Recognition of a local church

A local church is the company of christian believers gathered together in one particular place by the work of God. It is properly distinguished by a membership which

1. is committed to a clear affirmation of sound biblical doctrine;

Acts 2:42; 1 Tim. 4:6, 7, 13, 16; 6:20; 2 Tim. 1 :13.

2. consists of those who have confessed, by believer’s baptism, their faith in Jesus Christ as their own Lord and Saviour and are living a godly life;

Acts 2:38; 10:47, 48; Gal. 3:27; Acts 18:8 cf. 1 Cor. 1:2.

3. is given, each to the other, in fellowship, prayer, worship, mutual service and evangelism;

2 Cor. 8:5; 1 Thess. 1 :2, 3, 7-9; Acts 2:42.

4. is provided, under God, with an eldership to regulate and maintain the ministry of the Word, the regular observance of the ordinances, and the exercise of a biblical discipline.

1 Tim. 3:1-7, 15; 5:17; Titus 1:5-9.

Without these distinguishing marks, a group of believers does not form a properly constituted church. Such a company, lacking these features, ought to seek the guidance and ministry of the eldership of a neighbouring church.

For the sake of peace and unity among the churches, it is desirable that a newly constituted church should be recognised by the other fellowships. Where the new church arises from outreach work, it will be recognised also by the church from whose outreach it has sprung.