The following is a series of answers to questions that are frequently asked by those interested in the church. These answers are based on either “current thoughts” or “experiences of other similar churches” and are subject to change over time. Additional questions/answers may also be added as they come up.
- 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?
- How large will the assembly be before creating multiple assemblies (multiple services)?
- Is there a place in the assembly for new believers who are single (especially single females)?
- What groups are you targeting?
- Is there a place in the assembly for people who do not homeschool their children?
- With the emphasis on Biblical manhood and the head of the household, what about ministry to women?
- What kind of church programs do you offer?
- How does the Church foster fellowship when you meet only once per week?
- 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?
- How do you refrain from becoming reclusive?
- What are you doing about facilities?
- What about youth groups?
- What about youth who are not in a church family?
- Why can’t you do this in an existing church?
- How do you get the word out and seek those who might be interested in the ministry?
- 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?
The initial meeting of the church was Sunday 13-Apr-2014. GCF is a church plant from Southwest Wake Christian Assembly which started meeting on Sunday, 31-March-2002.
Where and when does the church meet?
We are currently meeting in the Christian Youth Theater building at 1250 Aversboro Rd in Garner, NC. Click here for directions. If you are not on our mailing list and would like to visit, please call ahead to verify that we are meeting there as we occasionally meet in other places due to scheduling conflicts. Our meetings normally start at 10:00 AM on Sunday morning and end with a (simple, pot-luck style) fellowship meal which we consider an integral part of our meetings.
Who provides the systematic teaching?
Our elders are the primary teachers for the systematic teaching. Some teach more than others as gifts and time permit. Jay Hess coordinates and schedules teachers as appropriate. It seems clear from the Scriptures that there are teaching elders and also teachers who are not necessarily elders (but are held to high standards). So, we do the same… elders could teach and other teachers (approved by elders) could teach.
What is taught in your regular meetings?
The majority of the teaching will be a connected sequence of “expositions” of passages of Scripture (we’ve been working our way through the Bible… switching from Old Testament books to New Testament books occasionally) with occasional “topical” messages from Scripture. General topics/passages will be announced ahead of time so heads of households can have the option of preparing their family ahead of time in their family worship time. Alternatively, heads of households will be encouraged to reinforce what is taught on Sunday throughout the week. Although we certainly promote “household order”, the focus of our teaching will be the Scriptures as it all tells of our Lord Jesus Christ to whom all families are subject.
How are elders appointed?
The qualifications of elders are clear from Scripture (Titus 1:5-9, 1 Tim 3:1-7), but how are they appointed? Scripture seems to indicate that they were proven to have those qualities. It also seems reasonable to think that appointment is generally an acknowledgement by men of what is already occurring. Since we no longer have an Apostle like Paul to make the official appointment after determining who is “elder material”, the initial elders have been appointed by general agreement of the initial members of the assembly. Additional elders have been appointed by those elders based on recognition of who the Lord is raising up, and affirmed by the heads of households.
Elders serve an indefinite term until they decide to take some voluntary time off for personal reasons, (in agreement with the other elders), step down because of reluctance to continue, or are removed due to the legitimate exercise of church discipline. We see nothing in the Scripture that would indicate an elder is a “fixed-term office” or that it should be. We also see little about when an eldership should end. According to 1 Peter 5:1-3, it is a voluntary position, and that elders are to be an example. When it is no longer voluntary, or an elder is no longer an example of the elder qualification listed above, it would seem that this man should no longer hold the office.
Is this church associated with any other churches?
We greatly desire mutual accountability with leaders of like-minded (and some less-like-minded) assemblies, and have participated in joint meetings with other local bodies. This document, in its various stages has been reviewed by many brothers, many of whom are church leaders in both “family-integrated” (see National Center for Family-Integrated Churches) and “non-family-integrated” churches. However, 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. We do not believe there is any biblical basis for a church hierarchy, so we don’t have one. 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?
This format poses new challenges to parents who are not used to being in Bible study and worship meetings with their children, particularly since we live in a society that almost always separates families for activities like this, and there is an underlying feeling that children can receive nothing from worship services because of their age. We believe the long-term value will be greater than the short-term difficulty parents will experience as they learn to worship and learn together. Parents will have the privilege of training their children to hear and respond to God’s Word and to honor the other people in the room by their quiet and respectful behavior. We realize this is not an easy task and it will require patience.
