If you are a member or regular attendee at NC4, there is information on this page you will find helpful. If you run into any snags or need a specific questions answered, feel free to reach the receptionist at our main office via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NC4 ConnectYour Online Community
Connect with others at NC4 through a safe and secure portal. Choose exactly what you want private as well as how private you want your information. For example, home phone versus mobile; one might be visible to friends/group members while the other is only for church leadership. However, you can ALWAYS email someone through the system even if you can’t see their email address. Anyone who contacts the office for information will only be given what that person says is allowable.
- Update your own personal and family information
- Email NC4 church members & attendees without having to know their email address (& without having to reveal yours!).
- Identify some of your skills, abilities and spiritual gifts and find opportunities to use them
- Let our Sunday School teachers & childcare workers know about your children’s allergies
- Communicate with entire groups and ministry teams of which you are a part
- Look up your tithes and contributions so you can check your annual giving or if a particular check has been processed
Check out this helpful overview video to get a feel for the types of things NC4 Connect can help you do. You may hear us refer to this sometimes as “CCB” since the software company that developed it is Church Community Builder.
We’d love to help you connect and get plugged in. If you have a particular need, prayer request, or just want more information, you can fill out a Connection Card from the bulletin on Sunday morning or you can use the online card HERE. We’ll follow up with you ASAP.
At NC4 we strive to keep updated information on our partners and on those who choose to call NC4 their church home. Use the online form HERE or contact the church office.
The “Opt In” section allows you to decide whether or not you want to receive email messages (periodic updates on events of interest, announcements, etc.), and whether you want to receive text messages (reserved for special events, urgent announcements – like weather closings or delays, etc.).
Even if you choose not to opt-in, please provide us with basic contact information for each member of your family so that we can update our records.
TEXT NOTIFICATIONS OPT-IN
Receive occasional text notifications from NC4, such as: service delay/cancellation information due to inclement weather, ministry team notifications, and key NC4 event reminders.*
TO OPT-OUT, CONTACT THE OFFICE AT ANY TIME VIA EMAIL , OR CALL 610-861-7725 EXT 10
YOUR MOBILE CARRIER’S MESSAGE AND DATE RATES MAY APPLY.
NC4 will never sell, trade, rent, or license any personal or profile information collected or held via our database system.
MEDIA REQUEST FORM
The MEDIA REQUEST FORM is for church staff and church members to request media support for various ministry activities and events.
CSAP AUTHORIZATION FOR RELEASE OF BACKGROUND INFO
All Direct & Responsible Child/Youth Workers must fill out this form in compliance with NC4’s Child Protection Policies & Procedures, and PA state requirements for child care workers – CSAP Authorization for Release of Background Info
CSAP DIRECT & RESPONSIBLE CHILD/YOUTH WORKER FORM
All Direct & Responsible Child/Youth Workers must fill out this form in compliance with NC4’s Child Protection Policies & Procedures, and PA state requirements for child care workers – CSAP DIRECT & RESPONSIBLE CHILD/YOUTH WORKER FORM
CSAP OCCASIONAL AIDE/HALL MONITOR APPLICATION
All Occasional Child/Youth Workers (aides/hall monitors) must fill out this form in compliance with NC4’s Child Protection Policies & Procedures, and PA state requirements for child care workers – CSAP OCCASIONAL AIDE/HALL MONITOR APPLICATION
CSAP VOLUNTEER DISCLOSURE STATEMENT & FBI WAIVER
NC4 VOLUNTEER DISCLOSURE STATEMENT & REQUEST FOR WAIVER OF FBI FEDERAL CRIMINAL HISTORY FINGERPRINT RECORD CHECK
(For Direct & Responsible Child/Youth Workers who have lived in PA for 10 uninterrupted years) – CSAP VOLUNTEER DISCLOSURE STATEMENT & FBI WAIV
CSAP NC4 SUMMARY GUIDELINES & ANNUAL REVIEW FORM
TO BE COMPLETED BY ALL VOLUNTEERS SERVING IN YOUTH & CHILDREN’S MINISTRY AREAS:
Note: All forms are kept confidential
Position Papers & Resources
Our Doctrinal Statement
We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God
We believe there is only one God, eternally existent in three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost
We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father and in His personal return in power and glory
We believe for the salvation of lost and sinful men, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential
We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life
