South Fellowship Church exists to glorify God by making disciples through:
South Fellowship Church purposes to be a place of gospel transformation; that is, we are changed from the inside out. We envision many people coming to know Jesus as Lord and savior and growing in Him. At South we hold that true growth is centered and rooted in the gospel. We are convinced that the gospel (God’s undeserved mercy and grace towards us through Jesus Christ, crucified in our place and risen from the grave) not only saves us, but also sanctifies us. The gospel serves as the motivation for our continued growth (Romans 12:1-2) and as the method for our growth (Col 3:1-4, Heb 12:1-3, Eph 4:1). The gospel fixes our focus on grace and our worship on Jesus as we live out/embody what He has done on our behalf. Authentic transformation is the natural consequence of our hearts seeking to live out the gospel in our daily lives and relationships.
South Fellowship Church will be a place of life-giving community. Community is a natural outflow and byproduct for how well we understand the gospel. The gospel connects us together; overcoming humanity’s inclination to create divisions and build walls. We believe that one of the evidences of true transformation is that people who have little in common can come together and build relationships marked by grace and truth. Our heartbeat is that fellowship is indeed part of our DNA; that we foster communities where people celebrate together during the good times in life and walk together through the valleys of life. Some of the key components of life-giving community at South are: studying scriptures together, praying together, eating together, partying together, sacrificing for each other, and keeping grace central (Acts 2:42-47). We are convinced that a community shaped by grace could change the world (John 17:20-21).
South Fellowship Church is convinced that true faith is observable. You can see it, touch it, taste it, and hear it (James 2:18). We strive to be a place where the gospel transforms us to the point that it bleeds out of every fiber of our being. This will play out at South in two distinct ways. First, we will be a people passionate about reaching the lost (2 Cor 5:14-21)! Our heart is that people see the light we reflect from Jesus and praise our Father in heaven. We will do everything we can to help people step into a life-changing relationship with Jesus. Second, we will work for the good of our city; longing to see it prosper and grow (Jer 29:4-7). We know that God calls us to make an impact far beyond our walls. We will be a people who create change in our workplaces, our communities, and our world.
What We Believe
At South Fellowship Church, we welcome people from all backgrounds and at any spiritual level. Our functions and services are open to any person who is willing to come and explore the Christian faith. Questions are allowed, and discussions on theology and life issues are welcomed! We believe that love and acceptance are the greatest marks of a mature Christian. We recognize that we are all on a spiritual journey. Our hope is that people will come seeking truth about life and eternity. We know that we are all still growing, and that we may be wrong sometimes in our understanding of the Bible. Having said this, we also believe we need to be authentic with each other, and state clearly what we believe at this point of our journey.
THE NEED FOR HUMILITY, GRACE, AND LOVE
As we discuss our theological positions among ourselves or with other people, we are committed to remembering several keys about the nature of theological discussions:
- No human or organization knows God’s Truth perfectly, for we are imperfect vessels. Humility is to be our watchword.
- Spiritual growth (faith in developmental) is an ongoing process. Therefore, our maturity should increase over time, and our wisdom about theology and life should grow as well.
- The church needs people who are different, and who humbly hold differences of opinion. We will seek to be good listeners.
- Love is the preeminent mark of a Christian. Therefore, we will value “being loving” as we seek and discuss theological truth.
- Our goal is not perfect theology, but functional unity as we serve God and become transformed into Christ’s image. The Bible reminds us often to work and grow together as we wrestle to live out our faith, recognizing that it is God who gave us different roles. 