Parents will be provided with teaching and tools to help their children understand the theological concepts presented during the gatherings. We encourage the heads of households to elaborate and complete the ideas presented, even to young children. We recognize that they will not understand all of it, but also believe and have seen that exposing them to these concepts often goes far deeper than we might first suspect.
We realize that our culture does not support the idea that children can understand complex ideas at young ages and that parents are not qualified to teach. We reject this notion and believe that a rich transfer of truth can be accomplished during and after the services.
We also believe that even though very young children may not understand everything that is said or done, they can understand something very valuable as they see the head of their household truly honoring and adoring God in worship and enthusiastically studying His Word.
We expect a certain amount of background noise, and arrange “overflow” areas whenever possible to allow young children who are disruptive to be taken to be trained while they remain restless.
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 are also about the training of men as individuals who will make it their aim to teach God’s Word in their homes everyday. This is the main source of in depth Bible Study for our members (Eph 6:4, Deut 6:6-9). We also organize ourselves so that there is regular leadership contact with heads of households to encourage them in their roles.
In the cases where there is no man in the household, we will work with individuals as appropriate in addition to the regular meeting and other occasional meetings of the church.
How large will the assembly be before creating multiple assemblies (multiple services)?
The reality is that we don’t have a number in mind. It depends on a lot of things. Two things that are obvious are that we need to have leaders and need to have space to meet. We’re assuming the Lord will provide both, but we need to do our part to prepare. As we train and encourage men to be the spiritual leaders of their homes, we expect that some will become capable of being spiritual leaders of the church. Already, this has proven true.
On January 14, 2007, Chatham Christian Assembly, a church plant from SWCA, began meeting with Darren Eck and Geoff Bright having been sent to go out as the elders, and several other families being blessed to join them.
On April 6, 2014, SWCA purposely multiplied into two new church bodies – our church body which is Grace Christian Fellowship of Johnston County, and Grace International Fellowship which meets in Raleigh.
We do not have to have immediate plans for further subdividing/multiplying, but we have ongoing discussions about options that we think are valid so that we are not caught unprepared when the time comes. We expect this will happen well before we have 150+ adults.
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. If they don’t know what they are looking for, we hope they will see something similar to what they are learning about in the Bible. We suspect that many new believers who have never been part of a “modern/traditional/institutional” church might be more excited about our assembly than most “modern/traditional/institutional” churches. This, of course, is dependent upon the real life of the body rather than the form it uses at its meetings.
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.
To confirm these thoughts, we currenlty have several members who do not live in a home where the father is present. We have had other “singles” who have joined us temporarily while business or education opportunities have brought them to the area. They confirm that they feel extremely welcome in this family of families.
What groups are you targeting?
Everyone. Some might suggest that this format would only be attractive to homeschoolers. We feel we should also be attractive to families who school their children in other school systems since we will offer an opportunity that does not exist for them in most churches and other social structures to bring the whole family together for worship and instruction. Families with children who are not yet “school age”, families with grown children, and individuals and families without children all need a family of families that desire to live godly lives.
Is there a place in the assembly for people who do not homeschool their children?
Certainly. 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. The principles of parental training and discipling will be taught, as consistently as possible by broken vessels in God’s hands, in word and action. We certainly recognize that God calls people in all sorts of circumstances to Himself and progressively sanctifies us. God seems to tailor that sanctification process to the individual. Homeschooling may or may not be part of that sanctification process for any particular individual or family whom God calls to this church.
With the emphasis on Biblical manhood and the head of the household, what about ministry to women?
We continue to cast a clear Biblical vision for godly femininity and raise up many wives and daughters to exemplify the most compelling virtues of their calling as daughters of their King. In contrast to the cultural assault of feminism and egalitarianism in the church, you will see us present a rich theology regarding the Biblical roles of women. A look at passages regarding the vigorous and effective women in the Bible would help to define some of the roles women played in redemptive history. i.e., 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.
What kind of church programs do you offer?
Instead of creating a portfolio of church building based programs, the leadership team will attempt to fan the flame of the ministries of the members in their areas of gifting and influence.
How does the church foster fellowship when you meet only once per week?
The Sunday meeting is designed for a large amount of time that includes worship, instruction, discussion among families and members about the implications of the scriptural teaching. A meal with fairly open-ended fellowship follows. We expect that “informal” small group ministries would emerge as needed to meet needs that are communicated as others have opportunity to minister. However, we believe these small groups will typically be extremely small and temporary to address particular areas of discipleship. We will focus on the needs of the individuals rather than the maintenance of programs.