We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost, of them that are saved unto the resurrection of life, of them that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation
We believe in the spiritual unity of all believers in our Lord Jesus Christ
NC4's Position on Marriage & Divorce
A BIBLICAL VIEW OF MARRIAGE
NC4’s Position Concerning: MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE
A. Marriage is a Divine Institution
Contrary to some contemporary opinion, marriage is not a human institution that has evolved over the millennia to meet the needs of society. If it were no more than that, then conceivably it could be discarded when it is deemed no longer to be meeting those needs. Rather marriage is God’s idea, and human history begins with the Lord Himself presiding over the first wedding. (Genesis 2:18-25)
B. Marriage is to be regulated by Divine Instructions
Since God made marriage, it stands to reason that it must be regulated by His commands. In marriage, both husband and wife stand beneath the authority of the Lord. Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. (Psalm 127:1)
C. Marriage is a Divine Illustration
In both Old and New Testaments, marriage is used as the supreme illustration of the love relationship that God established with His people. Israel is spoken of as the wife of Jehovah (Isa. 54:5; Jer. 3:8; Hosea 2:19-20). The Church is called the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:22-32). It can be said that the Christian marriage is sort of a “pageant” in which the husband takes the part of the Lord Jesus, loving and leading his wife as Christ does the Church; and the wife plays the role of the believer, loving and submitting to her husband as the Christian does to the Lord. Thus, Christian marriage should be an object lesson in which others can see something of the divine- human relationship reflected. In the mystery of the two becoming one flesh, there is also a poignant reflection of the image of God. Marriage is a picture of the union of Father, Son and Holy Ghost being three in one.
D. Marriage is a Covenant
From the earliest chapters of the Bible, the idea of covenant is the framework by which man’s relationship to God is to be understood, and which also regulates the lives of God’s people. A covenant is an agreement between two parties, based upon mutual promises and solemnly binding obligations. It is like a contract, with the additional idea that it establishes personal relationships. God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants is summarized in the statement, “I will be your God, and you shall be my people.” Marriage is called a covenant (Mal. 2:14), the most intimate of all
human covenants. The key ingredient in a covenant is faithfulness, being committed irreversibly to the fulfillment of the covenant obligations. The most important factor in the marriage covenant is not romance, it is faithfulness to the covenant vows, even if the romance flickers. Marriage is not only a covenant between two people, but a covenant sealed by the sovereign activity of God: “What God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matt 19:6; cf Mk. 10:9)
E. Marriage is a Whole-Person Commitment – 100% & 100%
God meant marriage to be the total commitment of a man and woman to each other. It is not two solo performances, but a duet. In marriage, two people give themselves unreservedly to each other (Genesis 2:25; I Cor. 7:3,4). This means that one’s giving of oneself to the other is not contingent upon the performance of the other. Neither is it based upon one partner’s realized expectations of another.
F. What God has joined together let no man separate, declared our Lord (Matt. 19:6).
Till death do us part is not carry-over from old fashioned romanticism but a sober reflection of God’s intention regarding marriage (Rom 7:2,3; I. Cor. 7:39).
G. Marriage is the divinely planned unit for the building of Society.
Both in the Old Testament and the New Testament monogamous marriage is cited as God’s planned unit for the perpetuation and prosperity of humankind through families (Gen. 1:26-28; Matt. 19;4ff). As such, civil government has a biblical interest and a right to administrate marriage. While couples are encouraged to enter into the covenant of marriage under the authority of the church, the church nevertheless honors civil marriage. Those who come to Christ not having been married in the church do not need to remarry although they may desire to have their marriage blessed by the church. The church is not, however, bound to honor civil divorce if the divorce is secured for an unbiblical reason (see below). What’s more, individuals who are not divorced according to civil law are married. Undivorced, separated brothers and sisters are NOT free in the eyes of the church to initiate or pursue other courting relationships until a divorce has been secured.
