We believe the purpose of the church is the glory of God. This is not to be defined by any single activity (e.g. missions, fellowship, preaching etc). Rather the extent to which the collective activities of the church achieve this purpose is the extent to which the church is being found faithful. Historically this has been realised in three directions: upwards (in love for God, in facilitating corporate opportunities for worship, and the private devotions of the people of God who make up the church), inwards (in meaningful fellowship as a body, in discipleship, in love for one another), and outwards (in the evangelistic witness we have to the world, in acts of charity, in love for the lost). We now give clarity and direction as we pursue God’s glory in this outward witness.
The term “outreach” will favoured over the term “missions”, which bears some misunderstanding (often being seen as something exclusively further abroad, international, cross-cultural or foreign). “Outreach” shall be understood to encompass all the evangelistic efforts of the church, locally or abroad, vocational or occasional, and may or may not cross cultural boundaries.
We believe the principal witness of the church shall be seen in the ordinary living of it’s members. We recognize God’s call and gifting of certain individuals to specific evangelistic ministries (see below paragraph). However, we affirm that it is the daily testimony of all Christians, in their respective environments, that shall both bear the greatest gospel testimony and reach the most needy people. We see God’s glory in that He chose “what is foolish in the world to shame the wise [and] what is weak in the world to shame the strong”. As such, we caution against the ‘professionalizing’ of our evangelistic witness, which may discourage ordinary Christians from making their faith known. All Christians have the duty and privilege of personal evangelism.
We believe that God’s call and gifting of some necessitates that they be set aside for vocational ministry, which would include financial support from the church to enable them to focus on such. It is our desire to see, raised up and equipped from the local church, those whom we can send in such capacity. Where possible, it is our desire to fully support said people (pastors, christian workers, ‘missionaries’) from the local church without the need to partner with a para-church organization (e.g. Missions agencies). We do, however, gratefully acknowledge the good done by some of those said groups, and may consider partnership where necessary.
We believe that the faithful, public testimony of the church (especially the preaching) will naturally be Christ-centred and evangelistic. There may on occasion be a greater emphasis on speaking directly to the lost at special services, but spending any amount of time in the church will inevitably result in the gospel being heard. Imported ‘evangelistic experts’ are not necessary, and ‘altar calls’ shall not be made as they they breed much misunderstanding. Furthermore, the teaching of the church is not to be characterized by any one excellency of Scripture (even ‘missions’), but is rather to encompass the whole counsel of God, for the glory of God. Having said that, it is entirely appropriate for seasons of particular emphasis to galvanize / correct / train; especially when shortcomings are evident.
We desire to facilitate opportunities for witnessing through the life of the church (i.e. seminars, youth work, street-evangelism etc). These occasions shall not come be seen as the entirety of the church’s outreach, but merely vessels for such. Suggestions in this regard are most welcome. The Home Fellowship Groups themselves are also to function evangelistically, in prayer and witness (see above paragraph about Christ-centredness).
We believe that training for outreach will take place through the teaching ministries of the church, as part of the natural application of the Scriptures being studied Sunday by Sunday. However, more focussed training opportunities to further equip those in the church for personal witnessing may also be conducted. Those set aside for vocational ministry may benefit from additional tertiary studies at a sound theological institution.
We desire to establish/plant a local church(es), in accordance with certain guiding criteria. The New Testament does not lay out a church-planting strategy, but does record the growth of the church as it’s members take the gospel to their ‘neighbours’ near and far, and is itself strengthened doctrinally. As such we do not wish to be reactive to ‘church planting trends’, some of which have been harmful to the Kingdom of God. Nor to compete with other churches, for we are not accountable to them. Nor again, to establish churches merely as a matter of convenience for Christians who live close by. Our intention is that any church plant should be the consequence of much prayer – arising from a strong desire to see the lost converted. It ought ideally be the consequence of conversions in that locality, even as Paul established churches as a consequence of the fruit of the ministry. It ought to be done with patience, so as to avoid the unnecessary pitfalls that often characterize church plants. It ought to be done using the appropriately called and gifted people. Most especially, it ought to be done strategically, so as to be good stewards with our limited resources, and to avoid infringing upon the witness of another faithful church to the detriment of both. “And thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation” (Rom 15:20; c.f. 2 Corinthians 10:13-16).
We acknowledge with thanksgiving to God, that Goodwood Baptist Church has a history of “informally sending” others. Their testimony has been that the grounding received here was crucial to all their future ministries.
Accordingly, we affirm that the ‘success’ or the faithfulness of our witness shall not be quantified by: the number of those formally commissioned, the number of churches planted, or the number of conversions seen locally. Rather, we desire to be faithful stewards of the Word as we witness; emphasising fidelity to the Lord over a pragmatic pursuit of numerical growth.
We affirm the inability of all human witness to affect spiritual changes, and therefore acknowledge the necessity of abiding prayer in all outreach; asking that Spirit of God would move for His glory’s sake as we proclaim the gospel. All efforts apart from this will be futile, and therefore greater emphasis must needs be given to this intercession. Faithfulness in the small things must precede any grand designs we may otherwise have, and as such our desire is to see more members involved in prayer and outreach locally.
A general principle for the outreach of GBC is that we would not despise the small things. That we would do fewer things well, rather than many things poorly. As has been said, to “support fewer missionaries to the glory of God”; to show our faith by our care and prayer in these matters, and not to by putting God to the test.
We confess both our shortcomings in outreach, and our encouragement at the zeal of many presently in the church. We believe it is the Lord’s hand behind the recent surge in interest for evangelism, and are greatly excited by the prospects for the future. We desire every believer in Goodwood Baptist to be involved in evangelism.
Soli Deo Gloria, and may God help us!