Additionally, we have regular regional small group meetings to foster more in depth study, worship and relationships among believers. These small groups are led by the elders and meet 2-4 times a month in homes.
Other events designed for fathers and sons, mothers and daughters and men and women are sometimes scheduled for further equipping.
We encourage families to walk together during the week whether in work situations, hospitality at one anothers homes, or small groups that meet for a particular purpose.
How does the Church seek to meet Christ’s commands for evangelism?
Several methods are and will be employed through both “world missions” and “home missions”.
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. We support, in a variety of ways, Go and Reconcile Ministries including short-term trips to support indigenous key leaders on other continents.
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.
The work of evangelism and disciple making is central to the focus of the universal church and we will constantly encourage one another to make the Cross of Christ the central focus of our households. We are not intending to hold a significant number of evangelistic meetings, but will rely on the members to be the evangelists and disciple makers in their spheres of influence. We continue to learn together how to more effectively use our homes in practicing hospitality for evangelism and disciple making.
We realize that one who does not evangelize and make disciples at home and at work will not be equipped to evangelize and make disciples overseas.
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. The primary role of elders is not to create programs, but to come alongside heads of households and equip them in their primary ministry as well as other ministries God is calling them to. We encourage these family ministers to make decisions that affect their family ministry.
Of course, there are always administrative details to work out. The elders oversee these, but often delegate these tasks to others. Because of the simple model of our church, these administrative details are relatively few.
When these details become a distraction to the elders, we place them in the hands of biblically qualified Deacons (see Acts 6:1-6, 1 Timothy 3:8-13).
During transitional times, if there are not multiple elders, there will be a leadership team in place to help make necessary decisions and hold a single elder accountable. A lone elder would not have access to the bank account during such times. Also, no person is able to write themselves a check for more than $50, even if they have signature authority.
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 and will be used to support various ministries. Significant among them will be 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.
How do you refrain from becoming reclusive?
It is difficult to be reclusive as we focus on evangelistic ministry in our neighborhoods and workplaces and take a proactive role among the fatherless and widows. See Isaiah 1:17, James 1:27. We also believe that men are hungry to know how to be the head of their households and that many men (even unbelievers) from the community will be drawn to our vision to train men how to provide Biblical leadership in their homes. Similarly, our focus on world missions and God’s call to reach the nations will keep us outwardly focused.
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 (sometimes a room with an audio/video feed) 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. Meeting in homes works exceptionally well. It seems that the early church typically met in homes, and we’ve seen that they are still excellent places to meet today.
We are committed to “multiply” whenever the church becomes too big to have real relationships and “the one anothers” but we’re also convinced that the maximum size with which we can do so is potentially larger than fits in most of our current homes comfortably. We’re certainly willing to deal with a little inconvenience for a little while, but don’t feel that we should force that on anybody… being cramped is not “next to godliness”. As God has raised up an abundance of leadership, and we have continued to grow with people coming from as far west as Pittsboro and Mebane, as far east as Clayton and Four Oaks, as far south as Angier and Lillington, and as far north as Morrisville, we are exploring ways to meet in multiple geographic locations.
We commissioned two of our elders (Geoff Bright and Darren Eck) to begin meeting along with several others from the church as Chatham Christian Assembly . They began meeting in Chatham County on January 14th, 2007. We expect and hope this will not be the last multiplication, though we are not talking seriously about any specific multiplications at this time.
We will use community buildings or other facilities (We have been meeting at Wake Christian Academy since January of 2005) that might be available on Sundays whenever we go beyond our practical capacity in our homes. All we need is one big room and it would be great to have some kitchen facilities. Any ideas would be most welcome. We think it is critical to avoid any long-term leases and we don’t see any reason to even consider buying a building unless it was for a song or is purchased by someone for private use and leased to the church on a flexible basis when needed. The Lord has always been faithful to address this issue for us.
What about youth groups?
Every head of household is a youth minister.
The general practice of separating youth from their parents in the church at a time when they desperately need to be in the family context to learn how to honor and obey their parents is producing negative results. We also believe that the family should be in training together and not as individuals more often than not. People are drawn naturally to their peers and there can be benefits to the comaradery that can occur. Mutual encouragement from peers is always good if the peers are encouraging each other in the right things. Maturity is best learned from the mature.
