EcclesiologyThe Study of the Church
The Universal Church
We believe the Church, that is, the body and future bride of Christ, is a spiritual entity made up of all born-again believers of this present age, regardless of their affiliation with churches or other organizations (Ephesians 1:22–23; 5:25–27; 1 Corinthians 12:12–14; Ephesians 4:11–16). The birth date of the Church was the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 1:5 with 11:15–16 and ch. 2). The Church is a distinct entity, not to be confused with Israel (1 Corinthians 10:32).
The Local Church
The universal Church is visibly functional through fellowship groups, called local churches, meeting in identifiable locations (1 Corinthians 1:1-2). Local churches should be autonomously governed by their own leadership (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17). The congregation is responsible to submit to its leadership (Hebrews 13:17). We believe that the local church is an assembly of believers meeting together for the purposes of worship, communion, Bible study, prayer, fellowship, mutual care, discipline, and witnessing (Acts 2:41–47; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26; Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 10:24–25).
We believe that God calls qualified men to lead and teach the assembled congregation, and that a woman is neither to teach men nor to exercise authority over men in the church. In all other areas of church life and ministry, women may and should serve (1 Corinthians 11:3; 14:33b–37; 1 Timothy 2:12–15).