We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New testaments to be the verbally inspired word of God, the final authority for faith and life, infallible and God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 2 Pet. 1:20, 21; Matt. 5:18; John 16:12, 13).
We believe in one triune God, eternally existing in three persons–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–coeternal in being, coeternal in nature, coequal in power and glory, and having the same attributes and perfections (Deut. 6:4; 2 Cor. 13:14).
The Person and Work of Christ
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became man without ceasing to be God, having been conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary, in order that He might reveal God and redeem sinful man (John 1:1, 2, 14; Luke 1:35). We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption through His death on the cross as a representative, vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice; and that our justification is made sure by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead (Rom. 3:24; 1 Peter 2:24; Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:3-5). We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God, where, as our High Priest, He fulfills the ministry of representative, intercessor, and advocate (Acts 1:9, 10; Heb. 7:25, 9:24; Rom. 8:34; 1 John 2:1-2).
The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is a member of the Godhead and a person who convicts the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; and that He is the supernatural agent in regeneration, baptizing all believers into the body of Christ, indwelling them and sealing them unto the day of redemption (John 16:8-11; 2 Cor. 3:6; 1 Cor 12:12-14; Rom. 8:9; Eph. 5:18).
We believe that man was created in the image and likeness of God, but that through Adam’s sin, the race fell, inherited a sinful nature, and became alienated from God. Man has a radical propensity to sin, and of himself is utterly unable to remedy his lost condition (Gen. 1:26, 27; Rom. 3:22, 23, 5:12; Eph. 2:1-3, 12). We also believe that humanity is created in the image of God (imago dei), and thus has intrinsic value. This is seen in the reality of Jesus Christ’s incarnation, becoming a man, and his willingness to die for humanity.
We believe that salvation is the gift of God brought to man by grace and received by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose precious blood was shed on Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins (Eph. 2:8-10; John 1:12; Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:18-19).
Eternal Security and Assurance of Believers
We believe that all the redeemed are kept by God’s power and are thus secure in Christ forever (John 6:37-40, 10:27-30; Rom. 8:1, 38, 39; 1 Cor. 1:4-8; 1 Pet. 1:5). We believe it is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God’s word, which clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an occasion to the flesh (Rom. 13:13, 14; Gal. 5:13; Titus 2:11-15). We believe that the saved person is in the process of being conformed to the image of Christ, and will bear fruit in their life before they die.
The Ministry and Spiritual Gifts
We believe that God is sovereign in the bestowing of spiritual gifts. It is, however, the believer’s responsibility to attempt to develop their sovereignly given spiritual gift(s). The baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at conversion and is the placing of the believer into the Body of Christ. We also believe that particular spiritual gift(s) are neither essential (proving the presence of the Holy Spirit), nor an indication of a deep spiritual experience (1 Cor. 12:7, 11, 13; Eph. 4:7-8). We believe that God does hear and answer the prayer of faith, in accordance with His own will, for the sick and afflicted (John 15:7; 1 John 5:14, 15). We believe it is the privilege and responsibility of every believer to minister according to the gift(s) and grace of God given to him (Rom. 12:1-8; 2 Cor. 13; 1 Pet. 4:10-11).
We believe that the church, which is the body and espoused bride of Christ, is a spiritual organism made up of all born-again persons of this present age (Eph. 1:22, 23, 5:25-27; 1 Cor. 12:12-14; 2 Cor 11:2). We believe that the establishment and continuance of local churches is clearly taught and defined in the New Testament scriptures (Acts 14:27, 18:22, 20:17, 1 Tim. 3:1-3; Titus 1:5-11). We believe in the autonomy of the local churches, that they are to be free of any external authority and control (Acts 13:1-4, 15:19-31, 20:28; Rom. 16:1, 4; 1 Cor. 3:9, 16, 5:4-7, 13; 1 Pet. 5:1-4). We recognize believers’ baptisms and the Lord’s Supper as scriptural means of testimony for the church in this age (Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 2:41, 42, 18:8; 2 Cor. 11:23-26).
The Second Advent of Christ
We believe in the “blessed hope,” the personal, imminent, coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for His redeemed ones. (I Thes. 1:10, 4:13-18, 5:9; Zech. 14:4-11; Rev. 3:10, 19:11-16, 20:1-6).
