Seven Convictions About Culture for the Local Church

FiveStone Churches offers a few suggestions--in the form of a seven-point convictions list--for the local church in the midst of cultural upheaval and broad heartburn.

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The seven points are to protect churches in the FiveStone network. From what? From narrow perspectives that feed divisions and from cultural factions that detract from the church’s primary responsibility to make disciples of Jesus Christ and to baptize and teach those disciples. Church shepherds should speak to cultural issues from the Bible and for the proclamation of the gospel.

Even as the the culture in the U.S. and Canada shifts, the church's core mission must not shift with it. The cost of acting on the church's mission is rising. Regardless, Christ works primarily through his salvation gospel presented in his local church. That's the source of lasting change in individuals and in culture. 

Here's the seven:

  1. We will focus on Jesus Christ—through His gospel—as the change-maker in the human heart, leading to authentic, God-pleasing relationships.
  2. We will speak truth in biblical love, which can be expressed in firmness as well as in tenderness as the need requires.
  3. We will not allow cultural issues to set the local church’s agenda or define the local church. The church is to be gospel-centered, not issues-centered. Cultural issues may be addressed as they impact the church’s core responsibility of disciple-making.
  4. We will be deeply wary of joining with non-evangelical voices and, while we may quote or reference them, we will clearly state that we do not necessarily advocate their causes or agree with their rhetoric or positions. We will diligently research all sources so we accurately reference their views.
  5. We will consider valid perspectives on various sides of cultural issues, but will present perspectives from biblically sound followers of Jesus Christ.
  6. We will not flatten complexities of cultural issues; these issues will not be distilled into stereotypes or simplicities. We will be diligently thoughtful in issues of race, ethnicity and other human relationships. We will seek to understand varied perspectives, but our views will comply with our best understanding of the breadth of the Scriptures' teaching.
  7. The local church elders have unique responsibility and authority to shape the church’s teaching and preaching. A plurality of elder voices from the pulpit and throughout the church are to forge biblical and thoughtful responses to cultural issues. Elders will focus on Doctrine, Discipline, Direction and Discipleship in the local church.

The complete document is linked here.

The Rock Conference 2013

Photos from The Rock Conference 2013 at Calvary Bible Church in Ypsilanti, Mich.

Theme for the day: Building commitment to biblical success in the local church.

A terrific day with Kent Hughes as well as pastors and leaders from 21 churches and Bible colleges. Also pastors from a church in Canada, who made The Rock Conference an international event.

Thankful for comments from Germando Jordan, senior pastor of The Master’s Bible Chapel in Southfield, Mich.:

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I had never heard of 5Stone Churches before this conference, so I didn't know what to expect. I did know of Kent Hughes, through his books and commentaries, so I decided to attend. I cannot tell you how happy I am that I did. This meeting was just what I needed to hear, to get me refocused on what matters to the Lord. 

Coming from a biblically conservative background and ministering in an African American community is a daunting task. From time to time I have periods of discouragement and I would ask myself the same questions that Kent shared in his introduction. In fact, by the time he was done with the session, I felt he had been "reading my mail." His insights on what every leader should be setting as the goal for success was beneficial to me, at a time when I was being attacked by the "numbers syndrome."

Thankfully, the Lord knew what it would take to snap me out of this, and He orchestrated this Rock Conference just for me. As a bonus, reading "Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome" served to reinforce what I heard during the sessions. My heart is rejoicing. My prayers are focused. My discouragement is gone. My determination to continue has never been stronger. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Partnering with Christian Fellowship Church

Welcome to a new partner in the FiveStone Churches network: Christian Fellowship Church in Itasca, Ill. The church is devoted to Worship, Serve and Grow in relationship with Jesus Christ and others.

Said Senior Pastor Lucas O’Neill: Our partnership with FiveStone Churches will give our fledgling church a chance to get better and stronger. It’s hard to do that by ourselves. We don’t want to do that work alone.

The church website's Who We Are section paints a picture of the church’s work:

Teaching Christ: learning what the Bible says and how it points us to redemption in Jesus.

Reaching Children: passing to our children a love for Jesus and each other.

Building Friendships: sharing our lives through lasting friendships in the family of God.

Addressing Needs: in the humility of Christ, putting others’ interests before our own by identifying and addressing practical needs.

Praying Together: interceding for life transformation and practical needs.

Sharing Christ: finding ways to communicate the gospel to unbelievers in our community.

Lucas and his wife, Tina, have one daughter and two sons: Raquel, 9 years old; Elias, 6; and Lincoln, 3.

In addition to his pastoring role, Lucas teaches homiletics as an adjunct professor at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and is working on a doctor of ministry degree in preaching at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston.

Click here to read a blog article about the relationship between Christian Fellowship Church andFiveStone Churches.

New 5Stone Partner: Calvary Bible Church

FiveStone Churches is delighted to welcome Calvary Bible Church in Ypsilanti, Mich. as a partner church to the FiveStone network. Calvary is a vibrant congregation that is making, baptizing and teaching disciples.

Brian Jones, Calvary’s senior pastor, will join the Elders Council governing board of FiveStone Churches.

So . . . what’s Brian about in local church ministry? I love studying the Scriptures and helping people understand and apply them to their lives, he said.

So why join FiveStone Churches? It’s rooted in our four core commitments: Edify, Protect, Encourage and Support church leaders. Brian’s comments:

Starting a new church can be lonely as you form your core group and are doing all kinds of ministry. It’s difficult to improve your skills in evangelism, preaching, discipleship and administration without mentors who can pass on to you what they've learned.

Having done all these things alone, I know the power of participating in a network of like-minded churches. Calvary’s relationship with FiveStone Churches will give us an opportunity to help plant new churches. And, because FiveStone connects us with leaders of other established churches, we hope to learn from those who are serving the Lord skillfully and to pass on what we've learned as well. We're excited to be part of this new network for the glory of God.

Read more about Brian Jones on the Our Leadership Team page on the FiveStone Churches website.

Check out Calvary Bible Church's website for more about the church.