Why do you have such a simple worship service?
Because we yearn for “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11.3). We hold to the plenary inspiration of Scripture, and strive to uphold its ancient truths. We revel in the message that God is sovereign in all things and is alone worthy of worship. We rejoice in the biblical theme that “salvation is of the Lord,” for in this simple truth He receives all glory and honor and praise. Rooted in New Testament church tradition, our corporate worship is remarkably uncomplicated: congregational a cappella singing, prayer, and biblical preaching. Entire families worship together, creating a strong sense of family solidarity, and extending the pulpit ministry into individual family devotions. This beautiful simplicity is designed to keep Him the center of our focus, the object of our greatest desire: it’s all about Him. Original, Historical Baptist church polity follows in the “free church” tradition of our forebears; because no denominational structure exists, an element of diversity develops between churches of the same identity. Each local assembly answers to none but the great Head of the church, the Lord Jesus. Ahhh. Simple truth, simple worship, simple practice — all centered around a God who is anything but simple: He is infinitely loving, yet infinitely wrathful and sin-avenging; He is infinitely holy, just and glorious, yet intimately interested in His children. He is everything to us. And we’d love to share Him with you!
What’s the difference between Grace Covenant Church and other Baptists?
Modern Baptists are a diverse people. And rather than risk an honest misrepresentation of any particular group’s beliefs, we’ll leave the comparison to you. But here’s something to consider: how do the Baptists you’re familiar with characterize God? Is their view consistent with Scripture? Is He completely sovereign in salvation, or must man meet Him halfway? We firmly believe that God is sovereign in all matters, and that salvation is entirely by His grace and mercy. The sinner doesn’t take the first step, make a decision, or perform some ritual. God alone saves His people. And He does it all the way.
Why don’t you use musical instruments in your worship service?
The widespread use of musical instruments in church worship is a fairly recent development, yet has become so nearly universally accepted that many are fascinated to learn that we worship without accompaniment. But our a cappella worship is not designed to arouse curiosity or fascination; it is instead a principled position. The New Testament — our pattern for church worship — contains several references to music in worship: Matthew 26.30 (paralleled in Mark 14.26); Acts 16.25; Romans 15.9; 1 Corinthians 14.15; Ephesians 5.19; Colossians 3.16; Hebrews 2.12; James 5.13. None of these passages may be applied to musical instrumentation: they deal specifically with vocal exercise — lifting the voice in praise to God. The clear implication is that musical instrumentation in corporate worship is not God’s design. The Old Testament, though, does describe musical instruments in the context of worship. Herein we discover a great biblical truth that complements New Testament teachings. In Old Testament worship, all acceptable sacrifices were dead sacrifices, pointing forward to the coming Christ, the perfect, spotless Lamb whose sacrificial death would atone for sin. Jesus Christ was the last of the dead sacrifices. But His resurrection was pivotal: He became the first of the living sacrifices. And God’s Word today exhorts us to make living sacrifices: “present your bodies a living sacrifice” (Romans 12.1); “offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually” (Hebrews 13.15); “do good and communicate… for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13.16). These are living sacrifices: living bodies, living praise, living works. Old Testament worship was all about death. The tabernacle was constructed of badger skins, wood, silver, gold and linen — all of it dead. The mortal priest wore dead garments. The sacrifice he brought was a dead sacrifice. And the musical instruments played were dead instruments. New Covenant worship is all about life. The Spirit of the Lord dwells in living tabernacles. The Great High Priest, clothed in righteousness, is alive evermore! The sacrifices that we offer are living sacrifices. And the musical instruments we play are living instruments. God’s simple design for music in worship — congregational a cappella singing — completely removes focus from musical performance, and centers our affections on the One to whom all worship is due.
Why don’t you have Sunday Schools and Youth programs?
The Bible commissions parents to shepherd their children. Biblical admonitions are clear: “teach [the Word] diligently to thy children” (Deuteronomy 6.7a); “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22.6a); “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6.4b). Our worship is family-oriented: families worship together. And as they interact in a worship context, children witness the import that their parents ascribe worship, observe the degree of reverence that Mom and Dad have for God, and learn how the family structure is modeled in Scripture. Even young children develop self-discipline as they learn to sit quietly and respectfully during the service. But spiritual training doesn’t stop when the last “Amen” is spoken at a worship service; it continues at home. Parents are to build their lives upon the Word such that it becomes a fundamental underpinning for every aspect of their lives. It is to be a common theme woven through everyday conversation, shared meals, evening walks, bedtime stories, and even discipline (Deuteronomy 6.7). Godly parents seek every opportunity to inculcate biblical attitudes and patterns into their children’s thought processes. Only under direct supervision are parents assured that their children’s spiritual training accords with Scripture. Solid, foundational biblical instruction occurs through moment-by-moment, day-by-day exercise. While spiritual training falls primarily to parents, we of course recognize the import of extra-family socialization. We encourage and foster regular fellowship with other believers, as well as the cultivation of godly mentoring and accountability relationships.
Do you believe in evangelism and outreach ministries?
Sovereign grace beliefs frequently are associated with a lack of evangelistic fervor. We firmly believe, however, that the Doctrines of Grace are the foundation for sound, successful evangelism. We believe that the church’s mission is to spread the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes (Romans 1.16). We are passionate about evangelism, for it brings worship where worship did not previously exist. Individual evangelistic opportunities occur daily as believers model Christ’s love, share with others their joy in walking with Him, and stand ready always to answer the question, “What makes you different?” But our outreach doesn’t stop there: as God has opened international doors of opportunity, faithful servants have been willing to answer the call. Today there are active evangelistic efforts in the Philippines, India and Kenya, as well as radio and tape ministries extending even to remote corners of the world.