Something Bigger Than Ourselves
While we are thrilled to be members of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, we should always keep in mind we are members of something much bigger than ourselves—we are members of the Body of Christ. If we can think of ourselves in this light—the combined faith, love, talents, spiritual gifts, and passions we possess, when pooled together, are amazing—and the things we can do are limitless! Read what Paul says about the Body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26:
1 Corinthians 12:12-26 (ESV): For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
The human body works well when every part does its function. In a healthy body, the individual members understand their roles and faithfully carry them out. There is no quarreling over who does what and no concern over who gets the credit because it is all done for the good of the body. A healthy body is the epitome of interdependence—each part dependent upon the parts around it to work in cooperation and harmony with it—so together they can accomplish a greater goal.
So it is with the Body of Christ. When the individual members of a congregation recognize God has given each person unique talents, passions, and spiritual gifts, which are to be employed together for the expansion of God’s Kingdom, exciting things can begin to happen. So don’t just consider the Body of Christ to be the people with whom you worship on a given Sunday. Think of the Body of Christ as those Christians with whom God is asking you to build His Kingdom. Some will be from your congregation—but others will be from like-minded churches in your area. Ask God to show you the part you are to play in this process and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime as God uses you and the Body of Christ to do the work of Jesus in your community and beyond.
The Church is a Family
In Ephesians 2:19 (The Living Bible), Paul writes: Now you are no longer strangers to God and foreigners to heaven, but you are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.
God intends for His people to live in relationship with one another. This verse describes that relationship as a family in which God is the Father and we are His children—brothers and sisters to one another. The household in which we relate to one another is the Church and God makes it clear every Christian is to be a part of that household. Within the Church universal are the individual local churches, each of which comprises a different family. We have a place for you in our church family and ask you to read the remainder of this pamphlet so you can better understand our values, beliefs, practices, and methods.
Our Core Values
Emmanuel means God with us. We use that phrase as an acrostic to remind ourselves of our core values:
G- Good News of Jesus Christ is our ongoing message.
Everything we preach, teach, or present is intended to lead people into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. We want our people to know Jesus and to experience His amazing love and forgiveness in their daily lives. We don’t just want our people to know they are saved—we want them to realize they have been saved for a purpose—to continue the work Jesus Christ began. We want our people to understand accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior transforms them into something new!
John 1:12-13; John 14:12; Romans 8:16; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20; Galatians 2:20
O- Others are more important than ourselves.
We desire our focus to be outward rather than inward. Our goal is not to build Emmanuel Lutheran Church. Our goal is to build God’s Kingdom. Our weekly gatherings equip us to daily impact our world for Christ.
Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10
D- Devotion to prayer and studying God’s Word.
We believe it’s critical that we be people of prayer and Bible study. Prayer is conversation with God—our chance to talk to Him and to hear from Him. Our intimacy with God is dependent upon our prayer lives.
God’s Word is truth. Therefore, we must regularly read and study our Bibles so that we might know Jesus and who we are in Him. Knowing scripture keeps us properly grounded and allows us to withstand the lies and deceptions of the devil. It also reminds us of the many promises and privileges we have in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:1; 1 Thess.5:16-18; John 17:17; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16
W- Worship is crucial.
We believe in the importance of regular corporate worship—both to glorify God and to edify one another. We need each other to encourage, uplift, support, and love one another. Without this frequent interaction, our love for God and one another can easily grow cold. Therefore, we expect our members to worship with us on a regular basis, and to worship somewhere else when they are out of town. Our goal at Emmanuel is to worship God with our entire lives—not just through the time we spend in weekly services.
Psalm 100; Psalm 150; Acts 2:42; Romans 12:1; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 10:24-25
I-Intense reliance on the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is our teacher and guide. Without His presence in our lives we are merely playacting at church. He is the One who opens the Scriptures so we can understand them. He is the One who confirms we belong to Christ and seals us for heaven. He is the One who equips us to live out the Christian life. He is the One who allows us to hear God’s voice. We make it a point to actively seek the Holy Spirit’s presence and involvement in our lives. John 14:25-26; John 16:13-15; Romans 8:9,16; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 14:1
T- Truth is attainable and absolute.
In a day when much of the world considers truth to be relative, we KNOW it to be absolute and attainable. Truth has a name—and His name is Jesus. The Truth Christ brought into the world is revealed to believers daily through God’s Word and by the Holy Spirit. John 14:6; John 14:17; John 17:17; John 18:37
We are called to extend hospitality to one another and to strangers. In this way, we make the love of Christ tangible to the world around us. Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9; Hebrews 13:2
We seek unity within our congregation and within the whole Body of Christ. This doesn’t mean we will agree on every single matter—but it does mean we agree on the important fundamentals of the faith. We look at members of other Christian churches as our brothers and sisters in Christ—not as the competition—and seek to work in cooperation with them for the expansion of God’s Kingdom. John 17:20-21; Romans 15:5-6; Ephesians 4:3
We understand the importance Jesus placed on service and therefore invite all members to find places in which they can serve. We are blessed to be a blessing. Service gives us a way to share our blessings and to receive them in return. John 13:13-17; Ephesians 4:11-13
What We Believe
- In essential beliefs—we have unity,
There is one Body and one Spirit...there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of us all…
- In non-essential beliefs—we have liberty,
“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters...Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls...So then each of us will give an account of himself to God...So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.”
