When the church was born in Acts 2:44, Scripture tells us, "All who believed were together and had all things in common." Acts 2:46-47 tells us, "Day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all people." The good news of Jesus Christ unites people of all ages, races, backgrounds, and interests. The church community is supernatural because it brings together people whom you would never expect to be brought together. Our community group ministry helps us live this out in the here and now through inter-generational small groups that meet in homes around St. Rose every week for Bible study, prayer, and fellowship.
The early church devoted or committed themselves to the fellowship of the church. When God describes the church in the Scriptures, he describes it as a spiritual family of God the Father, the body of God the Son, and the temple of God the Spirit. Each word picture conveys a deep interconnectedness and joined togetherness of local churches. The Bible also teaches that church members have a responsibility to hold one another accountable in their walk with God. (1 Cor. 5) They also have a responsibility to follow their particular church leaders. (Heb. 13:17-) Because of this, we believe that church membership is meaningful. Local churches are communities of Christians that covenant together to love one another, serve one another, encourage one another, forgive one another, and build one another up. To ensure that we understand this commitment, we have a 6-week membership class that all potential members walk through. We also sign a church covenant together that outlines our beliefs and promises to one another.
The Apostles appointed leaders in every church and they called these leaders elders, overseers, or pastors. In our church culture, we have most commonly called these leaders pastors, but the most common term in the Bible is "elder". (Acts 14:23; 20:17, 28-30; Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Pt. 5:1-5) Our church is committed to the Biblical leadership of a plurality of elders, meaning multiple pastors who loving lead, teach, and oversee the church together. Some of these pastors are paid by the church as staff, but others serve as volunteers. All are assessed and affirmed by the congregation as leaders who have met the spiritual qualifications found in 1 Tim. 3:1-7.
Apart from our elders, our church is also led by servant-leaders called deacons. These are men and women who are not charged with teaching, overseeing, or shepherding the whole congregation, rather they serve over specific areas of ministry. Some serve as paid church staff and others serve as volunteers. All are assessed and affirmed by the congregation as servants who have met the spiritual qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.
The Apostle Paul writes, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching." (2 Tim. 3:16) Because we believe this wholeheartedly, it is the normal pattern of our weekly teaching to take up whole books of the Bible and to teach them through verse-by-verse and sentence-by-sentence. It is our aim in all of our teaching at the church not to teach our own ideas, but to expose from the Scriptures what God has already said in the Scriptures.
God designed music to help us express and reflect upon the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus. When we gather on Sunday's you will find that our songs are selected with care. Each song is a response of praise based off of Biblically rich truth expressed in the song itself. We care less about the style of music, and more about the truth of the music which means we sing both old hymns and new songs on a Sunday morning. You will also find that the music is not extremely complex, difficult to sing, nor are the worship leaders on the stage turned up very loud. This is all intentional. The most beautiful sound resonating from our church building on Sunday mornings is not from the "professionals" on stage, rather it is the unified voice of the whole congregation glorifying the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. 15:6) On Sunday evenings, we meet back together to worship through specifically prayer. We have times of large group prayer and small group prayer where God is both praised for his good gifts and petitioned for our physical and spiritual needs.
In the first Christian church of Acts 2:42-47, "the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." Everything we do is for the fulfillment of the great commission to make disciples of Jesus Christ in all nations and it starts right here in our community. We try to stay away from doing too many programs so that our church members are freed up to do the work of disciple-making in their spheres of influence. Every church member is responsible for both sharing the message of Jesus with unbelievers and showing newer believers how to follow Jesus in day-to-day life. This happens organically in neighborhoods, at restaurants, workplaces, in families, and in our church. It also happens programmatically through organized ministries of mercy, children's ministry, youth ministry, membership class, and our monthly Bible Institute where we equip the church with teachings on special topics.
While our mission starts in our community, it does not end there. With 2 billion people in the world who have little to no access to the good news of forgiveness by faith in Jesus and with a command by Jesus himself to go and make disciples of all nations, it is our mission as a church to send as many people and resources as possible to make the name of Jesus known in unreached and under-resourced places. We pray, give, and go so that more might be witnesses to the saving power of Jesus to the ends of the earth. We have an ongoing partnership with a church in Southeast Asia and are working to establish more partnerships in other countries as the Spirit leads.
It is not our aim to grow one great big church in our community of St. Rose, LA, rather it is our desire to be a multiplying community of disciples that seeks to plant new churches in new communities in need of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God expands his kingdom by launching new churches who will focus on ministering in particular communities of people. This means that we are always about the work of raising up young pastors for future churches and we are always preparing church members to leave the comforts of their way of life to help start a new church in a new place. This also means that we are always listening for the leading of God's Spirit and for when he might open a door and set apart a group of people for the work to which God has called them. (Acts 13:2-3)