Serving the World
In 2015, we began asking the question, What does it mean to be the people of God in our time and place in history? This led us to adopt some specific practices found in Scripture that turn our lives both toward the grace of God that has come to us in Jesus and toward the world He loves.
The Imago Dei Community Practices:
Hear & Obey the Word & Spirit – Receiving the grace of Jesus as He speaks to us through His Word and Spirit – leading us into holy listening, dependent trust and obedient faith.
Celebration – Celebrating Jesus through the grace of communal worship and the submission of holy rest – cultivating an experience of gratitude and intimacy with God.
Vocation – Participating with Jesus in daily mission through the grace of living out our holy calling as a community and as individuals – leading us to an awareness of our spiritual gifts and the divine opportunities in our daily work.
Hospitality – Experiencing the grace of Jesus by welcoming Him into our lives through the face of the stranger – making space for inclusive meals, acts of compassion and sharing the grace and knowledge of Christ with others.
Generosity – Encountering Jesus through the grace of joining him in selfless service and revolutionary sacrifice – teaching us that our time, our energy and our resources have been given to us to bless the world.
The book of Acts portrays the result of Jesus’ life and ministry in the actions of His followers and their new community, the church. Filled with the promised Holy Spirit of God, this community began to represent Jesus’ kingship and kingdom to the world. Living by Kingdom Values based on their intimate knowledge of Christ, the church was able to live out a love and unity unheard of in the wider world.
Although the values held by the early church manifest differently according to specific times and culture, their general applications are not bound by history or geography. The following four core values attempt to summarize Kingdom priorities that will always yield new life and blessing to people who purpose to live in and through them.
Truth & Meaning
Before truth can be about facts, it must first be about a Person. In declaring Himself the truth, Jesus echoes the insistence in Hebrew Scriptures that truth and meaning are intimately connected to each other in the nature of God and His purpose in creation. But Jesus does not simply echo this great scriptural theme—He makes Himself its culmination. In a few plainspoken words, Jesus takes the long story of how God revealed His nature and purpose to the people of Israel and declares Himself its key.
In Christ’s love relationship with the Father and the Spirit, God’s Triune, relational nature is demonstrated. In Christ’s march to the cross, God’s passionate purpose to include humanity in His eternal communion is made manifest. United, these two lessons provide context for beginning to grasp what it means to call the Bible God’s revealed truth—that Scripture not only grants reliable historical knowledge about how God acts in the daily world, it grants unique theological knowledge about what God is like and why He acts at all.
Imago Dei Community shares a commitment to hold Jesus Christ as the sole key to understanding truth and meaning—and why, unless they are united, truth will be empty and meaning blind. Since the Bible alone accurately represents the person and work and heritage of Jesus, Imago Dei treats it as God’s ultimate tool for directing the church to know Christ and be transformed into His image. Truth is a baggy word these days. But for truth to be truth at Imago Dei, it must serve nothing less than the holistic meaning found in the Triune God’s active love for the world.
Worship and Beauty
Made in God’s image, people are most human when they too delight to give and beautify. As people salvaged by Christ from selfish waste and adopted into a family of thankful makers, Imago Dei Community recognizes that all things true and beautiful and good find their completion only when they are offered to the Giver in worship.
Instead of compartmentalizing life, then, Imago Dei strives to integrate all of human experience into expressions of worship. Whether dedicating a novel, a song, or a newborn child, the community recognizes that the powers of creativity and beauty find source and destination in God. In joy, God gives these powers that He might receive their fruits back with joy—because only through such exchange may His children join in His eternal delight. For this reason, Imago Dei values the arts and their expressions of beauty as vital to a life of holistic worship.
God—as Father, Son and Holy Spirit—exists in eternal community. Imago Dei seeks to participate in that community through corporate worship and consistent fellowship, following Jesus’ great command to love both God and neighbor. And because the gospel is ultimately about humanity being restored to God’s community, only through practicing community will individuals grow fully in the grace and knowledge to be found in Jesus. Furthermore, it is through community that a fragmented world can best witness the power of the gospel and the nature of God’s work.