II. THE BIBLE’S TEACHING ON DIVORCE
A. Divorce is abhorrent to God (Mal. 2:15,16)
B. Divorce is always the result of sin
God’s basic intention for marriage never included divorce; but when sin entered human experience, God’s intention was distorted and marred. Under perfect conditions there was no provision for divorce, but God allowed divorce to become a reality because of man’s sinfulness (Deut. 24:1-4; Matt. 19:7,8).
To say that divorce is always the result of sin is not to say, however, that all divorce is itself a sin. It may be the only way to deal with the sinfulness of the other party, which has disrupted the marriage relationship. For instance, God “gave Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries.” (Jer. 3:8)
C. There are two conditions under which divorce is biblically permissible.
Since divorce is a sinful distortion of God’s intention for marriage, it is an alternative of last recourse, to be avoided whenever possible. However, Scripture does teach that there are two circumstances in which divorce is permitted (though never required):
1. In the case of sexual unfaithfulness (Matt. 19:9).
2. In the case of desertion of a believing partner by an unbelieving
spouse (1 Cor. 7:15, 16)
D. Divorce carries with it consequences and complications
Divorce because it is a violation of God’s plan, carries with it painful consequences and complications. God has made perfect provisions for the complete forgiveness of all our sin through the death of Christ, even the sins of sexual infidelity and unjustified divorce (1 Peter 2:24)
Forgiveness, however, does not remove the temporal consequences of our sins, or the pain and grief involved in the death of a relationship. Divorced singles, single parent families, remarriage and the problems of “blended” families are part of the consequences of God’s intention being thwarted. The church is to minister to individuals and families suffering these consequences and to seek to help them respond with maturity to their problems.
E. Reconciliation is to be preferred to divorce.
While divorce is conditionally permitted, it is never commanded. Forgiveness and reconciliation are always to be preferred (1 Cor. 7:10, 11). “Love [even] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:44, 45; cf Matt. 5:9).
III. WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT REMARRIAGE
A. Remarriage is permitted where the former spouse is deceased (Rom 7:2; 1 Cor. 7:39).
B. Where a divorce occurred prior to conversion, remarriage may be permitted.
If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold new things are come (2 Cor. 5:17). When one becomes a Christian, all sin is forgiven and all condemnation removed (Rom. 8:1).
If the former marriage partner has also become a Christian, remarriage to that partner should be sought. Where the former partner has not been converted and attempts to share the gospel with him/her are rejected, however, remarriage to that person would be disobedient to Scripture (2 Cor. 6:14).
Even though remarriage is allowable biblically, there may be consequences from past sins that continue, or destructive patterns from the old life that can carry into new relationships. Thus, a new marriage should be entered into with due thoughtfulness and with the counsel of mature Christians.
C. Where a divorce has occurred on Scriptural grounds, the offended party is free to remarry.
A person who has been divorced because of infidelity of a marriage partner or desertion by an unbelieving partner, is free to remarry (1 Cor. 7:15).
D. What about desertion by a “Christian” spouse?
I Corinthians 7 deals specifically with the case of a non-believer who refuses to live with a believing spouse. The question then arises as to the remarriage of a believer who was divorced by a
partner who also professed to be a Christian. Such a situation ideally should involve the church in the steps of disciplinary action outlined in Matthew 18. A Christian who decides to walk out of a marriage without biblical cause is in violation of Scripture. Such a person who refuses the counsel and admonition of the elders and persists in following the course of disobedience ultimately is to be dealt with as though he/she is an unbeliever (Matt. 18:17). The deserted spouse would then be in a position of having been deserted by one whose sinful behavior and unresponsiveness to spiritual admonition gives evidence of an unregenerate heart and thus fall under the provision of 1 Corinthians 7:15. All such cases need review by consultation of elders.
E. Where a former spouse has remarried, remarriage is permitted for the other person.
Regardless of the reasons for the divorce itself, if one of the partners has remarried, the union is permanently broken and reconciliation is impossible and thus the remaining partner is free to remarry.
F. Scripture does not absolutely forbid remarriage of a person who has caused a non-biblical divorce.
Where there has been conversion (in the case of a person who was not a Christian when the divorce occurred) or the demonstration of genuine and heartfelt repentance (in the case of one who was a Christian at the time of the divorce), remarriage may be permitted for the offending party if (1) the former spouse has remarried or (2) the former partner refuses reconciliation (1 Cor. 7:15).
