Redeemer Bible Church Network Cooperation Agreement

GUIDELINES FOR MEMBER CHURCHES

11/2021

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all 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 3:21

As a family of churches, we desire to glorify God and make His name known in all that we do in our local communities. We believe that this includes the growing and planting of churches well into the future. We have created this document in order to accomplish this in a manner that is both efficient and pleasing to our Savior Jesus. We believe churches should remain autonomous and selfgoverned, so we do not intend this to be a governing document for any individual church or for the network. It is, instead, an explanation of the core beliefs and practices around which we choose to cooperate. The churches that make up our network are governed by local elders who choose to cooperate with the network in order to more efficiently plant new churches. Individual churches in the network are encouraged to participate in the network to the extent that it is helpful to their local congregation as well as the network as a whole.

DOCTRINE

“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instructions in sound doctrine and also rebuke those who contradict it.” Titus 1:9

Redeemer network churches are committed to these fundamentals: God glorifying – Christcentered – Holy Spirit led – Bible saturated – Gospel preaching. The basic statement of doctrinal cooperation between our churches is the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

TEACHING

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word …” 2 Timothy 4:1-2a

We believe the sole authority for the Church is Jesus Christ and He has revealed His will through His word, the Bible. The Bible is inspired of the Holy Spirit, inerrant in its original manuscripts, infallible, faithfully preserved to our day by the Holy Spirit, totally sufficient, and trustworthy. Therefore, the Bible has final say concerning all doctrine and practice in our local churches. With this in mind, it will be our aim to ensure all ministries remain firmly centered around teaching the Scriptures and its application.

With regard to preaching, we are firmly committed to preaching the Bible expositionally. It is our goal in preaching to expose God’s Word to God’s people. The point of the passage being considered becomes the point of the sermon being preached, or lesson taught. This is not to say every sermon must be preached expositionally, as there are times when it is beneficial to the health of our churches to preach on subjects or topics. However, it is our normal practice to preach through entire books of the Bible, chapter-by-chapter, and verse-by-verse. We believe this form of preaching communicates to our congregations that God’s Word is central to our church, vital to our faith, and helps the congregation learn to study the Bible for themselves.

Concerning small groups of all ages, we are committed to training and equipping the people in our churches to:

  • Understand and interpret the Bible
  • Know what the Bible says about the nature of God and His plan of redemption.
  • Know what the Bible says concerning ethics (the manner in which we live our Christian life)  

Inductive Bible studies, doctrinal studies, foundational classes, worldview and apologetic courses, Church history seminars, and Christian living education help our churches achieve these goals. With that being said, any small group study not firmly grounded in the Bible must be rejected.

With regard to doctrinal philosophy, we agree that our leaders will preach and teach:

  1. A high view of God’s sovereignty through the entire understanding of our salvation (justification, regeneration, sanctification, and glorification). We will not shy away from teaching about the doctrines of election or predestination.
  2. The historic summary principles of salvation that were refreshed in the church as a result of the Protestant Reformation accurately reflect true salvation: Sola Scriptura (by Scripture Alone), Sola Gratia (by Grace Alone), Sola Fide (by Faith Alone), Solus Christus (by Christ Alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone Be Glory).
  3. The absolute necessity of the work, fruit, and gifting of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the gospel work of the church. We will regularly seek the presence, power, and fruitfulness of the Holy Spirit in our churches. We will not shy away from teaching about the work, fruits, and gifts of the Holy Spirit in Christianity.
CHURCH PLANTING

“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you.” Titus 1:5

It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ, and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ, to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. We believe that disciples are most effectively made in the context of the local church. With this in mind, church planting is of the utmost importance. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every Christian to constantly seek the conversion of the lost to faith in Christ, and then help them into local congregations. In the context of the local church, we labor to disciple and hold Christians accountable, fostering sanctification in their lives. We recognize that Jesus’ call to all Christians[1] is a call for ongoing, personal disciple making. We believe that the local church is Jesus’ appointed way for making new disciples. Therefore, the establishment and renewal of local churches is at the heart of the Great Commission.

This means that a tremendous amount of our effort and resources must be invested in raising up church planting elders and ministry leaders. As a group of churches, we willfully elevate the task of planting churches above the comforts of our local congregation. We preach and pray toward the goal of sending out fruitful members and valuable resources to plant new churches. We agree with Tim Keller when he says, “The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for the 1) numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else – not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes – will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting.” 