As a culture of confession, transformation, friendship, forgiveness, justice, power, and love springs up in the lives of normal people, those who don’t know Christ will be compelled to ask what is happening. And the answer to their questions? It’s that the Spirit of God is abiding in Christ’s people at Imago Dei as a temple, transforming every person together into the image of a communal God whose nature overflows to the world with faith, hope, and love.
Christ calls His followers to journey with Him into a diverse world and then to embrace it in equally diverse ways. Imago Dei Community, following Christ, is committed to befriending each other and a broken world through acts of compassion and service. Compelled by love to live out and proclaim the gospel of Jesus, the church conspires to engage culture with hope on all fronts, to advocate for the defenseless, to seek justice for the downtrodden, to lift up the downcast, to embody the fearless love of the risen Christ.
Hardly above frailty and brokenness, Imago Dei celebrates the God who calls His people to start walking with Him through that frailty and brokenness. Hardly beyond pain and even hypocrisy, Imago Dei practices turning the difficulties of the journey into sources of fellowship, joy, healing, and worship. Together, transparent in weakness and strengthened by hope, the church aims to mature in its identity as the image of God to the world. It is through this walk and worship—messy as they can be—that Imago Dei Community strives to fulfill its mission to love as God loves, proclaiming the whole Gospel to the whole person to the whole world.
Doctrine matters. What a person believes shapes who he or she becomes. At the same time, discerning doctrinal truth—that is, knowing God’s loving will for humanity in all matters of life—is a communal matter. It requires marshaling the knowledge, wisdom, and input of the community so that those God has called as leaders can understand specifically how best to connect Scriptural application with peoples’ lives.
At the same time, it is good for everyone in the church to understand the process by which Imago’s elders and pastors go about crafting the doctrinal positions that guide the church through difficult cultural and theological questions. Doctrinal Forums, then, allow Imago Dei leadership to open up its process to the wider community. They also allow every person in the church to voice questions and opinions. Above all, the forums let everyone in the church practice listening, learning, praying—disciplines that help put preservation of unity in Christ above personal opinion or gut reaction.
Elders & Overseers
The terms “elders” and “overseers” are interchangeable and designate the primary spiritual leaders of the church (Titus 1:5, 7; Acts 20: 17, 28). The term “elder” emphasizes maturity and “overseer” emphasizes the leadership responsibility. Ideally the local church has a plurality of elders (Acts 14:23; 20:17; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 4:14; 5:17; Titus 1:5; James 5:14). Elders are equal in authority, but not equal in influence. Their authority is to be expressed in loving leadership and not lording over the flock (1 Peter 5:3; Hebrews 13:17). God has designated men as elder/overseers (see “Women in Ministry” document).
Elders have final responsibility before God for prayer ministry (James 5:14), ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4) including teaching and guarding the church’s doctrine (Acts 20:27-31; 1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:9), the administration of the church (1 Timothy 3:5), and shepherding the flock (1 Peter 5:2).
Elders are responsible for the whole flock, but they are not the only ones who shepherd. The gift of pastor (Ephesians 4:11) involves shepherding, but is different from the office of elder/overseer. We use the term “pastor” for some of our leaders, whether men or women, who direct ministries. They shepherd part of the flock under the elders’ authority. Elders are “pastors” (1 Peter 5:1-2), but we distinguish their office by the term “elder” or “overseer”. We use the term “deacon” for the office held by men and women who serve under the elders to meet practical needs in the church.
Elders must be blameless in character (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9), able to teach Scripture (1 Timothy 3:2; 5:17), and answer those who contradict it (Titus 1:9). An elder must be the “husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2; 3:12). We understand that this qualification does not exclude an unmarried person, someone remarried after the death of a spouse, nor necessarily one who has divorced and remarried. The phrase describes a reputation as a “faithful” husband or a “one-wife kind of man” (see Divorce and Remarriage document).
Elders are public leaders, and so valid accusation of blame should only be accepted by two or three witnesses and result in public rebuke (1 Timothy 5:19-20).
In Scripture elders were selected by the original church planter (Acts 14:23) or by other elders (Titus 1:5), with recognition from the congregation for its leaders (Acts 6:3; 15:22-23). Scripture does not describe how elders should organize themselves, so this is determined by church size, cultural context and specific needs of the body.