G. Scripture recognizes the possibility of separation that does not lead to divorce.
Because of man’s sinful nature, couples can, at times, be involved in a marital relationship that is destructive, either physically or emotionally to the two marriage partners and/or their children. It is possible that separation might become necessary because of the destructive nature of the relationship or the potential danger to one or more of the family members. Such a situation does not provide grounds for dissolution of the marriage and the establishment of a new marriage. Where no biblical ground for remarriage exists, a Christian is bound to seek reconciliation as long as there is a possibility of such reconciliation taking place (1 Cor. 7:11).
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
A. Is there ever a totally innocent party in marital discord or divorce?
No one is ever free from sinful conduct or attitudes, so in this sense there is no “innocent party.” However, there are some sins that nullify the marriage covenant, and some which, though they may be serious, do not. In any case of marital discord, both partners need to understand how they personally contributed to the conflict.
B. Will divorced persons be allowed to participate in ministry opportunities in the church?
Spiritual, psychological and relational maturity are primary qualifications for service opportunities. Divorce would be considered only one part of a much broader evaluation of a person’s suitability for ministry. Divorce does not necessarily preclude serving. A primary consideration must be the reputation and integrity that the individual has in the Body of Christ and the community (1 Tim. 3:2, 7; Titus 1:6).
C. What if there has been no sexual unfaithfulness in a Christian marriage, but two Christians decide to dissolve their marriage because they are incompatible?
The Bible does not recognize incompatibility as grounds for divorce. Reconciliation must be achieved and every means possible should be considered, including individual and/or marriage counseling. If Christ is on the throne of two human hearts, conflict will ease. Jesus does not fight with Himself.
D. A frequent reason given for seeking a divorce is that the original marriage was a mistake. The couple believes that they got married for the wrong reasons and are asking why they should perpetuate a mistake.
God’s promise is that He is able to cause all things to work together for good, even our human mistakes (Rom. 8:28). The Bible does not recognize a “mistake” as grounds for divorce. A deliberate knowledgeable violation of God’s revealed will for marriage is never an appropriate response to a mistake made earlier in life. “Two wrongs do not make a right.”
E. What if a couple is separated or divorced and both desire to have sexual intimacy with each other?
Sexual intimacy is the privilege of a marriage relationship. If the couple is already divorced, such intimacy would be classed as fornication. If the couple is not actually divorced, then sexual intimacy might be appropriate (1 Cor. 7:4-7). However, serious consideration should be given by each partner as to his or her personal motivation in the relationship. One of the considerations a couple must have is their reputation with their children and friends.
Who We Are (Our Culture & Values)
- We value faithfulness to the Word of God, the functions of the church, the administration of the ordinances, and an appreciation for our historical and traditional Christian roots.
You’ll see this in our preaching and teaching, our regular practice of communion, anointing of the sick, and baptism in water. Because we value and have a healthy respect for liturgy and the traditions of the church, we celebrate observances such as the Advent (pre-Christmas) and Lenten (pre-Easter) seasons.
- We value a culture of generosity, servant-hood, and the willingness to express and give our God-given gifts within and beyond our church.
Because of this we hold to the practice of regular giving (tithing and offerings), and are committed to the advance of the kingdom (to actively take the Gospel to the world [evangelism & missions]).
- We value the personhood and gifts of the Holy Spirit, and an openness to His creative power.
You’ll see this especially in the way we worship (musical style, dance, the use of flags, the raising of hands), which should encourage a deepening personal experience of God.
- We value the church as the family of God for all ages and people, expressed through a family dynamic of mutual care.
You’ll see this in mix of ages, and the emphasis we place on Connectedness and Community. We express this through corporate worship and prayer, relational groups (aka Connect groups), opportunities to serve, the systems we have in place, and the healthy respect for we have for authority. Because of this we hold to the institution of monogamous, heterosexual marriage, a definition of life from conception to natural death, and a responsibility to care for the needy, widows, and orphans. It also means that we are committed to training future generations through discipleship and mentoring. Embracing the tension between personal freedoms and appropriate boundaries as expressed in Scripture has shaped the way we govern and lead, the way we do life/church/family, and how we otherwise express ourselves.