THE NEED FOR THEOLOGICAL STANDARDS At its core, Christianity is really about (1) what we believe to be true and (2) who we place our faith in. What we believe is important! In theological terms, what we believe is often called “doctrine” or “standards.” This document is designed to clearly disclose what we believe in at South Fellowship Church, and to help those who gather together to live out our lives faithfully. “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:16
Although it isn’t a new phenomenon, today we live in a world of many “gods” and belief systems. Throughout history, orthodox Christians have united around a short list of “essential truths” to help keep clear the beliefs of Christianity. As strange or “new” teachings arose around them in every generation, Christians often wrote down these biblical essentials as “Creeds,” “Confessions,” or “Statements of Faiths.” The Apostle Paul wrote what is considered the first creed around 50 AD, recorded in Corinthians 15:1-9. Some important examples are the Apostles’ Creed (2nd Century) and the Nicene Creed (325 AD), both shown on page 3, as well as others like the Westminster Confession of Faith (A standard of reformed doctrine written in 1646 AD). The purpose of these historical statements was and is to define and reaffirm the core beliefs of the Christian Faith, so that what we believe would have accuracy, stability, and roots. Taken together, the eight essentials below express historic essential beliefs common to these early confessions, and central for all true Christian believers and churches throughout the world and throughout the ages. At South Fellowship Church, we believe in these ancient truths, and try to live our lives by them every day of our lives. We desire to practice these historic elements of faith in real, tangible ways today. This is why we sometimes call ourselves an “Ancient-Future” Church. NOTE: These following Doctrinal Essentials from the Bible are drawn in nature and detail from the historic creeds of our faith. We offer these essentials in a plain, more modern language style with few theological terms to help in discussion and understanding. More specific and detailed theological statements, including Bible references, are included after this in the THEOLOGICAL DISCUSSION sections.
THE HISTORIC ESSENTIALS:
We believe that the Bible is God’s own Word, written by men prepared and carried along by His Spirit. The Bible is inspired by God and is the exact testimony that God desires humanity to have of his nature and character. We believe that the Bible is to be believed as God’s instruction in all that it affirms; obeyed as God’s command in all that it requires; embraced as God’s pledge in all that it promises. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to the person and work of Jesus the Messiah (Psalms 19:7-9; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Luke 24:27).
The Godhead (Trinity)
We believe in one God, eternally existing in three persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three are identical in essence and equal in power and glory; they possess the same nature, attributes, and perfections, and are worthy of the same worship, confidence, and obedience (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 12:29; John 1:1-4; Acts 5:3-4; 2 Corinthians 13:14).
The Person and Work of Jesus
We believe that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became man without ceasing to be God, being conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He came to reveal God to mankind and to redeem our sinful race by giving Himself as a sinless substitutionary sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, satisfying God’s righteous judgments against sin. He then arose bodily from the dead and ascended to the Father’s right hand where He intercedes on the believer’s behalf. All the Scriptures, from first to last, testify of Him (Luke 1:34-35; 24:27; John 1:1-2, 14, 18; Romans 3:24-26; 8:34).
The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is the Divine Person who convicts the world of sin, gives eternal life to those who place their trust in Christ, unites all believers to Christ in one body by His baptizing ministry, indwells them permanently, seals them unto the day of redemption, fills (controls) those who are yielding to Him, and empowers them for service. He seeks to direct their attention not to themselves nor to their experience, but to Christ (John 3:5-8; 14:16-17; 16:7-11; 16:13-14; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:30; 5:18).
The Condition of Man
We believe that man was originally created in the image and after the likeness of God, free from sin. He subsequently fell into sin by a voluntary act of personal disobedience to the revealed will of God, lost his spiritual life, and became dead in sins and corrupt in nature. These effects of sin have been transmitted to the entire human race, Jesus Christ excepted, and thus every person born into the world is alienated from the life of God and incapable of remedying his lost and depraved condition apart from divine grace (Genesis 1:26; 3:1-24; 6:5; Psalms 51:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10-18; 5:12; Ephesians 2:1-3).
The Means of Salvation
We believe that salvation from the guilt and condemnation of sin is possible only as the gift of God’s grace. It cannot be gained by good resolutions, sincere efforts, nor submission to the rules, regulations, or ordinances of any church, but is freely bestowed on all who put their faith in Christ and trust in the work which Christ accomplished on the cross of Calvary. All who so trust the Savior pass from death unto life, are forgiven of their sins, accepted by the Father, and born into His family by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God (John 5:24; Ephesians 1:6-7; 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:23).
