pray that we ourselves and all the people of God will be people of compassion, who work and pray for a more just society, and respond with mercy to the needs of our neighbours. However, we do not see these works of mercy and political advocacy as constituting in themselves a proclamation of the gospel; nor do we see the salvation of God as coming by any other means than through the gospel of the Lord Jesus, or to anyone else but those who repent and trust in that gospel; hence the heart of our ministry is the proclamation of that gospel, as we preach a message of repentance and forgiveness of sins to all.

  • The performing of signs and wonders

We proclaim the mighty works of God in the death and the resurrection of Jesus, and, and the other miraculous works of God that are recorded in the Scriptures; we believe with all our hearts that God is the sovereign ruler of his creation, and is actively involved in his world from day to day, and powerful to answer the prayers of his people in miraculous ways, if that is his will. However, we do not believe that the Scriptures teach us to expect or demand the performing of signs and wonders as the normal or necessary accompaniment of the preaching of the gospel, and we repudiate any teaching that suggests that gospel proclamation without accompanying miracles somehow lacks the fullness of the power of God.

 

Bible-Based Ministry

We affirm that gospel-centred ministry is Bible-based ministry, because it is the message of the gospel that is the central message of the Scriptures, which are given to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Therefore in our teaching we commit ourselves to the discipline of the systematic exposition of Scripture as the principle method of our preaching, and in our evangelism we commit ourselves to pursuing methods of proclaiming the gospel that lead people to an encounter with the Lord Jesus on his own terms, as he is revealed in the Scriptures.