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This is document consists of three sections:
- Statement Of Faith
- Values Of Partner Churches
- Why Are These Two Documents So Concise?
Statement of Faith
What is a Statement of Faith?
The content of the epistles testifies to how important it is that churches believe correct doctrine (1 Tim 3:15). It is important that we believe the right things about who God is and how he interacts with mankind. It is important that we grasp the full benefits of the New Covenant and the primacy of the Church in the heart and plan of God. It is important that we correctly understand this present age and the hope we have in the future age. And, it is important that elders and believers are able to hold fast to truth, defend truth, and to proclaim truth.
Our Statement of Faith outlines what we consider to be the primary, non-negotiable biblical doctrines that we believe as partner churches. Churches are free to adopt this Statement of Faith as their own, or minimally to use it as a plumb line of truth against which to help gauge the doctrinal strength and accuracy of their church.
This is the Statement of Faith of the Evangelical Alliance of the UK. We are happy that it captures the main beliefs that Advance partner churches would subscribe to.
We Believe In:
The one true God who lives eternally in three persons—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The love, grace and sovereignty of God in creating, sustaining, ruling, redeeming and judging the world.
The divine inspiration and supreme authority of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, which are the written Word of God—fully trustworthy for faith and conduct.
The dignity of all people, made male and female in God's image to love, be holy and care for creation, yet corrupted by sin, which incurs divine wrath and judgment.
The incarnation of God’s eternal Son, the Lord Jesus Christ—born of the virgin Mary; truly divine and truly human, yet without sin.
The atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross: dying in our place, paying the price of sin and defeating evil, so reconciling us with God.
The bodily resurrection of Christ, the first fruits of our resurrection; his ascension to the Father, and his reign and mediation as the only Saviour of the world.
The justification of sinners solely by the grace of God through faith in Christ.
The ministry of God the Holy Spirit, who leads us to repentance, unites us with Christ through new birth, empowers our discipleship and enables our witness.
The Church, the body of Christ both local and universal, the priesthood of all believers—given life by the Spirit and endowed with the Spirit's gifts to worship God and proclaim the gospel, promoting justice and love.
The personal and visible return of Jesus Christ to fulfil the purposes of God, who will raise all people to judgment, bring eternal life to the redeemed and eternal condemnation to the lost, and establish a new heaven and new earth.
Values of Partner Churches
What are values?
“That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.” (1 Cor 4:17)
Interestingly, Paul’s concern for churches extended beyond mere sound doctrine to imitating his “ways” in Christ. If doctrine refers to believing the right stuff, then ways refer to living out the right stuff.
For example, it is possible to believe (correctly) in God’s sovereignty, but to still be mean, miserable and driven. We need help in learning how to apply the sovereignty of God to help us live in a way that is kind, joyful and peaceful. Equally, I know churches who pride themselves on proclaiming the one and only true gospel of God’s grace, yet you don’t notice too many smiles during their times of corporate worship. They need help in the way God’s grace pertains to worship and all of life.
Similarly, Paul wasn’t content for a church to just have head knowledge of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit; he spent multiple chapters about the way we should eagerly and intelligently facilitate the working of the Spirit in church life. And take leadership, to believe (quite rightly) that the church should be led by leaders/elders is one thing, but creating a healthy dynamic where leaders are humble yet confident, servant-hearted yet fearless, takes modelling and impartation not just one-dimensional instruction in truth.
We refer to these ways as values. The following Values of Partner Churches provide an overview of the main biblical “ways” that we encourage partner churches to use as a framework to inspire and guide them into a compelling practice of New Testament church.
We have five foundational, imperative values that all partner churches would eagerly embrace, although the local application of these values would differ from church to church depending on the conviction of the local elders and their context:
Gospel-centered refers to the biblical philosophy of ministry of keeping the message of the gospel at the centre of all ministry, whether to believers or unbelievers. Belief in the gospel is the means by which we enter God’s kingdom, and also how we make all progress in the kingdom. The good news of the gospel – that we can be saved from the wrath of God - contains both the power and motivation for salvation and everything within salvation. We desire that local churches help unbelievers and believers increasingly believe and apply the gospel to every area of their life.
Convinced that God intends churches to be outward-looking mission agencies, both locally and globally, and all believers to be fishers of men, we desire that local churches would specifically equip and inspire their people members to win people to Christ, and that the church community is on mission more broadly in terms of society-serving initiatives and planting churches.
Because Jesus Himself made disciples and commissioned all believers to make disciples, the goal is for every believer to become a disciple-making disciple. We desire that local churches actively make disciple-making disciples who know, love and obey Jesus. Courses and tools might help, but discipleship happens via intentional relationships, as well as via small groups that prioritise this.
We believe that local churches should be in eager and intelligent pursuit of the presence, power, fruit and all the gifts of God’s Spirit as mentioned in the Bible, and to heed the biblical call to be filled with the Spirit, and remain filled, throughout our walk with Jesus.
We believe that churches should be led by a called and capable team of elders with a “first among equals” leader, who lovingly guard, guide and govern the church. Elders are the highest human authority over a local church. We encourage elders to be helped in fulfilling their calling through connection with trans-local ministers. The biblical expectation is that elders are male.
New Testament Churches
Churches who are exploring partnership often ask for a little more indication of the kind of “feel” that we think a New Testament type church in today’s world would have. To this end we mention another 15 biblical things that New Testament churches seemed to value:
- Enjoying God’s grace and sovereignty
- Encouraging faith-filled exploits
- Prizing and preaching the Bible
- Worshipping whole-heartedly
- Prioritising prayer
- Cultivating a family culture
- Celebrating diversity
- Nurturing healthy home life
- Excelling in financial generosity
- Practicing baptism and communion
- Modelling servant leadership
- Pursuing societal renewal
- Loving mercy and doing justice
- Honouring other churches
- Partnering with trans-local teams
Why Are The Documents So Concise?
Because we do not want to collapse the authority of local eldership teams who are the God-appointed authorities in their local churches.
Our Statement of Faith deliberately stops short of trying to cover every eventuality as this is the realm of local elders. When an eldership team that is exploring partnership with Advance says, “But what do you believe about such and such a detail of that doctrine?” we would reply, “Every partner church would have their own position on that. Why don’t you contact a few of them to get some input to help your eldership team work that one out.”
Similarly with our values: we only have five foundational, imperative values, each with only a basic description. The local application of these five is up to the local elders depending on their convictions and context.