The important role/office of deacons is highly honored by God (1 Timothy 3:13). Deacons are under the leadership of the elders. Deacons serve and build the church spiritually by carrying out essential practical ministry designated by the elders. They free up church leaders to be devoted to the ministry of the Word and prayer (Acts 6:4). They serve by meeting practical needs so the Word can spread unhindered (Acts 6:7). They conduct ministry that does not emphasize teaching or shepherding.
The word deacon is a general term. The Bible uses diakeno (serve), diakonia (service) and diakonos (servant) to describe the ministry of all believers (Ephesians 4:12). The term “deacon” also has a specialized meaning as a recognized position or office in church ministry (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8-13). Deacons may have originated with the seven who were chosen by the apostles and the church to care for the widows (Acts 6:1-6). The name implies that they do specially designated service necessary for the church’s effectiveness, though Scripture gives no job description.
The spiritual and character qualifications for deacons are almost identical with elders. The requirements of teaching ability (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9) and “not a new convert” (1 Timothy 3:6) are not included for deacons. They must be first tested in ministry and show themselves faithful and effective (1 Timothy 3:10). Like the elders, deacons must be the “husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2; 3:12). We understand that this qualification does not exclude an unmarried person, those remarried after the death of a spouse, nor necessarily those who have divorced and remarried. The phrase describes someone with a reputation as a “faithful” spouse or a “one-wife kind of man.”
1 Timothy 3:11 mentions “women/wives”. The term may refer to the wives of deacons, but the adjective “their” (wives) is missing. There was no Greek word for deaconess and so a term like “woman” or the masculine “deacon” (Romans 16:1) had to be used. It seems unlikely that there were qualifications for the wife of a deacon when there were none for an elder’s wife. The service nature of the position does not require the authoritative teaching of the church or the leading of the whole church, which are restricted to elder/overseers. Thus, deacons may be either women or men who meet the Scriptural qualifications.
Each generation of the church may have a different emphasis on the specific ministries of deacons. The elders of each church must decide where they are most needed. The position of Imago Dei is to commission deacons to lead teams of serving believers whose function is not primarily pastoring or teaching, e.g. leading a team to distribute money to the poor (benevolence), leading area set-up and teardown teams, leading security teams, leading a parking team, leading a hospitality team, leading an usher team, leading an emergency response team, leading a team of financial advisors, leading a building team.
Women in Ministry
Two main views have emerged among evangelicals regarding the role of women in ministry. Egalitarians believe that women can qualify for any position in the church. Complementarians believe that men and women are equal in worth, but that God has created role differences that limit women from some ministry positions. Evangelicals recognize that both views have reasonable and biblical arguments.
1) We want our policies to be based upon our theology. Our church members have a variety of views, but we elders are united that the following statement is best for Imago Dei. So, we must all agree to promote unity (John 17:23) and willingly follow our church guidelines despite our differences. These guidelines are reviewed periodically.
2) We believe that the “women in ministry” issue is one where differences within faithful orthodoxy are acceptable. We have come to a conviction on this issue (Romans 14:5) that we teach, but we don’t require agreement or condemn those who differ. We invite those who differ to discuss the issue humbly without causing division, but for the sake of unity, refrain from teaching or promoting their view in our church context. For those who cannot do so, we request that they seek another fellowship where their views can better serve the Church.
3) We believe that both men and women are equally made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and equal partners in Christ (Galatians 3:28). This equality of person and position may include diversity of function and appropriate leadership and submission. The trinity illustrates both equality of persons and diversity of function. This diversity includes leadership and submission between the equal persons of the trinity. God the Father sends the Son and the Spirit (Isaiah 48:16; John 5:23-36; 14:26; 15:26). The Son and the Spirit submit to the Father, but each is equally God. This equality and diversity is also reflected in our church structure.
4) We believe that Christ’s gifts are equally given to men and women to build up His Body (Ephesians 4:12), but that God has designated men to fulfill the primary role of spiritual leadership. This pattern is illustrated by Old Testament priests, the twelve apostles, and elders/overseers in the church. Paul’s appeal to creation (1 Timothy 2:12-15; 1 Corinthians 11:2-12) and God’s pattern of choosing men to fulfill the primary role of spiritual leadership, point to male leadership as trans-cultural. So, we conclude that God has designated qualified men to fulfill the role of New Testament elders/overseers. The biblical examples of women teaching or leading men harmonize with this view since these women were not fulfilling the role of Old Testament priests or New Testament elders (Judges 4:4, Deborah; Acts 18:26, Priscilla).