Women & Men Serving Together in Ministry
Protocols for Mixed Gender Ministry
Ministering Across Genders
When men and women serve God together in ministry, the mixed gender team can be a fruitful blessing. And men and women can be friends in ministry, but it is critical that the limits to the relationship be well-defined. Men and women must set boundaries, plant hedges, and build fences. This is especially true for married men or women who minister without their spouses. There are some who will say we are making a big deal out of a small issue. They may not believe the inconvenience of boundaries, hedges, and fences are worth the hassle. However, a brief review of the sad stories of destroyed ministries resulting from those with unguarded practices may be more than sufficient to convince anyone of this serious need. Sadly, many of these people did not set out to destroy their marriages or ministries. It never starts with someone saying to another person, “Hey, I’d like to commit adultery with you.” It will always begin with something innocent. That is why we need boundaries, hedges, and fences. Below is a collection of (protocols) practices which we should become comfortable enforcing in our work and ministry with members of the opposite sex. The Ortberg Tests1 John Ortberg suggested three simple tests to quickly evaluate ministry relationships: – The Sibling test: Do I trust this person as my own sister (or brother)? There are emotionally needy people we may minister to (or with) who may not have their life aligned with Christ. And we must only entrust ourselves to work closely with emotionally mature women (or men) of proven character. – The Screen test: Would I be embarrassed if any of my actions or conversations with the opposite sex were were shown on a movie screen? I must never speak or act in a manner of which I would feel ashamed in front of my spouse. – The Secret Test: Am I keeping anything at all as a secret from my spouse? Involve Your Spouse When involved in ministry with members of the opposite sex, include your spouse and family in casual conversations. We send the wrong message when we never mention our spouse. Ask co-workers about their spouse and family, as well. If at all possible, have your spouse present. What not to share It is highly inappropriate to share anything about difficulties or struggles you may be having with your spouse to a fellow opposite gender ministry worker. 1 Email correspondence from John Ortberg to the authors in Edwards, Sue, Kelley Mathews, and Henry J. Rogers. Mixed Ministry: Working Together As Brothers and Sisters in an Oversexed Society. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2008, 191. Rev. 8 Oct 09Visual Reminders It is a helpful fence to celebrate your current marital status with external visual signs. Married ministry workers should regularly wear their wedding bands. It sends a bad message when a married ministry worker cannot or will not wear their wedding ring. If your office or cubicle is a place where you may frequently meet with opposite gender people, it would be a healthy sign to prominently display a photo of your spouse and family. It is also a regular visual reminder to us of what is most important to us who serve in ministry. Never Flirt Alone Flirting is to joke or play affectionately without serious intentions. Everyone has been a flirt at some point in their lives. Flirting can be used to elicit attention from the opposite sex. And humor can be a healthy way to interact in intensely stressful time together with the opposite gender. Using the Ortberg Tests, I must ask how my spouse would view my flirting. But, when we are having fun or joking with the opposite gender, it is always safest when we do so in a group of three or more. And since flirting can become a problem in any scenario, do not consider this as permission to “flirt away”. Three is (Safe) Company “There is safety in numbers.” Never is this more true than in ministry situations with the opposite gender. While this poses the greatest challenge, there is much value to never traveling alone with the opposite gender. Even when the distance travelled is short, a public display of this situation can be misunderstood and create much concern. When taking meals together for ministry purposes, only choose a breakfast or lunch appointment in a location where there are many other people. Avoid dinner appointments as they communicate too much intimacy. When there is absolutely no alternative, be sure your spouse or others are completely clear as to the schedule and purpose for the appointment or the shared travel. When the circumstances require driving someone of the opposite gender somewhere, let them have the back seat, to visually display that you are serving them as driver only, not companion. When a compliment is not a compliment When paying a compliment to an opposite gender, we do not want to be misunderstood, but only edifying. If we are complimenting