The church is a gift from God to mankind. Through local churches, God has brought people into a relationship with Jesus Christ; ministered to the poor; healed and strengthened marriages and families; cared for the sick; encouraged people in the faith; equipped young people; trained leaders; and advanced the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.
The local church is one of the major ways that God brings His grace to mankind. For this reason, God desires people to be in a local church where they can experience God's grace in greater ways and become more effective channels of His grace to others. Because there are many different types of people with many different types of needs, God has provided many types of churches to meet those needs.
Our God is not only a God of grace but also a God of commitment. His commitment to us was so great that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for us on the cross that we might have our sins forgiven and receive eternal life (John 3:16). In response to God's great love for us, we are called to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love people as ourselves (Mark 12: 30,31). Also, we are called to love our brothers and sisters in Christ like Christ loved us – by laying down our lives for one another (1 John 3:16). Further, in accordance with the Scriptures, men and women are to be devoted to a Christ-honoring, grace-filled local church where they are called, in a practical way, to love God and love people (Hebrews 10:23-25; Acts 2:42-47).
If a person is committed to Christ and to a Christ-honoring church, that commitment to the church will be demonstrated in a variety of ways including:
*A committed member will be devoted to God and the Scriptures: Growing, learning, obeying and sharing God's word (Acts 2:42; Ephesians 4:11-16; 2 Timothy 3:16,17).
*A committed member will live a life of love – being kind to others, caring for others, serving others and giving to others (Romans 12:9-16).
*A committed member will be actively praying with the church and for the church (1 Timothy 2:1-8).
*A committed member will be using his or her spiritual gifts in ministry (1 Peter 4:10,11).
*A committed member will contribute financially to the local church (Galatians 6:6; 1 Corinthians 16:1,2).
*A committed member will be faithful in attending the weekly worship service (Hebrews 10:25).
*A committed member will live in a loving and honoring relationship with the elders of the church who are given by God to provide humble, servant leadership to the local church (1 Peter 5:1-5).
*When a committed member believes that the local church is not following the Scriptures, he or she will make an honoring appeal to the church leadership so that the church can be corrected and become more honoring to Christ (Galatians 6:1; 1 Timothy 5:1).
*Should the Lord lead a committed member to leave a local church he or she will make a good faith effort to leave in a respectful manner, with the blessing of that church (Phil. 2:1-4; Acts 13:1-3).(Note: If a person decides to leave a local church – whether or not he or she does so in a respectful manner – we in GCC encourage pastors and church members to demonstrate the love of Christ by giving a blessing to the person who leaves (Romans 12:10).
At times pastors in our association have used the phrase “life-long commitment” when referring to local church involvement. This phrase has been used in order to urge people to be involved in a local church the rest of their lives. For the record, it is not the position of GCC that it is God’s will that every person be in the same local church their whole lives or that it is God’s will that a person should never leave a GCC church. As believers in Jesus Christ, we reaffirm that all Christians must follow Christ, not men, in all decisions regarding their local church involvement (Galatians 1:10). At the same time, we do affirm that there are some wonderful benefits for the individual and for the universal church of Jesus Christ when Christians avoid continual “church-hopping” and instead become committed to one local church in their community.
As a member of the National Association of Evangelicals, GCC has a deep love and respect for all churches that are part of the body of Christ. Further, GCC sees the value to individuals, to local churches and to advancing the gospel throughout the world when Christians have a continuity of relationship within the same church or the same group of churches over a long period of time – whether that church is a GCC church or another evangelical church or another church association.
In addition, our movement of churches has a vision of fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus Christ by planting New Testament churches throughout the world that unite together for the advancement of the gospel. Because of this vision God has stirred many church members in GCC churches to make an on-going relational commitment to each other to work together year after year and decade after decade. Jesus said, “By this shall all men know you are My disciples by your love for one another” (John 13:35). This commitment to love one another for the sake of Christ and His gospel has been a foundation to the Great Commission church movement. That being said, we in GCC who have lived out this commitment throughout the years recognize and respect that each individual must follow God’s unique and personal leading at any given point in his or her life.
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