We submit that what we commonly call “adolescence” has become a socially acceptable way to keep a teen in a delayed maturation process and does not acknowledge the great positive impact youth can have. Instead of sidelining youth in peer groups, we will strive to put them in the place of leadership and service alongside mature adults. We also believe that since “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child” that concentrating this foolishness in youth group gatherings is not the best way to train the next generation.
What about youth who are not in a church family?
We will encourage families to open their hearts and homes to these youth and bring them into their discipleship program.
Why can’t you do this in an existing church?
This is a very different church structure and format compared to the vast numbers of churches in the United States. To ask for such a dramatic shift in structure and format might be counterproductive to the ministries of the existing churches and might subvert the good things happening in them. Although we encourage all churches to consider the issues we are raising, we believe such changes in existing bodies will typically happen a little at a time. (For more information on transitioning traditional churches, see the book Uniting Church & Home by Eric Wallace and the website for the ministry of the same name).
We also believe these are desperate times, as families are separated and fragmented in every endeavor in the culture including the church. At the same time there is a systematic breakdown of the family within the church as well as in secular society. Our culture has almost completely lost a memory of what it means to be a father and mother and how to provide loving leadership in the home, and fulfill basic Biblical roles and responsibilities. These desperate times call for purposeful measures. The rate of change in existing local churches is likely to be slow, and we feel that the time is now for restructuring the church to bring families together and to give family members every opportunity to turn their hearts toward one another for the glory of God.
Over time, some from a structure like ours will be called to be part of the ‘typical’ structure – to be a catalyst for change. In recent years, we have learned of many churches that have begun to add ‘family-integrated’ aspects to their events and programs.
How do you get the word out and seek those who might be interested in the ministry?
Our families talk about this to people in their neighborhoods and other places of influence. They share what the scripture teaches about church and other issues as well as the vision of this church with their neighbors and friends and invite them to join if they are not already involved in a Bible-centered local church body. We get some interest from people who are already “in between churches” and hope to continue to add others that are new converts. We occasionally get visitors who are pointed to our website which is registered in the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches directory. Like the early church, we endeavor to rely on word of mouth and the work of the Holy Spirit.
How do the fellowship meals work?
We REALLY try to make this as simple as possible and not have anyone sweat over this. The focus should be on the fellowship, not the food preparation. Therefore, we will be using the following guidelines:
- We will supply water to drink (easy and don’t have to worry about spills)
- Please don’t bring any desserts (or only on special occasions – like birthdays).
- Bring plenty of food to share, but keep it simple, e.g. Crockpot meal, Casserole, Sandwiches (even PB&J), Salad, whatever is convenient.
- Guests are not expected to bring food, but will be encouraged to join us… there is always plenty of food.
An added blessing is that you don’t have to prepare another significant meal after church is over on Sunday.
What is the background of the founders & 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? Reformed or fundamentalist? Or ???
Well, that depends on your definition of each of those terms. We will define each of these terms in the simplest form possible and then comment on our position with respect to them. We fully understand that many reading this may think this is a gross oversimplification of each of these terms and the issues surrounding them. To a certain extent, we agree. We attempt to address these only as the starting point of a conversation that we would be happy to continue in a different context.
- Credobaptist – Basically a credobaptist believes that baptism is for believers. The current elders have or plan on baptizing their children when they’ve professed faith in Christ. We believe that this is an outward symbol of a profession of a change that has already taken place. We do not believe that the act of baptism, in and of itself, does anything to save a person. If someone who has been baptized after a profession of belief in Christ began walking in a manner that did not bring glory to God, we would attempt to use the steps of church discipline/restoration, and if they refused to listen, would treat them as an unbeliever.If someone professed themselves as a believer in Christ but refused to be baptized, we would question their reasoning and their biblical basis for this refusal. However, we also understand and respect that others can make a case from Scripture that they should baptize infants as a sign of a covenant and believe that once they have been baptized in this way there is no further need for “believer’s baptism”. Should someone wish to exercise infant baptism in our church, based on a case for doing so made from Scripture, we would certainly allow it and celebrate with them. We do not believe this issue needs to be a divisive issue (although we recognize that it often has been).