5) We believe that Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2:12 (“I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man”) can be interpreted as combining the ideas of teaching and authority. The combined ideas create the concept of “authoritative teaching,” which is teaching with the authority of the elders who determine doctrine for the church. With this understanding, we believe that Paul limited women only from the position of “authoritative teacher,” that is the role of elder/overseer (See p. 169, Two Views on Women in Ministry).
6) We recognize that history has shown that men often use their leadership to oppress women. Some men have caused great harm to women in the name of church leadership. As elders we desire and pray that we will follow the model of Christ who led with love and empowered the church.
Restoration is the process of leading a believer back from sinning to repentance, forgiveness, fellowship and ministry. Scripture gives broad guidelines for church restoration rather than detailed instructions on every particular situation. Our elders and leaders seek to follow these biblical guidelines under the guidance of the Spirit. The goal of confronting sin is always restoration rather than punishment. Since God’s grace covers every possible sin, restoration is only impossible when we refuse to repent. God leads our process of growth by disciplining all of His true children (Hebrews 12:5-11; 1 Corinthians 11:32). Discipline is part of discipleship and is a sign of true relationship with our heavenly Father (Hebrews 12:8).
Restoration within Community
Imago Dei has a core value of authentic community. We commit to the spiritual welfare of each other through a Membership Covenant. We are bound by love to encourage each other in righteousness and warn each other when we wander into sin. We are Christ-followers in community who “speak the truth in love” to each other as a means of growing up in Christ (Ephesians 4:15, 25).
As a Christ-following community, we are to confess our sins to one other (James 5:16), forgive each other (Ephesians 4:32), stimulate each other to good works (Hebrews 10:25), turn each other back when we stray (James 5:19-21), rebuke (1 Timothy 5:20; Titus 1:13; 2:15), correct (2 Timothy 3:16), exhort each other with the Word (1 Timothy 4:2), and urge harmony between believers in conflict (Philippians 4:2). Restoration ministry includes helping believers in dispute rather than using the secular courts (1 Corinthians 6:1-11).
In the World, but not of the World
God has placed Christ-followers in the midst of a broken world in relationship rather than isolation (1 Corinthians 5:10). However, those who profess to be Christ-followers and are living in unrepentant sin should be confronted and every effort made to have them restored if at all possible (1 Corinthians 5:12-13).
Matthew 18:15-17 outlines the process of restoring a sinning believer: “If your brother sins [against you], go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
While in the process of confronting a sinning believer, we do not treat the person as an enemy, though normal fellowship is not possible. Rather, we are with them in order to admonish to repentance (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15). When excommunication is necessary, the church no longer recognizes the sinning person as a part of the believing community (Matthew 18:17).
Divorce & Remarriage
Imago Dei Community seeks God’s help to build strong marriages and families. Marriage is God’s gift for believers and unbelievers (Genesis 2:24) but, in a broken world, marriages will fail and we must be ready to respond with grace and truth. Marriage is a God-ordained, public covenant between a man and a woman that results in a “one flesh” relationship (Genesis 2:24; Proverbs 2:16-17; Ezekiel 16:8; Malachi 2:14). God’s design is that every marriage be faithfully permanent. God loves covenant keeping, and His strength is sufficient to enable husband and wife to be faithful. His redeeming grace gives us hope that even the most broken marriage can be restored.
Our position allows divorce and remarriage for either of two valid causes: sexual immorality (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:9) or desertion by an unbelieving spouse (I Corinthians 7:15). This has been called the Erasmian view, the traditional Protestant view, and is the most common view among evangelicals. Divorce and remarriage is a debatable issue and we respect believers who differ with us. Note: In this position statement “sexual immorality” and “sexual unfaithfulness” are translations of the Greek word, porneia (Matt 5:32; 19:9). In a marriage context it refers to the sins of adultery, homosexual behavior, incest and bestiality.
The Mosaic Law brought the death penalty for certain sexual sins, including adultery, incest, homosexual behavior and bestiality. Capital punishment showed the seriousness of sexual sin and allowed the innocent surviving spouse to remarry. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), but He allowed it because of the hardness of people’s hearts (Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Matthew 19:8).
