- How long has the church been meeting?
- Where and when does the church meet?
- Who provides the systematic teaching?
- What is taught in your regular meetings?
- How are elders appointed?
- Is this church associated with any other churches?
- Isn’t it difficult to bring the whole family together especially with very young children?
- Without a Sunday school program how do you foster in depth Bible Study for each member?
- Is there a place in the assembly for new believers who are single (especially single females)?
- Does family integrated mean everyone’s a homeschooler?
- Do women have the same opportunities to participate as men?
- What kind of church programs do you offer?
- How does the Church seek to meet Christ’s commands for evangelism?
- How does the church make day-to-day decisions?
- Without expenses of paid staff and buildings, what do you do with money collected?
- What are you doing about facilities?
- How do the fellowship meals work?
- What is the background of the founders & teaching elders?
- Are you credobaptist or paedobaptist? Reformed or fundamentalist? Or ???
- Can we visit?
- What is your perspective with respect to being under the authority of the elders?
How long has the church been meeting?
Our first official meeting as GCF was Sunday 13-Apr-2014. We are a church plant from Southwest Wake Christian Assembly which started in 2002.
Where and when does the church meet?
We meet in the Spiritual Twist Productions theater building at 1250 Aversboro Rd in Garner, NC, Sundays at 10:15am. Click here for directions. On extremely rare occasions, we may cancel church for inclement weather or some other emergency, so feel free to contact us before your visit. After service, we have a potluck lunch. Visitors are welcome to eat with us!
Who provides the systematic teaching?
Our elders are the primary teachers for the systematic teaching. At the moment we have one elder. Deacons may also occasionally teach. Some teach more than others as gifts and time permit. Deacons who teach have been elder-approved as qualified and above reproach.
What is taught in your regular meetings?
The majority of the teaching is expositional, going through a book of the Bible over the course of several Sundays. On occasion we will take a break from the current book we’ve been studying to teach on a specific Biblical topic or do an overview of another book of the Bible. Upcoming topics/passages are announced ahead of time so the congregation can do their own study before the sermon if they want.
How are elders appointed?
The qualifications of elders are clear from Scripture (Titus 1:5-9, 1 Tim 3:1-7). The church from which GCF was planted (SWCA) appointed its elders by general agreement of the original members of the congregation of who met these Biblical qualifications and had the desire and capacity for the job. The initial elders of GCF were appointed by these SWCA elders and confirmed by the heads of household of GCF. Now that GCF is an independent body, we appoint our own new elders as the Lord raises up qualified individuals from within the body. Prospective elders must first demonstrate a clear track record that meets the biblical qualifications and receive the endorsement of the current elders and deacons. Heads of household in GCF then have several weeks to ask questions and decide whether they agree with the new appointment. Once we’re confident that a prospective elder meets the approval of the current elders and deacons and heads of household, the body lays hands on them, prays over them, and commissions them as an elder.
Elders serve indefinitely until they decide to take some voluntary time off (in agreement with the other elders), step down, or are removed due to the legitimate exercise of church discipline. According to 1 Peter 5:1-3, eldership is a voluntary position, and elders are to be an example. When it is no longer voluntary, or an elder is no longer an example of the biblical qualifications, they should no longer hold the office.
Is this church associated with any other churches?
Not officially. We greatly desire mutual accountability with leaders of like-minded assemblies, and have participated in joint meetings with other local bodies. That said, we currently have no formal arrangement with any other church. We have and will continue to pursue accountability and fellowship relationships with other bodies both local and outside our area. Our elders are committed to accountability to each other, the men of this church, and various godly men outside of the local body. We have connections with and seek counsel of many church leaders. Some of whom are associated with the The Council for Family-Integrated Churches and National Center for Family-Integrated Churches. Though we are church plant from Southwest Wake Christian Assembly, we do not have any strings attached other than heart strings.
Isn’t it difficult to bring the whole family together especially with very young children?
We love our family-integrated format, but we understand that it takes some getting used to for some. We believe the long-term value of worshipping and learning together far outweighs the challenges of parenting during the service or listening to the sermon over someone else’s noisy child. Children are capable of absorbing far more than our culture tends to give them credit for, so rather than dumbing down content for the kids in the room, we strive to teach in a way that is stimulating for both adults and children.
We expect a certain amount of background noise, so visitors shouldn’t feel self conscious if their kid makes some noise. We do have “overflow” areas where parents can choose to take their kids if they need to.
Without a Sunday school program how do you foster in depth Bible Study for each member?
We are focused on training heads of households and their families together as a unit instead of disconnected individuals, which will give the family the opportunity to work out their discipleship journey together as a unified group. We organize ourselves so that there is regular leadership contact with heads of households to encourage them in their roles. Learn more about our discipleship program here.
Is there a place in the assembly for new believers who are single (especially single females)?
Absolutely. If they are looking for singles groups, etc. we’re not going to have those kind of programs. Instead we offer a model of a family of families. If they desire healthy family relationships, they should feel extremely welcome. Living in a household which includes father, mother, and children is by no means a prerequisite of being a part of this church. In fact, we desire that all would recognize the church as a household of households, recognizing that households come in a variety of shapes and the Lord’s body includes many and varied parts.
Does “family-integrated” mean everyone’s a homeschooler?
Nope! To homeschool or not to homeschool is just one decision among many that families in our particular historical/cultural moment must make for themselves. Scriptures teach that parents are the primary teachers of their children and are responsible for their training. Many who have applied this principle, combined with the general principle of discipling (“follow me as I follow Christ”) have decided that homeschooling their children is the form that will best enable them to apply these principles. However, homeschooling is not a prerequisite for being a part of this church.