CORPORATE MUSICAL WORSHIP

“Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.” Psalm 29:1

We believe that congregational music and other forms of corporate worship glorify God and serve the local church in three primary ways. First, our combined and unified singing voices express to the ear of our Savior true doctrine and acceptable worship as taught in the Bible. Second, congregational worship jointly expresses our desire to live on this earth in unity with one another in submission to the authority of Jesus – the head of the church. Third, the regularity of our worship indelibly brands our minds with well-crafted concise statements about his character and worth. Those statements serve as spiritual food in times of dispersion and weakness. Therefore, it is essential that the content of our corporate worship is doctrinally and scripturally sound. The style of our worship is infinitely less significant than the content, however, we believe it is wise to sing and speak in a style that most effectively conveys the content of the worship to the heart of the worshiper. Those who lead in aspects of corporate worship through song and music serve the church; because of this, it is wise for those individuals to meet the scriptural qualifications of deacons.

FOREIGN MISSION

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations …” Matthew 28:19a

Our mission, locally and around the world, is to make Jesus Christ known. We feel a special urgency to make Him known in places where His gospel is only sparsely known, or not known. We will regularly seek to persuade, train, and serve indigenous church planters as they seek to start and lead new congregations. We realize that working with mission agencies and other likeminded churches in this task often expedites the work. Therefore, when we find ourselves in theological and philosophical agreement with such an organization, we will cheerfully seek to forge a partnership for the sake of the gospel.

CHURCH GOVERNMENT

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you: not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:2-3

The Church exists for the eternal glory of God and the joy of His people. The Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the church, which is composed of all genuine disciples, and in Him is invested supreme authority for its government. According to our Lord’s command, baptized believers are to gather into local churches. To each of these churches Christ has given authority, through His Word, concerning matters of doctrine, discipline, dispute, and practical direction to fulfill His commission to make disciples.[2]

Two offices exist in the Christian church: Elder and Deacon. The term Elder is used synonymously with the terms Bishop, Overseer, and Pastor in the New Testament. The Elders are made up of members recognized by the congregation. Since the office of an Elder is a biblical one, certain qualifications of spiritual maturity must be met (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5- 9; 1 Peter 5:1-4). The Bible teaches that only men should hold the office of Elder. These qualified spiritual men lead the church and are its primary teachers and shepherds.

Deacons assist the elders by providing practical help with the work of the ministry in order to assure that the ministry of the Word and prayer remain the foremost focus of the elders (Acts 6:1-7). Some are persuaded that 1 Timothy 3:11 presents the qualifications for Deacons’ wives. Others are persuaded that women who meet the qualifications of godliness in character are permitted to serve as deaconesses. Both positions are understood to be biblical and permissible. It will be left to the local church to decide their position on this matter.

The biblical references that address the qualifications of deacon and elder nominees are listed in 1 Timothy 3:2-12 and Titus 1:6. We will not add a qualification or restriction the Bible does not address. The Bible speaks to the issue of divorce and remarriage for God’s people. The Elders of each church are encouraged to reflect on these passages, as they relate to the character of the person being considered for Deacon or Elder. Each church will be responsible for examining nominees, assessing their biblical qualification and determining their call to service and leadership.

GENDER ROLES IN THE CHURCH

“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

We believe that men and women are equal in personhood and dignity, but are distinct concerning their roles in the home and church. This position, known as complementarianism, is to be distinguished from both patriarchy, which neglects the equality of the sexes, and egalitarianism, which neglects clear Scriptural role distinctions.

Scripture affirms the equality of men and women in regards to worth, nature, and substance. This means that man and woman are essentially, naturally, and substantially equal before God and each other. Any interpretation of the biblical text must be free from misogyny or unwarranted and naïve assumptions of male dominance or superiority. This is made clear in such passages as Genesis 1:27, Galatians 3:28, 1 Peter 3:7, Joel 2:28.

MARRIAGE

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh … What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” Matthew 19:5-6

We believe marriage is the God ordained covenant relationship between one biological man and one biological woman. This relationship, created by God, exists for God’s glory, humanity’s good, and for the beautiful display of the gospel of Jesus toward His church. It is clear from Scripture that men and women are created equal. It is equally clear that men and women have distinct roles in the home and church. It is our belief that confusion of these roles will result not only in a sinful application of the Biblical text, but, consequently, diminished joy in our pursuit of Christ. The distinction within the home revolves around the idea of the headship of a man over his wife. This headship is not to be exercised in dominating or oppressive authority, but expressed in the spirit of servant leadership exhibited by Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:3-4). Such a pattern is seen in the following passages: Ephesians 5:22-25, 1 Corinthians 11:2-3, 8-9, Colossians 3:18-19, and Titus 2:3-5.

The husband is called to serve and sacrifice for his wife as an expression of his love for her. At the same time, the wife is called to submit to and respect her husband as an expression of her love for him. In this way they complement each other. Likewise, man and woman have some level of distinction within the context of the church. The texts upon which these distinctions are based include: 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, 1 Timothy 2:9-14.

