This is a brief overview of our six core principles that we adhere to.
- Devotion to Scripture – We are bible believing followers of Jesus Christ (The Ekklesia) that are devoted to the study of scripture which is the primary part of the discipleship process. Our doctrinal beliefs are rooted in the New Covenant of the New Testament which was established by the life ministry, death & resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We fully understand that the Old Testament is representative of the Old Covenant which was fulfilled and by Jesus Christ and is essential for a full understanding of God’s plan for his creation. Our doctrinal beliefs are based solely on biblical texts and have nothing to do with a religion. We do not enforce a particular version of the Holy Bible as we understand that there are many translations that convey the correct meaning of the gospel message today.
- Simple Gatherings – We follow the simple format that we see mentioned throughout the Book of Acts and the Epistles of the New Testament. Jesus did say that he would build his Ekklesia and the Apostle Paul stated that we should not forsake the assembling of the Ekklesia. The Apostle Mathew states that where 2 or more believers in Christ are gathered, Jesus Christ is in the midst of them.
- We Meet in Homes not church buildings or campuses – Our gatherings are small groups of no more than 12 per group to provide sufficient access to group elders and to keep the meetings more intimate (Family like) and manageable.
- Everyone is Discipled and will Disciple others– We strongly believe that Discipleship is the key to a healthy and strong Christian walk. Jesus told us to preach the gospel to all who would listen, but he told us to go and make disciples also. Every believer should be discipled to the point of spiritual maturity so that they can enter their season of eldership and continue the process of making new Disciples which will be raised to repeat this cycle. Discipleship is not an option, but a requirement that is commanded by Jesus Christ.
- Everyone Exercises the 5 fold ministry gifts and the Gifts of the Spirit – We encourage the practice of the 5 fold ministry gifts and the fruits of the Spirit by every believer. We believe that these gifts were not intended for just a few (Pastors & Evangelists), but for all that believe. We believe that these gifts were intended for all as a function not a position.
- Multiplication Concept of the Ekklesia – the primary focus of every group that meets is to multiply the group. As new believers are added to exiting groups the development of the disciples into elders is vital because the group will have to be split and a new set of leaders will be needed to guide the new group.
And in depth view of each our 6 core principals
- DEVOTION TO SCRIPTURE
The word of God (The Bible) is the foundation of the faith. It is through the study of scripture that we come to know God and His plan for life. We want the believers to know that we need to learn to love studying the word of God just as much as they love God. Far too often, we can see that people become lovers of ministries, lovers of ministry books, lovers of programs, lovers of church leaders and sermons they give. The Ekklesia cannot be healthy and strong if the believers are not personally meeting with and enjoying God consistently in a daily study of His word. The greatest command is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, so this must be our greatest priority as Christians. Of course our second highest priority is to love others as we love ourselves.
Many Christians look to Sunday morning as the time where they will be “fed” by someone preaching a sermon, but we expect everyone in the Ekklesia to be able to read \ study the word of God on their own with effective understanding. When we gather as a group, rather than having the elders preach a sermon, we have a discussion in which we discuss the passages of scriptures that we are focusing on at that current time frame. We expect all of the group to contribute to the meeting with their feedback on the scriptures. Instead of coming to consume (Be fed), believers come with the expectation to bring their insight from their personal time with the Lord throughout the week.
When everyone is devoted to reading the Bible every day, it also becomes the best guarding defense against heresy (False Doctrine). When the Ekklesia does not read the scriptures regularly themselves, but instead come every Sunday to be fed the scriptures by a pastor, there is a lot of potential for false teaching to be accepted by the believers being led astray from sound doctrinal truth. But when everyone is reading through the whole Bible and studying scripture, it becomes very difficult for them to be led astray.
- SIMPLE GATHERINGS
In the gospel of John chapter 6, we can see how a large number of people follow Jesus while he was teaching and preaching and the nubers grew so large that there was not enough food to feed all of them. Jesus saw this and performed a miracle by taking a few loaves of bread and a few fish and multiplying them to be able to feed thousands of people to the point that they were stuffed. The people continued to pursue Jesus because He provided them with food. But Jesus clearly sees that the people continued to follow him for the physical food that he provided instead of the spiritual food that he wanted to give them. Jesus then refused to give them physical food anymore to make sure that only those who really wanted to follow Jesus for the right reason would continue to follow Him. Are we willing to do the same today in our gatherings? Are we willing to strip away everything that is not necessary for salvation and a healthy walk in Christ to make sure people are being drawn by Jesus and Jesus alone?
