Welcome to Together-In-God Fellowship!
“We may not have it all together … but together in God, we have it all!”
We are not a “church;” we are an assembly of Christian believers. Another way of stating it is that we are a Christian fellowship gathering.
It is not required that an attendee be a born-again believer. We welcome any and all who are willing to learn from and to adjust to the truths of scripture while maintaining proper decorum.
Those among us who are born-again believers are members of the one-and-only universal Church.
The only true Church is the one of which Jesus is the Head.
The Church consists of all true believers – past, present and future.
When properly prepared, we encourage all true believers who gather with us to be baptized if they have not been properly baptized previously. Baptism is not a salvation prerequisite.
A proper fellowship holds to the true doctrines of scripture, endeavoring to ascertain them accurately:
Tit 1:9 [We] must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that [we] can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
Tit 2:1 [We] must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.
There are no “church denominations” in God’s economy. The ongoing and ever-greater division among those who claim to be of one family – children of the same Father, brothers and sisters of one another and Jesus Himself, filled with the one Holy Spirit – is surely a grievance to the Holy Spirit.
The NT is replete with calls to unity, as modeled in the Trinity itself, and as Jesus prayed in Jn 17. Such unity cannot be achieved and is not being sought when folks attach a denominational label to themselves. Lack of unity among Christians is perhaps the single-most offered excuse encountered from non-believers as they resist evangelistic efforts.
Sadly, many (most?) denominational Christians have no idea what their denominational “distinctives” actually are, why they are necessary, or how their denomination differs from all the others anyhow. Many “churchgoers” – even “church” leaders – easily move from one denomination to another when circumstances arise (marriage, moving to a new location, “church” closure or merge, and more). That simply proves that their denominational separation wasn’t necessary after all.
Our fellowship is affiliated with God alone. Therefore, we have no hierarchical reporting or mandating body except God and His Word – and each member is encouraged to hold us accountable. Nevertheless, individually we are indeed united with all other born-again believers, whether or not they err in wearing a denominational label. However, while we will join in fellowship and ministry efforts alongside “denominational Christians” who are born-again true believers, we cannot partner with any who hold false doctrine or who accept and condone sinful practices.
Eph 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Eph 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Eph 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Rom 15:5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus,
2Co 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. …
We invite and accept all who will not attempt to introduce false doctrines or sinful practices and/or lifestyles into the fellowship. However, if anyone does hold false doctrine or is currently involved in sinful practice or lifestyle, they are nonetheless still welcome if they are willing to set those aside while in attendance and are willing to respectfully allow the elders to show them God’s truths from His Word. No timetable for adjustment is demanded; simply a willingness to hear from God’s Word in order that the Holy Spirit would bring conviction and repentance on His schedule.
2Co 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
We will be a smallish gathering of local, born-again Christians for the purpose of worshiping, honoring, glorifying and magnifying God. We desire that the world should see His great renown.
Among ourselves, we will endeavor to make disciples and develop future qualified elders. We will seek to fulfill scripture’s commands to be mutually edifying one another and spurring one another on to love and good works. In addition, we have a passion to evangelize the lost so that they too may become children of God and welcomed into the family.
If our fellowship should grow in size, we will send off some members, including some elders, with God’s blessing and ours to develop another new fellowship.
Jn 4:23-24 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Mt 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. …
Heb 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
1Th 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, …
Rom 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Jn 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
We are (will be) led by a plurality of qualified elders. Today’s prevalent paradigm of “THE pastor” is not biblical. Likewise, there is no biblical justification for a lead or executive or head pastor, nor any associate or assistant pastors, nor a youth pastor or any other specially-titled pastor. Elders may wisely divide and assign certain tasks among themselves, but they are all on equal footing.
Those who are commonly referred to as pastors can also be called elders, overseers, shepherds or bishops. The bible applies all these functions to those who are charged with the responsibility of overseeing the local assembly and maintaining order/decency. All these duties are assigned to the same men who are now referred to as pastors. We choose to label our leaders as elders rather than pastors simply to avoid the confusion which is elicited by the common misuse of the term “pastor.”
Elders are equal members of the fellowship. There is no hierarchy. Elders do not hold an office. The elders have a duty; a responsibility – not a ruling authority. That is, their “authority” is an inherent component of their duty and responsibility to the other members. It is not a hierarchically-superior or titular position of official rule over the membership. Elders have a duty to facilitate consensus and maintain order/decency (only when and as required) and to lead (again, only when and as required to fulfill their duty/responsibility). They are simply equal members of the assembly gifted with knowledge, wisdom, discernment, leadership, ability to teach – and qualified in character. Because of these, they are entrusted with the duties and responsibilities of eldership to serve and persuade the membership – from God’s Word – for God’s purposes.
Teaching duties will rotate among the qualified. No one “owns the pulpit.” The elders themselves will monitor and correct any improper attraction to their own giftedness or any other element of their persona, redirecting it to God. Assembly members will be periodically reminded that God alone is worthy of credit for whatever good and positive benefit which accrues to any or all of the members, and to the fellowship itself. We trust in and rely upon God. We will promote and glorify God, not some mere man with even the greatest of human skills and dedication. God provides him with those.
Embracing the freedom which Jesus’ sacrifice allows, we will not impose rules on members beyond what Scripture dictates. Instead, we encourage one another to be considerate of each other’s journey in Christian maturity, ensuring our actions do not hinder or mislead others.
Gal 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Gal 5:13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
1Pe 2:16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
1Co 8:9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.
We will teach and expect enthusiastic, willing participation by all members. We will avoid the prevalent paradigm of the same leader or leadership group putting on a weekly show for the same spectators. Christian fellowship is not meant to be a spectator sport. We are not at a movie or sports event merely sitting in the audience. We are each called to one role or another in our gathering together. We are to be of one mind and purpose; all members working together as one body.
Rom 12:4-5 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
2Co 13:11 Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
We will take appropriate time with each element of the assembly gathering, avoiding moving from one element to the next ritualistically or due to self-imposed time constraints. We must do justice to whatever we undertake to do, setting aside time for the assembly activities so that there isn’t a rush and the clock isn’t looming as a hammer. The fellowship gathering is the priority at its appointed time.
Parents will decide what is best for their children. Children may and must remain with parents in the gathering if they are able to do so without being a distraction or interruption. When it is necessary for a child to be apart, parents will decide the best option, consulting with the elders if desired or needed.
Each weekly gathering will include a full meal, along with the type of wonderful, additional and meaningful fellowship this provides. This was the practice of the early Church. Also in accordance with early Church practice, a portion of this time will be dedicated to the communion rite – both in looking back in solemn remembrance of what Christ accomplished for us, and looking forward in enthusiastic hope to when Jesus promised to drink of the vine again in His Father’s kingdom.
Lk 22:17-20 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
(See also 1Co 11:17-26)
Our gathering may last 4 hours or so as members willingly and excitedly spend time together as family, tending to each others’ joys, sorrows and needs as the family bond among us strengthens.
In order to draw the greatest benefit and fullest measure of edification for all members – strengthening our relationship with God and with one another in Him in the exercise of each element of the gathering – we will avoid the establishment of a fixed, rigid, ritualistic routine.
We must be focused on purpose and principle. When differences in preferences arise, we will decide by consensus whether to incorporate some or all in a blend or rotation – or to settle on one choice.
As we attract enough members who share giftedness, we can and must rotate responsibility for duties which overlap among the members. No one owns his or her piece.