Do women have the same opportunities to participate as men?
The Bible has much to say about the crucial role women have played and continue to play in God’s family. For example, we see women participating in the life and ministry of Jesus, Sarah and the virtuous woman in I Peter 3:1-6, the Proverbs 31 woman, Lydia in the New Testament (Acts 16:14-15, etc.), Nabal’s (and then David’s) wife Abigail I Sam 25:26-38, Gen 2:18, Eph 5:23, I Tim 2:12, 3:1-13, I Tim 5:14, Titus 2:3-5. 1 Cor. 14 clearly demonstrates that both men and women contribute when the church is gathered together. To honor the pattern we see the apostles lay out in the New Testament, we reserve authoritative instruction for men who have received the laying-on-of hands for teaching responsibilities (elders and teachers). Learn more in our practices.
What kind of church programs do you offer?
Instead of creating a portfolio of church building based programs, the leadership team strives to fan the flame of the ministries of the members in their areas of gifting and influence.
How does the Church seek to meet Christ’s commands for evangelism?
For world missions, we seek to support natives of foreign countries who are doing the work of Christ as well as others who may be ministering in unique ways in foreign fields. We encourage our members to seek and fulfill God’s specific role for them in world missions. We currently support a missionary family sent by our church to Southeast Asia.
On the home front, we direct our efforts toward neighborhoods, family to family and workplace evangelism. The work of evangelism in our homes (bringing the lost souls of our children to Christ), and in our neighborhoods are a central focus of our equipping efforts, so that the head of the household is equipped to lead the family to evangelize friends and neighbors and co-workers. We encourage the members to seek out those who do not know Christ in their areas of influence including neighborhoods, workplaces and among the fatherless.
How does the church make day-to-day decisions?
Decisions are made through our elders who are accountable to the congregation to always be true to Scripture. Leadership is shared among a group of mutually accountable elders who also seek congregational input for decision making in key areas of church life. Of course, there are always administrative details to work out. The elders oversee these, but often delegate these tasks to others as needed to qualified Deacons (see Acts 6:1-6, 1 Timothy 3:8-13).
Without expenses of paid staff and buildings, what do you do with money collected?
We have a small amount of assets: hymnals, chairs, etc. and expenses such as paper plates, etc. We also incur some maintenance expenses (such as cleaning services) in homes we use or buildings we rent. However, the vast majority of funds are used to support various ministries. Significant among them is the support of widows and fatherless, as well as those who are afflicted, as the Lord brings them to our body. Other expenses may include support for ministries that minister to the fatherless and widows in manners consistent with Christian principles and promote the gospel. We also support individuals and organizations that promote the gospel and disciple making and are like-minded in promoting biblical churches and families. These are decided on a case-by-case basis and the books will be open (with respect to expenses) to everyone in the body of Christ. Over the first four years of the church, less than ten percent of our funds have been used for facilities, assets and consumables (paper plates, etc.) and we pray that this will not increase in the future. Gifts can also be designated to the elders. Elders sometimes present opportunities for special offerings designated to some specific need.
What are you doing about facilities?
Currently, rented facilities and our homes are sufficient to practically meet in on a regular basis. Meeting in the homes offer many blessings including the immediate and obvious example of hospitality. We have so far been blessed to have areas for overflow for parents whose children are not ready to sit through an extended teaching time without distracting others. We’ve also been able to provide places for babies to sleep during nap time. We are committed to “multiply” whenever the church becomes too big to have real relationships and “the one anothers”.
How do the fellowship meals work?
We don’t want the meal to detract from the experience of God’s gift of rest and fellowship, so we advise the following:
- The church will supply water to drink, plates, and utensils
- Please don’t bring any desserts unless it’s a special occasion like a birthday
- Bring enough food to share, but keep it simple, e.g. Crockpot meal, Casserole, Sandwiches, Salad, whatever is convenient.
- Guests are not expected to bring food, but will be encouraged to join us… there is always plenty of food.
What is the background of the elders?
Jay Hess and his wife Linda have a large family but their children are all grown and now have families of their own. Jay is retired from IBM and spends his day in ministry to his wife, to GCF and to helping people deceived by the cults. Jay has been an associate member of the Evangelical Theological Society for a couple of decades and keeps up with their annual conferences. Prior to their conversion to Christianity they were both involved with the religious group the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Are you credobaptist or paedobaptist?
Our practice is to baptize those who profess faith in Christ. We wouldn’t break fellowship with someone or look down on them for baptizing their infant, but it’s not our practice to perform infant baptism.
Can we visit?
Yes! All are welcome to join us on Sunday morning and stay for a potluck lunch.
What is your perspective with respect to being under the authority of the elders?
The elders of GCF advise the flock and keep order, looking out for the best interests of everyone, and remembering that God will hold the leaders to a higher level of accountability (James 3:1). On rare occasions, the elders may need to resolve a conflict in the body in a way that not everyone agrees with. The elders are mere humans and may err, so we bear no grudges if a decision provokes someone to leave. However, we encourage the congregation to be patient when there is disagreement and see if the elders’ direction proves to be wise. As it is written, “obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” (Heb 13:17 – NASB). Christ is the head of the church and every believer. The elders are merely overseers. Read more in our Shepherding Guidelines.
For answers to additional questions or more information, please contact us at 919-989-9495.