We do not have any paid staff, rented or owned buildings or campuses, social programs or traditional church events. The main focus of our gatherings is Jesus Christ and His commands and teachings and belonging to a community of believers that are called out from the world to be separate from it and dedicated to the purpose of God. Many church conferences are about how to create impressive strategies to draw people into the church institution so that they can build it up numerically. We choose to practice a Christian life that glorifies the Father and exemplifies Christ likeness every day. We understand that Jesus will build His church by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, not by man made business building strategies. The Holy Spirit will draw each man and woman to Christ and provide the convicting power of God so that they will be added to the Kingdom of God daily. Jesus knew this. The Apostles knew this. We also know it and we will not do anything differently.
We worship the Lord together. We read and study the scriptures together. We pray together. We conduct life together as we enjoy the company of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We do not do programs ministries like most churches do because we teach each other how to live life as a ministry without the institutionalization of that concept with all of it’s programs and traditions.
- WE MEET IN HOMES
We have committed to having group gatherings of 12 people per home. We believe that once we get past 12 people in our gatherings it becomes increasingly difficult to conduct our groups like a family by truly knowing each other, carry one another’s burdens, and building each other up in our faith. Many churches mimic this form of a home groups today. But they foster the idea that the Sunday gathering at a traditional church building is the primary context of church, and the home group meetings are optional. We are the opposite in thought as the home group meeting our the only meetings that we have. For us, we want everyone to opt into sharing life, and therefore the primary context of the Ekklesia is to be a spiritual family of 12 people that know each other personally, meet routinely to pray, study the Word of God, Worship the Lord, break bread and eat and enjoy life’s ups and downs together just like a family does.
Another reason we meet in homes is because of the financial implications of having an institutional church. Meeting in church buildings, regardless of whether they are owned or rented and having a large paid church staff requires a big church budget that is needed in order to have pay for the overhead. By meeting in homes and having no church buildings, we have the option to scale up and out exponentially without needing a church budget. We also set ourselves up for using our financial resources more strategically for assisting those in need and doing the work God the He has called us to do.
- EVERYONE DISCIPLED AND DISCIPLES OTHERS
Everyone is called to be a disciple and we are all called to share the gospel with non-believers in hopes that they would follow Jesus Christ. But we are all called to take responsibility for the spiritual care of other believers. Discipleship is hard and can get messy. It requires us to know everyone in the group personally, being able to have those hard conversations when sin is evident, working through conflicts effectively, and spending extra time with our brothers and sisters in Christ to share in life’s ups and downs.
The great temptation in traditional churches of the day has been to replace discipleship with various church programs. For example, If there is a married couple struggling in their marriage, church leadership often suggests they read a spiritual marriage repair book, enroll in a marriage counseling class, or participate in a marriage retreat. But what they need most is the guidance and mentorship of couples who are seasoned and mature in their faith and have successfully overcome many of the challenges that occur in marriage. To be able to come alongside the couple and assist with them through life’s challenges like family would do. Though these church programs could be helpful, we often hide behind them and ignore the responsibility to engage in a true discipleship process. It’s not that these programs are completely bad, but they might undermine detract from true discipleship.
Group elders are not responsible for discipling everyone in the group all the time. They will spend more time with more seasoned \ experienced believers from the group with a focus on teaching them to disciple others. This will ensure that those seasoned disciples are able to disciple the less seasoned \experienced believers in the group fostering a solid methodology of maturing the group as a whole which fulfills the discipleship process. And as for those who are new to the faith, they might not be fully responsible for the spiritual care of another person immediately, but they are actively engaging in evangelistic efforts and being trained to take responsibility for others as they are strengthened in their faith.
One of the greatest benefits of having smaller home groups is that there is no ability for believers to hide or get lost in the folds of the group. Each person’s life is more transparent and visible to the group. It is essential to the health and well being of the Ekklesia to be able to see when a brother or sister in Christ needs prayer and assistance when they are struggling with life’s challenges in both a carnal and spiritual sense. There should never be any room for believers to just “attend church” on a regular basis and avoid the intimate relationships that are so necessary when everyone is being discipled for life and ministry.
