Our Philosophy of Ministry

Believing that the Bible is God's inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word (2 Timothy 3:16), we seek to base all that is done in the church on what the Bible teaches. Because we are a fellowship of human beings, we will always be imperfect and incomplete in this attempt, but our desire would be that of the Protestant Reformers who had a motto which said "Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda" ("the church reformed, always reforming"). Therefore, we will continually strive to bring all that we do under the authority of all that we understand God's Word to teach.

The Bible describes the life of the first Christian church established in Acts 2:42-47. In those verses, we find that church committing themselves to worship, discipleship, ministry, fellowship and evangelism (sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others). It would be our desire that every activity undertaken in Immanuel Baptist Church would be an expression of one or more of those functions.

Baptists have always been committed to the ideal of "regenerate church membership." This means that in order to be a member of a Baptist church, one must be able to give testimony to having placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, thereby becoming "regenerate" or "born again." The New Testament teaches that all who have been thus regenerated by the Holy Spirit are indwelt by the Spirit. His indwelling presence in our lives empowers us to serve God and one another in specific areas of spiritual giftedness (1 Corinthians 12:7). Because every born-again believer in Jesus has the presence of the Holy Spirit and the giftedness of the Spirit, there is no distinction between "Clergy" and "Laity," but all are considered to be part of a priesthood who work together to represent Jesus to one another and the world. There are specific callings (or vocations) of ministry which God has established for the purpose of equipping the believers in Christ to serve in their areas of giftedness (Ephesians 4:11-16). Most relevant of these for the church today is the office of the Teaching Pastor (4:11). Through the expository proclamation of God's Word, the Pastor-Teacher serves the rest of the flock so that each member may grow in spiritual maturity and develop their particular area of spiritual giftedness for the good of the entire body as each one serves one another. Our goal is to involve every member in the service of the church in some way according to the giftedness of each one.

Immanuel's "mission" statement is "A Church for All People." We do not believe that a Christian church should discriminate or "target" particular demographic groups. To do so would indicate that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is only for a certain segment of society. Repeatedly the New Testament makes clear that the Gospel is for all people. Therefore, for over forty years, going back to the days of deep racial tension in our city, Immanuel has boldly made known that we are open to people of all ethnicities and socioeconomic strata. Though "church growth experts" suggest that "homogenous" ministries are more effective and grow more rapidly, we believe strongly that to limit our focus to a particular demographic would be to compromise the Gospel. Therefore, we remain committed to this ideal.

Links to related information:

Pastor Russ's message on the multiethnic vision

Pastor Russ's message on "every member ministry"

Immanuel's Philosophy-Theology of Worship

A list of recommended books that correspond with our philosophy of ministry