As we understand the issue, there are certain contexts in which women are not allowed to teach (1 Timothy 2:12). This prohibition cannot be universal, however, as Paul specifically calls for older women to teach younger women (Titus 2:3-4). Indeed, we even have an example of a woman teaching a man in the story of Priscilla and Apollos (Acts 18:26). We interpret these passages to mean that women should not teach from the pulpit to a mixed adult audience. By implication, no cooperating Redeemer church should have a woman pastor.

ORDINANCES

There are two essential ordinances that mark the local church.

Baptism: “Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …” Matthew 28:19

Baptism is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior. Immersion under water during baptism symbolizes the believer’s death to sin, burial of the old life, and resurrection to walk in newness of life through the combined work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We celebrate baptism regularly and publicly as people in the church confess Jesus Christ as Lord, repent of their sins, and desire to be baptized. Baptism following salvation is a command of Jesus, not an optional step of Christian dedication.

Lord’s Supper: “In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:25-26

The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience. Observance of the Lord’s Supper should include a fencing of the table, meaningful time of personal confession of sin, reflection on the cross of Jesus, and on the second coming of Jesus. Concerning the Lord’s Supper, there are three primary reasons we encourage the celebration of the Lord’s Supper at least once per month:

  • We believe this was the practice of the early Christian church and seek to model our ministry after them (Acts 2:42-47; Acts 20:7).
  • We believe that the regular observation of the Lord’s Supper helps lead us to continual repentance both corporately and individually (Matthew 5:23-24; 1 Cor. 11:27-32).
  • We believe that the observance of the Lord’s Supper should always be intentional, reflective, and not rushed.
CHURCH STEWARDSHIP

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

We believe the resources of our churches are the property of Jesus Christ, the head of the church. We serve as stewards of those resources. Church resources should be used for the purposes of building Jesus’ church and spreading His Gospel. This means that to the maximum extent practical, our churches should keep unnecessary operating expenses to a minimum to allow the local congregation to prioritize their monetary attention on the mission God has laid before us. This may mean that we sacrifice our own personal comforts for the sake of being good stewards of God’s resources for His glory. These include, but are not limited to: future church planting, orphan and widow care, physical needs of the congregation, and physical needs of the local community. In order for a church to give full attention to the ministry of the Word we believe that, when possible and necessary, churches should provide a fair salary for her pastor(s).

MEMBERSHIP

“Now there were in the church at Antioch …” Acts 13:1

We believe that it is Biblical for individual Christians to submit themselves to the affirmation and oversight of a local church. God’s Word teaches that churches are to be made up of bornagain Christians who assemble weekly to preach the Bible, celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the dead, to help one another grow in Christlikeness, and to war against worldliness and sin. Christians are to submit themselves to one another out of reverence for Christ and to maintain a credible profession of faith before the elders and members of their local church. It is clear that God’s plan for his church is that Christians belong to a local covenant community of faith. By doing this they are subjecting themselves to be obedient to their leaders and submitting to their authority (Hebrews 13:17). The church is like a family (1 Timothy 3:15), like a body (1 Corinthians 12), and like a bride (Ephesians 5:22-23). If the church is a family, a Christian without a church is a spiritual orphan. If the church is a body, a Christian without a church is like a hand without an arm. If the church is a bride, a Christian without a church is alone.

In our churches, membership is not something that is taken lightly. We seek to have meaningful membership so that we can help those who formally identify themselves as “the church” in their walk with Christ. Therefore, it is imperative that potential members; (1) Attend a new member class to help them understand the purpose, responsibilities, and accountability of church membership. Here prospective new members will come to understand the membership commitment to give of their time, talents, and resources. (2) That an elder interview each in-coming member to confirm their authentic testimony of salvation. (3) Confirm that each in-coming member has been baptized after believing in Jesus for salvation. (4) Recite the church covenant in some public and meaningful way.

Cooperating churches have the freedom to admit Christians that are from a Protestant Christian background and have been baptized as infants in that tradition. This exception for membership will be decided by each local church on a case-by-case basis and does not change, or lessen, our doctrinal commitment to believer’s baptism by immersion as the pattern and command given in the New Testament.

The elders of every local church have been assigned the task of shepherding the people of the church (1 Peter 5:1-5). This is partially accomplished through church membership. Elders cannot shepherd if they don’t know who is a part of their church membership. Elders are also told to discipline those who blatantly rebel against God. It is difficult to accomplish the Matthew 18 process of church discipline without meaningful church membership.

[1] Matthew 28:18-20

[2] Matt. 16:13-20; 18:15-20; John 10:16; Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; 6.1-8; Gal. 5:1; Eph. 1:22; 2:19-22; 3:21; 5:23; 1 Tim. 3:1-15; 5:17-18; Tit. 1:5-9; Heb. 10:25; 2 John 2