clothing or hair-style, we should focus on the item of clothing or hair. It is one thing to say, “That is a smart-looking outfit you are wearing.” It communicates something different to say “You look great in that suit.” Avoid any compliment that makes any reference to the physical attributes of an opposite gender, such as, “that really accentuates your figure.” Even when complimenting ministry performance, focus on the action, not the person. For example, “Pastor, you give awesome counsel” rather than “Pastor, you are an awesome counselor.” The difference is subtle, but significant. The true motivation behind a compliment is what can define the difference between encouragement and flattery. As stated before, the company of three makes the setting for the compliment safer. Touchy, Touchy Beyond the handshake, there are there are only three locations on the body where skin-to-skin contact is acceptable among ministry co-workers: the forearm, the wrist and the upper back.2 “Touching should be kept to a minimum,” says Jill Bremer, an image etiquette and communication skills instructor with 2 Jill Bremer, “Touch Points”, Forbes.com, August 1, 2006. Internet: http://www.forbes.com/2006/08/01/leadership- bizbasics-G8-cx_tw_0801touching.html; accessed 8 October 2009Bremer Communications. “Longer than a couple of seconds and it can become sexual,” says Bremer. “[It makes the receiver wonder], what is this person trying to tell me?” In the church, where care is often communicated through physical touch, we must be on guard more than anywhere else. When hugging, try to form a habit of side hugs only, unless separated by objects (across row of chairs) or a safe distance, so that only shoulders touch. Brevity should be the key to hugs, also. And there should be no place for hugging someone of opposite gender, except in front of others. The “Holy kiss” revived by the charismatic renewal should be limited to cheeks only. Be Healthy Ultimately, one of the most powerful protective fences or boundaries we can build around our marriages is to focus the energy and time to keep that relationship healthy and vital. Making our ministry marriages strong will provide a strong dose of prevention in the area of moral failure in ministry. This helps avoid the emotional or sexual neediness that can create a vulnerability even in the most gifted ministry leader. Of course, the most powerful protection of our ministry marriages would be in our relationship with God. John Piper wrote in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, “There are many practical strategies for being sexually pure in mind and body. I don’t demean them. I use them! But with all my heart I know, and with the authority of Scripture I know, that the tiny spaceships of our moral strategies will be useless in nudging the planet of sexuality into orbit unless the sun of our solar system is the supremacy of Christ.” It is a healthy perception of our own vulnerability that will motivate us to construct these fences and boundaries. Paul warns “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” 1 Cor. 10:12 None of us is exempt from the need for these practices and all of us must be subject to these protocols. Further, seeing to it that we live up to these guidelines is not a task for the church elders only. Rather, we all share the responsibility of holding one another accountable to these standards. Bibliography Bremer, Jill. “Touch Points”, Forbes.com, August 1, 2006. Internet: http://www.forbes.com/2006/08/01/leadership-bizbasics-G8-cx_tw_0801touching.html; accessed 8 October 2009. Edwards, Sue, Kelley Mathews, and Henry J. Rogers. Mixed Ministry: Working Together As Brothers and Sisters in an Oversexed Society. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2008. Jenkins, Jerry B. Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2005. Piper, John, and Justin Taylor. Sex and the Supremacy of Christ. Crossway Books, 2005. Sumner, Sarah, “The mixed gender team: how can men and women work in sync?” Leadership (Carol Stream, IL): January 1, 2006.
While recognizing the right for other churches to practice infant Baptism if it conforms to their theologies, New Covenant Christian Community Church understands Scripture to teach that only professing believers qualify for Baptism. Scriptural teaching on Baptism may be summarized as follows:
- Baptism is an act of obedience to the command of Christ, fulfilled by individuals who have submitted themselves to His sovereignty.
- Baptism symbolizes the spiritual cleansing through divine forgiveness and the newness of life experienced by believers by virtue of their identification with Christ in His death and resurrection.
- Baptism provides an opportunity for believers to make a formal profession of their faith before the church.
- As a biblical rite of initiation into the body of Christ, Baptism of believers may be considered a prerequisite for joining the membership of the church.