- Paedobaptist – Basically, a paedobaptist believes that baptism is a sign of a covenant, much like circumcision was a sign of a covenant in the Old Testament. Therefore, they believe that they should baptize everyone in their family from infant to adult once a parent determines that they wish their family to live as children of the King. The elders understand this reasoning and believe that each head of household should be fully convinced in his own mind how to lead his family in this issue. We would certainly be open to having members who held this view, as long as they agreed that this should not be a foundational and divisive issue in the church. We believe it is more important that individuals are living each day for the Lord and not try to use the ceremony of baptism as a litmus test for whether someone is a believer or not.
- Reformed – Do we agree with the doctrine of the reformers? Which reformers on which days? Basically the elders have no major issues with the Westminster Confession or London Baptist Confession so, that might make us “reformed”. However, we’d rather emphasize “The Great Commandment(s)” found in Scripture (Mark 12:28-31) than the first question in either the shorter or longer catechism. (Yes, we agree that the chief end of man is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever). Our position is that the reformers were godly, but fallible men and were not Christ or His Apostles. Therefore, we should not take anything one or more of them has said as authoritative, though it is very often extremely well thought out and considered sound doctrine. There are things the reformers missed, and there are things we’ll miss, too, if we think that some subset of them actually perfectly figured out everything there is to know about God’s plan for His church. Scripture is the source of truth, not the Westminster or London Baptist Confession. The elders have studied the London Baptist Confession and don’t agree with every word or the importance/emphasis on certain doctrines, but we do not think it would be fruitful to exhaustively critique it. However, we don’t think there is any heresy in this Confession and would be happy to discuss any of the sections with you.We adhere to the Nicene Creed, but we believe our principles and practices represent our doctrine better than any historic confession.
- Fundamentalist – The term fundamentalist literally means “one who adheres to the fundamentals”. We believe the most fundamental issues of the Christian faith are listed in our doctrinal statement. Our principles stated above add slightly more to that list. Neither is claimed to be an exhaustive list of fundamentals, but rather a list that we do not believe are open to serious debate among professing believers (though we will be happy to discuss why we think so with any who have not arrived at the same conclusion). If someone has a longer list of what they believe is fundamental, we’d be happy to discuss it with them. The elders certainly have strong convictions about things that are not listed here, as do many of our members. We believe we can disagree on certain things, as long as we agree that Scripture is our final authority and we are willing to grow in the knowledge of our Lord together by diligently seeking the answers to our questions there.
Can we visit?
We often get this question. Perhaps the question is raised because we are so different from many churches people picture an exclusive community. But the answer to the question is a resounding YES. In fact, if you are coming from out of town, we’d love to bless you by having you stay in one of our homes. This will allow you to really get to know the community that we have and encourage (and because God tells us in his word to practice hospitality and we have found the tremendous blessings that come from such obedience). Please contact us with as much notification of possible so we can make the best possible arrangements for you. If you are not coming from out of town, we’d still love to have you visit on a Sunday and perhaps share a meal with one or more of the families during the week for the same reason.
At the same time, if you want to visit because you are dissatisfied with your own local body, we would encourage you to discuss the issues with your current church leadership. We do not want to “divide the body”, which is Christ’s body. We would be the worst type of hypocrites if we were promoting the ideas of church and household order and, in any way, encouraged people to be disrespectful to the authorities that the Lord has currently placed them under. We believe people, especially God’s people, need to be under authority and to have a heart attitude of honor.
The best answer to this question is probably inferred by reading our Shepherding Guidelines. However the short answer is that we encourage people to recognize that God has placed authorities over them and the visible authority in the church is the elders. This is not the sort of authority that makes every decision for a person like a parent does for an infant, but rather the sort of authority that is recognizing that we are all in a battle against the flesh, the world, and the devil, and believes his role is to look out for those under them and help set those under them in a direction that will be best for them and the Kingdom of God. If a leader of a home will not put themselves under authority, but expects his children to submit to his authority, he is not practicing what he preaches and certainly not what our Lord, Jesus Christ preaches.
No, the elders of GCF will not (or, at least, probably should not) command you as to what time to wake up in the morning, who you must marry, where you should live, what you should wear, etc. They know the difference between advice and commands, and give a lot more of the former than the latter, especially when asked for the former. However, they are charged with giving an account for the sheep in their charge, as are the leaders at any church with which you might currently be associated. “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). They don’t own you, but they do own a responsibility toward you. We encourage folks to respect and honor that responsibility.
Christ is the head of the church and the head of every man. The elders are merely overseers.
For answers to additional questions or more information, please contact us at 919-989-9495.