Jesus said, “whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9; see also 5:32). The exception clause (“except for sexual immorality”) refers to adultery and probably covers all the cases of sexual sin that deserved capital punishment in the Old Testament. Matthew records Christ’s most detailed teaching on divorce and remarriage (Matthew 5:27-32; 19:3-12). Mark 10:2-12 and Luke 16:18 do not include the exception clause because they are a summary of Christ’s teaching.
The New Testament allows, but does not require, divorce for sexual unfaithfulness. God’s grace encourages us to forgive and have hope that God’s transforming power can redeem even the most broken marriage. However, when there has been sexual unfaithfulness, divorce and remarriage are allowed, and do not constitute adultery. The marriage bond includes a covenant and then uniting sexually in “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Biblically, a marriage is viewed as ending when one spouse dies (Romans 7:2). It also ends when two things occur: (1) the one flesh has been violated (sexual unfaithfulness) and (2) the legal covenant has been revoked (divorce); if only one of these two things has occurred, the marriage continues to exist.
If someone divorces without a valid cause, they are still married in God’s sight. If one of them remarries, their new sexual union is adultery against their former spouse, and the first marriage is ended. Their union forms a new marriage. The new couple should repent of adultery, receive God’s forgiveness, and seek to make their marriage faithfully permanent. The former spouse is now single and free to remarry (Matthew 19:3-12).
One further exception is the so-called “Pauline privilege” in I Corinthians 7:15 (the believer “is not under bondage in such cases”) . The “bound” condition is best understood as the marriage bond (I Corinthians 7:39). In a marriage of believer and unbeliever, the believer should seek to preserve the marriage (1 Corinthians 7:13-14; 1 Peter 3:1-2). However, if the unbelieving spouse deserts, the believer, after patient prayer, may divorce and remarry.
There are many destructive behaviors that can threaten the safety of family members and jeopardize the health of a marriage. Even when sexual addiction does not include physical adultery, it is still a form of evil destructive lust (Matthew 5:27-28) and worthy of church discipline. Abuse of spouse or children cannot be tolerated. It is not, in itself, automatically grounds for divorce, but such abuse is so serious that it can result in church discipline and excommunication for the unrepentant abuser Refusal to provide for one’s family (1 Timothy 5:8) is a form of denying the faith and desertion. In these and other destructive situations we will: (1) seek to remove family members from physical danger, (2) follow required legal reporting, (3) confront the abuser, (4) provide a care team to nurture the couple, and (5) bring church discipline and excommunication when appropriate. When excommunication occurs, the case will be treated as desertion by an unbeliever (Matthew 18:17). Unmarried sexual cohabitation is an expression of sexual sin that seeks intimacy without commitment. The couple should either separate or make a marriage covenant in harmony with Scripture and state law (Hebrews 13:4; Romans 13:1).
Qualifications for church leadership involve one’s current lifestyle. No one is disqualified because they did not meet the requirements in the past. The “husband of one wife” qualification for elders and deacons (I Timothy 3:2; 3:12) requires a person to have a reputation of living faithfully with their current spouse. The qualification is an idiom meaning a “one-wife kind of man,” not someone who has never been divorced or never remarried. For a single person this would require a reputation of sexual purity. Taking the phrase literally results in the unlikely view that it excludes single men like Paul, and those who have remarried for any cause. (Kostenberger, God Marriage and Family, chp. 12; Strauch, Biblical Eldership, 189-193).
Throughout the history of the Christian Church, Baptism has been one of the most universally accepted practices, almost always understood as being connected with the beginning of the Christian life. It is a symbol of our being united with Christ in his death and resurrection, “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” Rom 6:3, Rom 6:5, Col 2:12
“We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” – Romans 6:4
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come!” – 2 Cor. 5:17
Baptism doesn’t make you a believer – it is a declaration that through faith, you have already been united with Christ. Baptism does not “save” you, only your faith in Christ does that. Baptism is similar to wedding ring – it is an outward symbol of the commitment you make in your heart.
Why should I be baptized?