Although the old covenant practice of infant circumcision is sometimes given as a rationale for infant Baptism, the biblical definition of the functions of circumcision and Baptism shows that those two institutions fulfilled different purposes in their respective covenants. The equation is never made in the Bible between the circumcision of male infants, in the old covenant, and the Baptism of born-again believers, much less of infants, in the new covenant. However, New Covenant Christian Community Church encourages Christian parents to present their children for the ceremony of dedication, whereby God’s blessing is formally invoked upon the children, and the parents publicly commit themselves to raise the children in accordance with the teachings of Scripture. Because the symbolism of Baptism requires a more adult level of cognitive and developmental readiness, the Elders require that children have the approval of their parents before being baptized. Proverbs 20:25 issues a significant caution against the danger of making a vow before adequate knowledge, forethought and reflection have been given. Baptism recognizes and celebrates the redemptive life change that is continually occurring within our church. The Elders encourage, new believers and believers that have not yet participated in adult Baptism, the opportunity to be baptized by immersion. The Elders’ position is that Baptism by immersion paints the truest picture of “dying to sin and arising to Christ and new life.
A Word Concerning Infant Baptism
If the purpose of Baptism is to publicly identify a believer in Jesus Christ, you may well be asking yourself, “What was the significance of my Baptism as a baby?” In the Bible, we find parents bringing their children to Jesus. He held them and prayed for them and told us to welcome them. But He did not baptize them, and He did not tell anyone else to baptize them. Baptism is for those who have made a personal decision to trust Christ alone for their salvation. If you were baptized as a child, it was the intent of your parents that you would one day be a follower of Christ. Your Baptism as an adult can be viewed as the fulfillment of your parents’ wishes. It in no way repudiates the Baptism you received as a child.
NC4 Philosophy of Pastoral Care
SUMMARY Everyone’s Responsibility, Everyone’s Privilege
Jesus is the shepherd of His sheep, and his personal care is communicated to all believers through the voice of the Holy Spirit. The New Testament uses the word “elder” to describe those who carry the responsibility for the care, health, and welfare of the church. While elders are commanded to shepherd and care for the church, the methods of shepherding are not clearly outlined in the scriptures. This is a biblical argument for elders to be flexible in how they oversee the church. In practice this means pastoral care can look, feel, and act very differently across the body of Christ; church leadership can adjust care and oversight to accommodate changes in cultural norms and dynamics of church life.
At New Covenant the elders’ primary focus is on prayer, care, governing, and vision. Prayer is the birthplace of everything we do at New Covenant, and elders pray together and individually. Care is a broad area that covers all aspects of a person’s spiritual, mental, and physical well-being. Governing covers daily operations, conflict resolution, matters of disciple, doctrine, and the like. Vision includes both the overall direction taken by New Covenant, as well as the planning and implementation that enables us to get there.
On the topic of care, elders do not bear the responsibility alone. A biblical understanding of shepherding is that the chief shepherd’s care is administered to his followers by his followers. Mutual care — where all members are watching out for and building each other up — is a theme that runs through the New Testament. Paul’s own expectation was for mutual care; he would both provide care to and receive care from the body of Christ. Believers are regularly encouraged to help and care for one another, as seen in Romans 15:14, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:11–14, I Peter 2:9 and 4:10, Hebrews 10:24-25, and 1 John 3:18. There are at least 18 different New Testament passages that speak of our duty to minister to one another.
In contrast, the word “pastor” is found only one time in Ephesians 4:11 — “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers….”1 The greater context of this passage, however, clarifies that leadership roles in the church (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers; v. 11) are to prepare God’s people for ministry (v. 12a) and to prepare them to build up the body (v. 12b) so that the whole body is grow to full maturity (v. 13–16). We believe the reason “pastor” is only found once in the entire New Testament is because the actual feeding, tending, protecting, caring, and building of the church is not merely the responsibility of a group of elders or a professional staff; it is the privilege of the body of Christ.
Over the course of church history, the title of “pastor” has come to be associated with the role of the primary leader of a church. Although “pastor” is never used as a formal title in the New Testament (Paul always referred to this role as “elder”), its usage is culturally and historically embedded. It is the word we use to describe spiritual care and oversight; it is both an act and an office of the church.
Shepherding is both our privilege and our duty to one another, and any believer is able to influence any circumstance through persistent prayer. Biblical shepherding is a relational process, and unless a congregation is very small, it isn’t possible for a church’s pastoral staff to have meaningful relationships with all, or even most, individuals in the congregation. Successful relational shepherding requires the following:
1. Church leadership must provide adequate means to access and promote authentic relationships.
2. Each member must actively choose to enter into authentic relationships; this choice implies taking responsibility and spiritual authority for relating to and caring for one another.