We believe that all who have placed their faith in Christ are united by the Holy Spirit into one spiritual body, the Church, of which Christ is the Head. This body was formed on the day of Pentecost and will be completed at the coming of Christ for His own. The members of this one spiritual body are directed to associate themselves together in local assemblies for instruction, worship, prayer, fellowship, service, and the administration of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. They are likewise to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:42-47; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; 12:13; Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:3).
Our Life in Christ
We believe that all who have been born again by God’s transforming grace are secure in Christ forever. It is their privilege to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation, not on the basis of their own worthiness, but on the basis of God’s faithfulness and the testimony of His Word. However, this assurance must not become an occasion for sin. The reality of their faith in Christ is demonstrated by subjecting their fleshly natures to the power of the Holy Spirit and by doing the good works for which He saved them, especially by demonstrating a Christlike love for one another. We believe that corporate and individual worship are essential parts of every believer’s relationship to God and that having personal fellowship with God on a regular and consistent basis is essential for Christian growth. We believe that everything we have belongs to God, that He is the Owner. (Matthew 7:20; John 10:27-29; 13:34-35; Romans 6:13; 8:28-39; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 2:10; 1 John 3:14,23; 5:13).
The Gifts of the Spirit
We believe that enabling gifts for service are bestowed according to God’s own will upon all believers by the Spirit of God to be exercised for the edification of the Church and for the glory of the Lord. These gifts are sovereignly bestowed by God in order to fulfill specific purposes in His program (Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 27-31; 13:8-10; 14:21- 22; 2 Corinthians 12:7-9; Ephesians 4:7-13; Hebrews 2:3-4; 1 Peter 4:10-11; 2 Timothy 4:20).
The Culmination of History
We believe in the personal, bodily, visible return of Christ Jesus in the glory of His Father to set up on the earth a kingdom in which He shall reign in righteousness and peace. We believe in the bodily resurrection of all people: believers to enjoy eternal life with God; unbelievers to experience judgment and then eternal suffering apart from God (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 3:10; 19:11-16; 20:1- 6).
Including and developing from these essentials, there are a number of doctrinal values which we hold. To us, doctrine, beliefs, and life standards may be divided into three groups: A. That which is essential for salvation (that which is, in our opinion, required to be a true Christian). B. That which is essential for leadership at South Fellowship Church. Those fulfilling the office or role of Pastor, Elder, Deacon, and/or Teacher are considered to be “leadership.” C. Those doctrines or issues on which we allow latitude, or agree to disagree on while remaining in relationship.
A. DOCTRINE ESSENTIAL FOR SALVATION
A religious man once asked Jesus, “What must I do to gain eternal life?” Jesus’ answer is clear: “Come, follow me.” Some people may think that we gain eternal life or go to heaven based on where we were born, or through the faith of our parents. They may believe that one can become a Christian through being good, through fulfilling some religious act, or through attending a certain church. None of these is the key to really being a Christian. Christianity is really about believing in Jesus and following him. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 What is required to be saved? In theological terms, we believe salvation is a free gift offered to mankind by God through the finished work (the life, death, and resurrection) of Jesus Christ. It is God who first reaches out to us, and no one comes to eternal life without the Spirit drawing them. God is the Power Source and Actor in the work of salvation. Mysteriously, God offers eternal life as he sees best, based on his deep love and compassion for humanity. But, from a human perspective, in order to be saved and gain eternal life, some response is generated and acknowledged. A person is called on by God to repent of his or her sin and receive and accept Jesus Christ as Lord (personal master, ruler, or King) and Savior (the one who redeems us from the just judgment we each deserve.) Each individual must trust alone in what Christ has done to receive that salvation. This can be stated in a simpler, less theological way: To be a Christian, a man or woman must—as led and drawn by God’s Spirit—recognize their need for spiritual forgiveness, must then believe that Jesus as God is the means of spiritual forgiveness, and then invite Jesus to come in and lead their life. This is all that any person must believe to be a Christian. While God offers us more directions for leading a life that is joyful, peaceful and holy, Christian faith is this simple. Christians use varying phrases from the Bible to express this place of choosing to follow Jesus: personal faith, salvation, being saved, being born again, meeting Jesus, and becoming a Christian. A person who denies the above would not be considered a Christian. While we may have a loving relationship and friendship with such a person, we could not have true Christian fellowship. (Eph. 2:8‑ 9; John 1:12; John 3:16; Acts 16:31)
