Below are our “Principles that Guide Our Shepherding at GCF” (very briefly stated and imperfectly practiced but sincerely held):
1. For both growth and peace in the assembly, the saints (and especially the elders) must make every effort to emulate our Lord Jesus Christ who was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
2. Fullness of truth means that we should be willing to teach and discuss all passages of Scripture and all topics related to “life and godliness” to which the Scriptures speak, not avoiding even the most controversial, uncomfortable or self-condemning subjects. We must speak not only of the love of God but also of His holiness and the holiness He desires in His people. This is a joyous holiness because it is convicted (i.e., convinced in one’s own heart) by the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit, motivated out of a growing love for Christ, and rooted entirely in Scripture, not straying into a prideful legalism that goes beyond the Word of God.
3. Fullness of grace means that we should make every effort to deal humbly, charitably, peaceably, patiently, and tenderly with each precious saint for whom Christ died, leading the sheep without demanding of them, feeding the sheep without choking them. Humility, it seems, is the foundational virtue that produces gentle shepherding, just as pride is the fundamental vice that leads to tyranny.
4. Scripture is our sole and sufficient standard for Christian living and for pleasing Christ. Let your conscience be bound to the Scriptures alone, never to a creed, a confession, a denomination or a man.
5. The biblical role of the church and the goal of its ministry is to encourage and nurture the saints toward Christlikeness, not to pressure, demand or threaten Christ’s lambs. Though we do not withhold any truth of Scripture and its valid implications for belief or behavior, we leave the personal applications to the individual homes under the headship of the husband and the oversight of the Holy Spirit. The only matters that elders must be insistent about are immorality, heresy, divisiveness and orderliness of the church meeting.
6. No saint comes into the assembly as a “blank slate. “We all have a history, both positive and negative, which will color our perspective, how we hear truth and how we apply truth. Mature shepherds will take this into account in how they disciple the saints.
7. No shepherd is perfect in character or ability. So, he can best serve the Lord and His people in a plurality where his weaknesses are balanced by the strengths of his fellow elders AND by the input of other godly saints in the flock.