3. New leaders must be identified and trained on an ongoing basis.
4. The entire process must be committed to Godly oversight.
At New Covenant, small groups are the primary environment that allows authentic relationships to germinate and grow. They are structured to incite love for one another and provide an environment for members to respond to needs (inside and outside the small group) with the various gifts provided by the Holy Spirit.
A small group leader is essentially a non-staff pastor of a group that meets in a home or other private setting. The leader provides grass-roots pastoral care for the larger church organism, helping to create a culture of interdependency — where all members share responsibility in caring for one another. Ministries (ushers, music, prayer, youth, alpha, etc.) as a special kind of small group, and those involved in ministries should make relationships within the ministry as central as the work of the ministry itself.
Every believer has both the ability and the duty to provide pastoral care, and the normative path to care at New Covenant follows the natural paths of personal relationships:
1. Individuals or couples in the church with whom one has a mature and developed relationship.
2. Small group leaders/ministry leaders and fellow group members
3. Ministry teams where appropriate (e.g., healing team, various prayer ministries, etc.).
4. Professional staff pastors.
5. External resources (e.g., professional therapists/counseling, specialized support groups, ancillary ministries, etc.)
We recognize that time and work constraints will prevent some individuals from investing themselves in small groups; some individuals will in fact be unwilling to do so. Nonetheless, every effort needs to be explored and every means employed to involve people in small groups.
Staff pastors at New Covenant typically engage in pastoral care such as counseling, visitation, prayer, and various care ministries. However, the focus of their energies should be twofold. The first is triaging crisis situations, directing those in need to the mostappropriate part of the body of Christ (another friend in Christ, a small group leader, a psychotherapeutic counselor, a chaplain, a prayer ministry, etc.). The second is the oversight and training of leaders. That said, our pastoral staff will not refuse care to anyone who has entrusted themselves to our care; we need to see that the family of God is cared, and that any additional outsourcing to the appropriate people or ministries occurs.
In summary, as we live out our lives in the family of God and develop biblical relationships with each other, we must actively participate in Paul’s understanding of the biblical pattern for care: “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7).
Giving: Tithing, Offering, & Alms
TITHING, OFFERING & ALMS
Tithe: In Hebrew & Greek it means a “tenth.”
- First used in Gen. 14:20 when Abram gave a 10th of the spoils to Melchizedek, the high priest of Salem.
- It became part of the Mosaic Law in Leviticus. A tenth of produce, animals and anything else raised was to be brought to the Levites (priests) to support them. The Levites in turn had to tithe a 10th of their 10th to the high priest. Note: Our pastors tithe.
- Malachi 3:6-12 – returning to tithing and offerings was the key for rebuking the one who was destroying Judah and Jerusalem.
- Using the tithe as a form of righteousness stinks (Luke 18:12 – tax gatherers) and Matt. 23:23.
- In the N.T., God through his Son, Jesus, challenges us to give our all, not just a 10th (Luke 18:22). Luke 12 talks about laying up treasures on earth versus treasures in heaven.
Offerings = sacrifice/gift
Daily Passover Burnt Sabbath Unleavened Bread Peace New Moon Pentecost Meal & Drink Feast of Trumpets Heave & Wave Day of Atonement
Offerings are in addition to the tithe. We take offerings to give them away; e.g. special needs (Haiti), guest speakers. The pledge is an offering.
Alms = in Hebrew means “righteousness.” In Greek means “beneficence” (kindness, goodness)
Moses commanded in Deut. 15:11, “therefore I command thee saying ‘thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to they poor, and to thy needy in the land.’”
As the Jewish nation became more poverty stricken due to foreign takeovers and oppression of the wealthy Jews, almsgiving came to be considered a virtue:
Prov. 19:17 – “He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord and He will repay him for his good deed.”
A violation of the statues regarding almsgiving became a heinous sin.
Almsgiving is practiced in secret. Matt. 6:1-4
L.O.A.F. fund giving is a place for almsgiving.