- EVERYONE EXERCISES THE 5-FOLD MINISTRY GIFTS & THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT
Paul said “to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (1 Cor 12:7). He goes on to list many different types of gifts that the Spirit gives to believers for the sake of the body. Then he explains how every part of the body is needed, and how we must be careful not start developing a mindset that some gifts are more important than others. Every believer needs to realize that they are just as needed and important as anyone else in the group that gathers. Most believers are indoctrinated to believe that the preacher or the worship leader is more important than they are.
Elders have an important job to lead and shepherd, but it doesn’t mean that they are the only voice that needs to be heard. We do not have long monologue sermons in our house gatherings because we don’t want any one person to dominate the gatherings. The Elders lead the Scripture discussion in the gatherings, and a big task for them is to draw people into utilizing their spiritual gifts. Leaders should not be dominating the group meeting like it is a college lecture hall.
Elders also should be looking out for spiritual gifts that believers in their gatherings possess, to give them opportunities to lead and grow in those gifts. For example, if there is a person in the gathering that has been under spiritual attack lately, a person that has the gift of discernment of spirits can invite that person to pray for that believer. If someone has the gift of hospitality, encourage them to invite some of the group over to their home for fellowship. Someone might have the gift of encouragement, so ask them to support someone who is struggling in the group. If someone has the ability to explain the Bible well, ask them to to present a scripture passages that the Lord has given them insight on.
- MULTIPLICATION CONCEPT OF THE MEETING GROUP
So many traditional churches begin small with discipleship as their focus, but are not able to maintain that focus because church membership number growth soon becomes the primary focus of the church. Before they know it, they have become more like a traditional church institution rather than a healthy family of God.
Meeting in homes sounds great, but what happens as the home group grows? How does the home group adapt and grow as the Lord adds to their numbers? The answer is found in one word: Multiplication! Just like the beginning of life itself, which starts out with the splitting of cells to create new cells until the living organism is fully grown. Or like the concept of fruit trees that grow from a single seed that came from the fruit of a tree. The true fruit of an apple tree isn’t the apples, but rather seeds found in the apples it produced. The true fruit of a strong leader is not the followers of that leader, but more strong leaders that are raised up from the followers of that leader. The true fruit of a healthy church is not the attendants of the church, but more but the health and strength of each attendant of the church which will allow for those attending to be able to reproduce what they have enjoyed in that church.
God has designed the world to have one basic principle that is a requirement for sustainability and that is reproduction! The fruit trees that cannot multiply through reproduction are ones that are genetically modified to have no seeds. Yes it is wonderful to eat a piece of fruit that we do not have pick the seeds out of when we are eating it. But if we have no seeds to replant new trees, we will quickly find out that our pleasure in eating seedless fruit is short lived and not worth the effort of modifying the DNA of the fruit to make them seedless after all. The traditional church model of the day has this problem and we have only begun to see the dangers of it. The principal of multiplication is essential to reproducing healthy and strong believers in Christ Jesus that are effective members of Gods Kingdom. We have too many GMO churches and we need to get back to conducting our worship the way Jesus Christ intended it to be. (Being fruitful and multiplying)
We multiply to preserve the healthy number of 12 people per gathering, and to prioritize the mission of God over our own comfort. In order to be able to multiply effectively, we must structure our groups in a way that is reproducible. We place a high premium on leadership development because we are constantly preparing to multiply as soon as a group reaches it’s capacity. Once the group begins to go over the limit of 12, they need new leadership to be ready to step into their role as elders that can lead the newly formed group after splitting the group up. The elders have to be mindful not allow believers to become too dependent on them because when the time comes to multiply people have no problem going with a different leader if they are prepared to do so. Effective leadership always involves allowing others to have the opportunity to lead, and it is imperative in the multiplication process.
Elders are constantly developing the elders-in-training (Disciples). When multiplication happens, each group multiplies by splitting in half. This multiplication is dependent on whether we have the elders-in-training that are ready to start taking the lead in the new group that will split from the original group. We want a healthy critical mass of at least 7 people to start a group. So a group will grow to a number of 19 attendees before it splits creating a new group of 7 and the existing group will keep 8 with the goal of both groups getting back to 12 again.
Multiplication is not something that will happen easily. It will be rare that a group will say, “We are ready to spit up!” before they are forced to do so. Almost everyone will say, “We don’t want to spit up the group yet.” Who’s going to want to see half the people that they have gotten to know so well, leave their group? But if we don’t anticipate the need to multiply regularly, it will make the process difficult.
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