B. DOCTRINE ESSENTIAL FOR LEADERSHIP
Throughout Christianity, the essential for salvation is consistent. The essential doctrines of our Christian faith have not changed. On the other hand, doctrine essential for leadership in local churches may vary greatly—it may even vary in one place from time to time. Additionally, no local church or denomination, including us, has the perfect set of doctrinal rules, because no human can fully know the mind of God. The Elder Board, the governing board of our church, has over many years prayerfully considered which doctrines best define what we see as God’s instructions in the pages of the Bible. Humbly, the Elder Board has set certain doctrines as essential for those who are in leadership at this church. They include the essential historic doctrines above, but are more specific and detailed in nature. NOTE: These doctrines are not set in stone, and are to be reviewed regularly. An individual at South Fellowship may disagree with some of these doctrines and still be a good Christian, an active participant in the life of the church, and a church member. While they could serve in most capacities, they could not serve in a leadership role (Pastor, Elder, Deacon, or doctrinal Teacher). When these doctrines are taught, it should be explained that they are not essential for salvation. We may certainly state the case for our position, but we should be careful to point out that, in many cases, sincere and intelligent Christians hold different positions.
1. WHAT WE BELIEVE ABOUT GOD
Natural Attributes We believe that there is but one living and true God, who is infinite in perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory. (Ex. 34:6,7; Deut. 6:4; 10:17; Num 16:22; Ex 15:11; 33:19; Isa 44:6; Hab. 3:6; Ps 102:26; Job 34:12; Rev 5:12 and 7:12.) Moral Attributes We believe that God is most loving, gracious, merciful, long‑suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin;the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and Most just and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will be no means clear the guilty. (from the Westminster Confession) Trinity We believe in one God eternally existing in three equal persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. (Deut. 6:4; Isa. 48:16; Matt. 28:19; John 6:27; Acts 5:3‑4; 11 Cor. 13:14; Heb. 1:8).
2. WHAT WE BELIEVE ABOUT GOD’S INTERACTION WITH HUMANITY
Creation & Fall We believe that mankind was created in the image of God, and that Adam and Eve sinned and consequently experienced not only physical death but also spiritual death (which is separation from God). The consequences of this sin affect the entire human race. All human beings are born with a sinful nature (Gen. 1:26‑27; Gen. 2:17; Mark 7:20‑23; John 2:24‑25; Rom. 5:12‑19; Eph. 2:1‑3; Eph. 4:18) Incarnation We believe that, in order to remedy this situation, God the Son became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, who was begotten by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, and who is true God and true man. (Matt. 1:18‑25; Matt. 26:38; Mark 7:20‑23; John 2:24‑25; John 8:40; John 11:33; Heb. 1:8; Heb. 2:14) Atonement We believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins as a substitutionary sacrifice and that all who believe in Him are declared righteous on the basis of His shed blood. (Mark 10:45; Rom. 3:21‑26; Rom. 5:8‑9; II Cor. 5:14; Gal. 3; 1 Peter 3:18) Resurrection We believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ, in His ascension into heaven, and in His present life there for us. Jesus now serves as high priest, intercessor, and advocate in our behalf with the Father. (John 20:25‑27; Acts 1:9‑11; Rom. 1:4; Heb. 7:25; 1 John 2:1) Return of Christ We believe in the personal, bodily, visible return of Christ Jesus Christ in the glory of His Father to set up on the earth a kingdom in which He shall reign in righteousness and peace. (Isa. 9:6‑7; Isa. 11:2‑5; Matt. 24:30; Acts 1:11; Rev. 20:4‑6) Salvation We believe that whoever by faith receives Jesus Christ as His Savior becomes a child of God. His salvation is not the result of any human effort or merit. (John 1:12; Rom. 3:28; Gal. 3; Eph. 2:8‑9; 1 John 5:11‑13) Eternal Security We believe that once