Philosophy of Ministry

Purpose & Principles of a Local Church, Part 3

Introduced by Pastor Ed Vasicek. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Here is the last part of our “Purpose and Principles” document, developed and unanimously approved by our 1996 Elders’ Board. It grapples with what we consider to be reasonable and the proper balance in matters of how we conduct services, when we separate, and political activity. It continues to explain what makes our church distinct from both mainline churches and other evangelical churches. This line in particular grips me: “Our concern is that we are headed toward involving our people in edification and ministry, not matching anyone’s model.”

Views on Ministries

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Purpose & Principles of a Local Church

Sometimes people think I or our elders don’t know the rules for the game of “doing church.” In many ways, however, the difference between HPC (Highland Park Church) and more typical approaches is intentionally engineered based upon convictions and understandings derived from a fresh study of the Word back in 1995-6.

Besides studying relevant Scripture portions, the elders (yours truly included) read Gene Getz’s book, “Sharpening the Focus of the Church” as prerequisite preparation. We had a second meeting every month for the better part of a year to construct this document. When you consider all the individual work we did at home, this was quite an undertaking.

Our approach was to be different from the typical conservative evangelical/ fundamental church by trying to get as many people involved as possible in our services and church life. One key statement is, “We want people to be attracted to HPC primarily because they see God at work in the lives of our people.”

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A “Hold Nothing Back” Approach to Ministry

A Rigorous Approach

In a previous article, I showed that every Christian is responsible to teach the Word of God. But God does not call every Christian to be a shepherding teacher (a pastor, Eph. 4:11), and not every Christian receives the spiritual gift of teaching (Rom. 12:7). Still, every Christian is responsible to teach (Heb. 5:12). Thus, every pastor is responsible to motivate and equip the members of the church he shepherds to teach the Word of God effectively (Eph. 4:12).

Paul deployed this strategy. He trained Timothy in both what to teach and how to teach those things to others (2 Tim. 2:2). So how did he do this? What method did he follow? He tells us that he held nothing back. He reveals this rigorous approach in Acts 20:20, when he told the church at Ephesus that he “kept back nothing that was profitable” from them. This rigorous approach reveals why the Ephesian church affected the outlying region so well (Acts 19:10). As Paul equipped them to do the work of the ministry, he held nothing back that enabled them to do this.

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