Jesus Commanded Baptism – Jesus regarded the act of baptism to be so significant that he commissioned His Church to go all over the world baptizing disciples who believe the gospel message. “Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations,” He said, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19
Jesus Modeled Baptism – “At that time Jesus came from Nazareth and was baptized by John in the Jordan.” Mark 1:9
Why Be Baptized by Immersion?
It appears Jesus was baptized by immersion, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water.” Matthew 3:16 The symbol of death and resurrection fits going down into the water and coming up.
Who should be baptized?
Every person who has believed in Christ. “Those who accepted His message were baptized” Acts 2:41
“Simon himself believed and was baptized” Acts 8:13
“But when they believed… they were baptized, both men and women.” Acts 8:12
At Imago Dei Community, we wait until our kids are old enough to believe and understand the true meaning of baptism. If you have a child that is expressing an interest in baptism, please contact email@example.com.
When we come to Christ by faith, we enter into two covenants, or promises. The first is the covenant relationship with God, where we journey with Him in relationship for the rest of our lives. The other covenant we enter into is with the faithful community of God’s people. In this covenant, God places us in relationship with one another. As such, Scripture requires us to have servanthood, birthed out of godly love, as our primary activity toward one another. Membership is not about signing on a dotted line of beliefs, but rather joining a family that is seeking to share Christ with the world and with each other.
The Imago Dei Membership Covenant is a stated commitment that we are living in community together and seeking to embody the values of our church in active expressions of love and service. Many times membership in covenant community is seen as limiting rather than unleashing. It is often seen as exclusive rather than inclusive, and hindering biblical love and service rather than assisting it. We see active membership as just the opposite. It is a way of creating more room to include people, it provides more stability to help people grow in their faith and service, and it creates a solidifying relationship that allows us to authentically journey together in Christ. It stretches us to be a diverse community, and to love those who are not like us. It provides the leadership accountability to the people that they serve and it provides accountability to the people toward God. It also destroys the American idol of the autonomous self, practicing an individualized private faith, which we see as highly contrary to the New Testament community. Through the power of the Spirit, we enter into relationship with our church community. The relationship is reciprocal in that the leadership of the church covenants with you, and you covenant with them.
This is the pattern we see in the book of Acts, servant leadership that empowered the people for a life of witness and spiritual fruit to the glory of God. Thus, in our covenant at Imago Dei, we make mutual commitments to one another.
The Elders’ Commitment
The Elders of Imago Dei Community recognize that they have final responsibility before God for the whole flock. This responsibility includes prayer ministry, ministry of the Word (including teaching and guarding the church’s doctrine), the administration of the church and shepherding the flock. With a commitment to Word, Sacrament (the Lord’s Table and baptism), Prayer and Fellowship, the Elders fulfill their duties within the covenant community of believers.
The Member’s Covenant
The member’s covenant involves a recognition and commitment to Imago Dei Community. As a member, you are proclaiming that you have been saved from your sins through Christ’s work on the cross and that you either have been, or are willing to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You have read the doctrinal statement and position papers of Imago Dei and Membership Covenant – Church’s Copy agree to not be divisive to their teaching; rather, you will seek to preserve the unity and peace of our community, worshiping God in all you do, growing in the truth of God’s word, and actively pursuing a life that reflects the Gospel to our world. This relational covenant will also have bearing upon our finances. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are family. Family members take care of and provide for one another (James 2:15- 17). Moreover, we all must strive to give in a way that mimics the generosity and self-sacrifice that God Himself demonstrates in His own great gift of grace through His son (2 Corinthians 9:5- 15). As a matter of faithfulness to these principles, we expect our members to be actively engaged in sacrificial giving of time and resources for the needs of the body of Christ (Phil 4:14- 19). Regardless of the amount given, the importance lies in the fact that all giving should be done generously, sacrificially, and with joy. We will all strive to live in such a way that demonstrates that every area of our lives is submitted to the Lordship of Jesus. This will be evident in how we use our time, resources, and gifts. The most significant part of the member’s covenant is how we live as a family with one another. This commitment is to enter into spiritual community with one another and seek to love and serve your brothers and sisters in Christ. You are saying that you will build one another up in the Lord, refraining from gossip, and encouraging others away from it, as well. Above all, you are committing to love God and bring glory to Him above all else.
You can print, sign and return this covenant to: 1302 SE Ankeny St. Portland, OR 97214, or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.