a person is saved, it is impossible for him to lose his salvation. He is kept eternally secure by the power of God through the new birth, the indwelling and sealing of the Holy Spirit, and the intercession of Christ. (John 10:25‑30; John 14:16‑17; Rom. 8:33S‑39; Eph. 4:30; Phil. 1:6; 1 Peter 1:23) Role of the Holy Spirit We believe that there is a person, possessing all the distinctively divine attributes. He is God. He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He regenerates, seals, and sets apart the believer to a holy life. He baptizes the believer into the body of Christ and comes to indwell him permanently (Isa. 40:13‑14; Ps. 139:7; John 3:5‑7; John 7:37‑39; John 14:16‑17; John 16:8; Acts 1:8; Rom. 8:9; 26‑27; 1 Cor. 2:10‑11; I Cor. 12:13; Eph. 1:13; 11 Thess. 2:13; Titus 3:5) Baptism of the Spirit We believe that there is only one baptism of the Holy Spirit. This occurs at conversion at which time one receives the Holy Spirit in the Spirit’s entirety. Christians may have subsequent meaningful experiences with the Holy Spirit. Any subsequent experience should properly be called a “filling of the Spirit” and not a “second baptism.” It is necessary for each Christian to be continually filled by the Spirit by confessing sin and yielding his life to the Master. (I Cor. 12:13; Eph. 1:13; Eph. 4:4; Eph. 5:18‑21; Col. 2:9‑10) Gifts of the Holy Spirit We believe that believers receive from the Holy Spirit spiritual gifts which they should endeavor to discover, develop, and use to serve and build up the Body. The Body functions most effectively when gifts are being properly exercised. However, the fruit of the Spirit, not spiritual gifts, are the evidences of being filled by the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 12:6‑8; 1 Cor. 12:7‑27; Eph. 4:7‑13) Exercise of Spiritual Gifts We believe in the exercise of all the spiritual gifts according to the guidelines given by Scripture. If a message is given by a spiritual gift, the message cannot contradict or add to Scripture which is final and complete. (I Cor. 2:4‑11; 1 Tim. 6:3‑5; 1 Pet. 4:10) Sanctification We believe that all believers still possess a sinful nature in this life, but that God has made full provision for believers to overcome this sinful nature and to live for God through identification with Christ, a knowledge of the Scriptures, and by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We recognize that this is a process which will not be completed until we see Jesus face to face. (Rom. 5:12‑19; Rom. 6:1‑14; Rom. 8:11‑17; Eph. 2:1‑10). The Bible We believe God, Who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to Himself. We believe that the Bible, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible, divine authority in all matters upon which it touches. It is inerrant in its entirety. This includes the fields of history and science as well as spiritual, religious, and redemptive themes. (We use the word “inerrant” not in the sense of being absolutely precise by modern standards, but in the sense of always making good its claims and achieving that measure of focused truth at which its authors aimed.) We believe that the Bible is to be believed as God’s instruction in all that it affirms; obeyed as God’s command in all that it requires; embraced as God’s pledge in all that it promises. (Matt. 5:18; John 10:35; John 16:12‑15; 1 Cor. 2:13; 1 Cor.2:14‑16; 11 Tim. 3:16; 11 Peter 1:21) Bodily Resurrection We believe in the bodily resurrection of all men. Believers ‘are resurrected Resurrection to enjoy eternal life with God. Unbelievers are resurrected to experience judgment and then eternal suffering apart from God. (Dan. 12:2; John 5:28‑29; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:13‑17; Rev. 20:4‑6, 12‑15; Rev. 21:1‑8) Baptism We believe that baptism, whether by immersion, pouring, or sprinkling, is a sign and testimony of a person’s saving relationship with Jesus Christ. We believe that every Christian should, out of obedience to the Word of God, and as a public identification with Jesus Christ, be baptized. Children who become Christians should wait to be baptized until they can understand the reason, method and significance of the sacrament. (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Eph. 4:5) Lord’s Supper We believe that Christians are to celebrate Communion until He returns. This celebration reminds Christians of Christ’s body broken and blood shed for our sins. (Luke 22:14‑23; 1 Cor. 11:17‑30) Lordship We believe that Christ should have control of every area of a believer’s life. There are no activities, thoughts, or decisions in which God is not concerned, and His will should be sought accordingly. Jesus Christ should be Lord of our work, play, thoughts, and speech every day in all situations, as well as Lord of our ministry and service to Him. (Rom. 14:23; 1 Cor. 6:19‑20; I Cor. 10:31; Phil. 1:21) Worship We believe that corporate and individual worship are essential parts of every believer’s relationship to God. We set aside specific times for corporate verbal praise, thanksgiving, adoration, and acknowledgment of the acts, attributes and qualities of God. According to Romans 12:1, individual obedience to God, service to fellowmen and evangelism in our every day lives are forms of worship, as well as our verbally describing God’s worth in a public worship service. (Ex. 34:14; Ps. 29:1‑2; John 4:23‑24; Rom. 12:1) Fellowship With God We believe that having personal fellowship with God on a regular and consistent basis is essential for Christian growth. The means of this fellowship with God is spending time praying, learning from the Word of God, and applying its truths to our lives. (Ps. 1; Ps. 5:3; Ps. 119; Ps. 145:2; Col. 3:16; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17) Stewardship We believe that everything we have belongs to God, that He is the Owner (Haggai 2:8; Deut. 8:18; I Cor. 4:7), and that a Christian is a steward of all God has given him to care for (I Cor. 4:2). We express our commitment to God’s ownership by giving back to Him a portion of what He has given to us. We determine the amount by asking Him for His wisdom (James 1:5). As we do this, we should give attention to what His Word says about tithing (Mal. 3:10; Luke 11:42), giving cheerfully (II Cor. 9:7‑15), and giving the first fruits, expecting God to meet our needs. (Prov. 3:9‑10; 11 Cor. 9:6‑10)
3. WHAT WE BELIEVE ABOUT THE FAMILY
Family We believe that next to God the family is our most important priority and responsibility. Our families are a greater priority than our ministries. The family is the most important unit in our society and, as a church, we are committed to ministering to the family and enabling each member to live out his or her God‑given role and responsibilities. (Gen. 2; Deut. 6; Ps. 127; 1 Tim. 3) Husbands We believe that God has appointed the husband as the head of the family. He is to love his wife (Eph. 5:2533), to provide for and protect her (I Tim. 5:8), to lovingly lead her (I Pet. 3:6), to be considerate of her (I Pet. 3:7), and to nurture her spiritually (Eph. 5:25-33). Wives We believe that submission is designed to be mutual within the family, as per Eph 5:21: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” We believe that God has called the wife to respect her husband and submit to him as he exercises godly loving leadership in the home. She is to do him good and not evil and is to develop a gentle and quiet spirit. (Prov. 31:10‑12; Eph. 5:22‑33; Col. 3:18; 1 Pet. 3:1‑6) Parents We believe that parents are given the primary responsibility for the spiritual training of their children. They are not to exasperate their children but to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. The church is to be a supplement but never a replacement for the role of parents in training children. (Deut. 6:4‑9; Ps. 127:3‑5; Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21) Children We believe that children are to be submissive to their parents and to seek to honor them. A child who is married or living away from home is to continue to honor his parents and to seek their counsel for his life. (Ex. 20:12; Col. 3:20; Eph. 6:1‑3) Abortion We believe that from conception a preborn is a person (Gen. 1:26; Ps. 139; Jer. 4:4‑10). We believe that all persons, male and female, are made in the image of God and, therefore, have eternal worth (Gen. 1:26‑27). Therefore, we believe that it is wrong to intentionally take the life of a preborn through abortion. Marriage We believe God instituted marriage. (Gen. 2:24). We believe marriage is symbolic of the relationship between Christ and the Church. (Eph. 5:22‑23) We believe it is God’s intention that marriage be a permanent, supportive relationship between one man and one woman. (Matt‑19:4‑6) It is God’s intention that Christians not intentionally marry non-Christians. (2 Cor. 6:14) Divorce Nowhere in the Bible does God condone divorce, and indeed, He says at one point: “I hate divorce…” (Malachi 2:16). However, because we live in a fallen world, the Bible gives guidelines to the Church on how to handle divorce. While divorce is always sinful and traumatic, it is not a sin that stands above others in the Bible. Like all who sin and repent, God is able to forgive and use divorced people in his work and Kingdom. Remarriage Several circumstances about remarriage are dealt with specifically in the Bible. A widow or widower is free to remarry a believer. (Rom. 7:1‑14; 1Cor. 7:38-9). If an unbeliever divorces a believer (for whatever reason), the believer is free to remarry a believer. (1Cor. 7:12‑17). A believer whose spouse (believer or unbeliever) has committed adultery is free to divorce and remarry. (Matt. 19:9). All areas of remarriage are complicated and difficult, and so any remarriage should be under taken patiently, with great care, and with the wisdom of other wise Christians.
4. WHAT WE BELIEVE ABOUT THE CHURCH
Body of Christ We believe that when a man, woman, boy or girl receives Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, they are “born again” (John 3:1‑21) into another family beyond their natural, human family and now have God as their Father (John 1:12‑13; Gal. 3:26). By nature, this family must include both sexes and all ages (Mark 10:28‑31; 1 Tim. 5:1‑2; Titus 2:1‑8) and they all must learn to function together. We call this by different names taken from the Bible: the Family of Faith, the Body of Christ, and the Church. Universal Church We believe that the Church in its invisible form is universal, the true body Church of Christ. All believers from the day of Pentecost until Jesus’ return are members of the universal church, regardless of organizational affiliation. (Acts 11:15‑18; Eph. 4:4‑6; Col. 1:18; l Thess. 4:13‑17) Maturity in the Body We believe that all believers are to give attention to becoming spiritually Body mature in order to junction in the body of Christ. The emphasis of Scripture for individuals is on the qualities of Christian maturity, and for the corporate body of Christ, the development of faith, hope and love. (I Cor. 13:13; Eph. 1:15‑18; Col. 1:3‑5; 1 Thess. 1:3; 11 Thess. 1:3‑4) Spiritual Reproduction We believe in the process of spiritual reproduction and transference as God’s method for building the body and reaching the world. The goal of spiritual reproduction is to produce mature Christians who are able to transfer their maturity to others (I Thess. 1:6‑8; 11 Tim. 2:2). All the members and gifts of the body are needed to accomplish spiritual reproduction. (Rom. 12:4‑8; 1 Cor. 12:12) Every Member A Missionary We believe that every member of Christ’s Church is to be a missionary – “one who is engaged in living out and doing Jesus’ ministry”–and that all believers in Jesus are New Testament era priests. (Eph.4:11‑2, 1 Peter 2:9). As ministers and priests, we are to “own the ministry of the local church” through prayer, intercession, giving, and service. God has also given each of us a call to be missionaries in our own neighborhoods, schools, and jobs. We are to be the ambassadors of Jesus to the world. Full Time, Vocational Ministry We believe that God calls some members of the body into full‑time, vocational ministry in order that they might equip the other members of Body for ministry. This call into full-time, vocational ministry is based on a man or woman having demonstrated the ability to equip other Christians to do ministry. (Eph. 4:11‑12) Church Leadership We believe in an Elder form of church government (I Pet. 5:1‑5). We believe that the Biblical norm is multiplicity of leadership (I Tim. 5:17, Acts 6:1-6) and that decisions ideally should be made by unanimity (consensus) of those in leadership (Acts 15:23‑25). This implies teamwork, a committed love for one another as a model to the body and to the world (John 13:34‑35; 1 Pet. 5:3), and commitment to the same basic body of doctrine and philosophy of ministry (Amos 3:3). We believe that the best reading of the Bible is that only men are to be chosen as elders (I Tim. 3:1‑7). To be an elder, a man must have developed a lifestyle which demonstrates all of the character qualities described in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Women and the Church We affirm that God gives all gifts–including teaching and leadership—to both men and women. We believe that godly women have and continue to offer incredible shepherding and guidance to the church (Luke 8:1-3, Romans 16:1-16, Phil. 4:2-3). We believe that God in His wisdom created men and women as equal spiritual beings, but appointed them to different roles in the church. These roles are equally important and pleasing in the Church to God. Specifically, God has appointed Elders to be accountable for the church and the rest of the body are to support them through the full exercise of their gifts. Deacons We believe that deacons are men and women who are gifted by the Holy Spirit in the areas of service and administration and called by God to serve in the role of deacon and deaconess at South Fellowship. To be a deacon a person must have developed a lifestyle which demonstrates all of the character qualities described in I Tim. 3:8‑13. Servant Leadership We believe that the main qualification for leadership is a servant’s heart. The heart of a servant, which is humility, must be demonstrated before a person is given leadership responsibility. (Phil. 2:3‑4; 1 Pet. 5:1‑3) Shepherding We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has entrusted to the leadership of His Church the task of shepherding His Body. Shepherding involves spiritually feeding, caring for, and watching over the souls of believers. (John 21:15‑17; Heb. 13:17)
5. WHAT WE BELIEVE ABOUT OUR RELATIONSHIP TO THE WORLD
Spiritual Warfare We believe in the reality and personality of Satan, and that when given the opportunity, he attempts to defeat Christians. However, we believe Christians can discover and overcome Satan’s schemes by applying Scriptural truth. (job 1:6‑12; Luke 10:18; John 8:44; Eph. 6:10‑18) Evangelism We believe that Christians should proclaim the good news of Christ and salvation to non‑saved persons, starting first in their own community, then throughout the whole world. (Acts 1:8; I Cor. 10:31‑33; 1 Cor. 14:25; 1 Pet. 3:15) Missions We believe that Jesus gave the church a clear, spiritual mandate to “make disciples of all nations.” ‘Therefore, it is the responsibility of each local body to contribute to this God‑ordained program by training, sending and supporting individuals and teams for local and cross-cultural evangelism, discipleship and church planting. (Matt. 28:19) Social Concern We believe that when God created man, He gave him the cultural mandate to fill the earth by his creative powers and subdue it with his or her powers of authority and management (Gen. 1:28). This responsibility of creating and controlling has never been lifted; therefore, it is a biblical Christian concern to become involved in politics, social programs, moral and social ethics, and environmental control and development.
Throughout history, churches have struggled to find the right balance of doctrine and freedom. In our differences, many disagreements have arisen. To minimize this, we have many areas of faith practice which we leave to individual conscience. This involves the doctrines not discussed above, on which two Christians may hold different views and still be friends, members of the same church, and members of the same leadership group. This is not to say that discussions in these areas are unimportant. We simply believe that in these areas, the Bible is not perfectly clear, or open to differing understandings. In these cases, Christians at South Fellowship simply offer grace to one another, and agree to disagree. Some examples might be: modes of baptism, the time of Christ’s return, the type of bread used in communion, the age of the earth, the best Bible version, the style of music used in worship, the most appropriate expression of spiritual gifts, spiritual warfare, civil involvement or disobedience, and others. When doctrines like these are taught, it should be explained that they are not essential for salvation or for leadership. We may state the case for our positions, but we should point out that, in many cases, sincere and intelligent Christians hold different positions. PLEASE NOTE: This Statement of Faith is continually being reviewed and refined. There are many points of doctrine which are not mentioned. By their omission, we are simply stating that we do not feel that it is necessary for leadership to be in agreement over these points at this time.  Eph. 4:11-16 reads, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Romans 12:16-19 adds, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Finally, 1 Peter 1:22 includes this command: “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-9 / NLT reads: “Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters,of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place. I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I, Paul, also saw him.”  The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646 AD) is a longer statement from which many Reformers and Presbyterians derive their theological traditions. Although South is an independent church, we find our roots in many of these reformed doctrines. A complete on-line copy of a modern English version can be found at ww.epc.org.