Romans 14:1,4, 12, 22
- In all our beliefs—we show love.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:2
The Essentials We Believe
1. About God:
God is the Creator and Ruler of the universe. He has eternally existed in three personalities: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are co-equal and are one God.
Genesis 1:1,26,27, 3:22; Psalm 90:2; Matthew 28:19; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Corinthians 13:14
2. About Jesus Christ:
Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is co-equal with the Father. Jesus lived a sinless human life and offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all people by dying on the cross. He arose from the dead after three days to demonstrate His power over sin and death. He ascended into heaven’s glory and will return again someday to earth to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Matthew 1:22,23 ; Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1-5; 14:10-30; Hebrews 4:14,15; I Corinthians 15:3,4; Romans 1:3,4; Acts 1:9-11; 1Timothy 6:14,15; Titus 2:13
3. About the Holy Spirit:
The Holy Spirit is co-equal with the father and the Son of God. He is present in the world to make all aware of their need for Jesus Christ. He also lives in every Christian from the moment of salvation. He provides the Christian with power for living, understanding of spiritual truth, and guidance in doing what is right. He gives every believer a spiritual gift(s) when they are saved. As Christians, we seek to live under His control daily.
John 14:16-17, 16: 7-13; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 2:12, 3:16, 12:1-31, 14:1-25; 2 Corinthians 3:17; Ephesians 1:13, 5:18; Galatians 5:22-25
4. About the Bible:
The Bible is God’s Word to us. It was written by human authors under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is the supreme source of truth for Christian beliefs and living. It is the norm and rule of our faith.
Psalm 12:6, 119:105,160 ; Proverbs 30:5; 2 Timothy 1:13, 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21
5. About Salvation:
Salvation is God’s free gift to us. We can never make up for our sin by self-improvement or good works. Only by trusting in Jesus Christ as God’s offer of forgiveness can anyone be saved from sin’s penalty. When we turn from our self-ruled lives and turn to Jesus in faith we are saved. Eternal life begins the moment one receives Jesus Christ into their life by faith.
John 14:6; Romans 5:1, 6:23; Galatians 3:26; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5.
6. About Eternity:
People were created to exist forever. We will either exist eternally separated from God by sin, or eternally with God through forgiveness and salvation. To be eternally separated from God is hell. To be eternally in union with Him is heaven. Heaven and hell are real places of eternal existence.
John 3:16, 14:17: Romans 6:23, 8:17-18; 1 Corinthians 2:7-9; Revelation 20:15
What We Practice
Beliefs aren’t worth much unless they’re translated into actions. Based on what the Bible teaches, we strive to achieve the following seven marks of discipleship:
1. Pray daily. Prayer is the lifeline to the heart of God. Emmanuel provides opportunities for people to learn and experience the many ways and wonders of prayer. We teach people to pray and call on members to pray daily.
2. Worship weekly. From the beginning the followers of Jesus gathered regularly to worship. Worship is a step into the presence of God. Praise is the lynchpin of our community. As members of Emmanuel, we commit to worship God weekly.
3. Read the Bible. The Bible is our sole authority. We practice daily Bible reading and Bible study. The Bible is the basis for all we believe.
4. Serve others. Justice and love are not options for those who follow Jesus. We practice the “Priesthood of all Believers” at Emmanuel. All members are called by Jesus and empowered through the Holy Spirit for ministry. We expect members to use their natural and spiritual gifts to serve others. Toward that end, we believe in training and equipping our people to serve here and outside our church walls.
5. Spiritual friendship. At Emmanuel, we expect people to grow deeper in their love relationship with Jesus. We believe such growth is best fostered through spiritual friendships and the accountability that grows out of such relationships. We highly encourage members to join a small group to help nurture these friendships and their relationship with God.
6. Expect the best. A good attitude is indispensable in living a victorious life. We expect the best because God is for us! He has given us the Spirit of power, love, and self-control.
7. Give generously. At Emmanuel, we practice tithing for the support of Christ’s body, the church, as God commands. We recognize giving 10% of our income is the biblical standard of giving. God does not need our money, but we have a spiritual need to give. We give 10% to God to keep our priorities straight, keeping “First Things First.”
“Tithe so that you may learn to honor the Lord your God always.” Deuteronomy 14:23
Our desire is to make true disciples of our members. Toward that end, we employ a fourfold strategy:
1. First, to teach. People will not follow a God they don’t know and they will not obey a God they don’t love. Our first job is to lead our people into a love relationship with Jesus and to remind them constantly they are forgiven, accepted, empowered and called to something bigger than themselves. We teach extensively about the Holy Spirit and how and what He does to make us useable in the Kingdom of God.
2. Second, to train. People must feel equipped to do the work God is calling them to do. We equip people by training them: to pray with and for one another; to understand and teach God’s Word; to facilitate small groups; to discern their talents and passions; and to use those talents and passions in a way to touch others with the love of Christ.
3. Third, to try. People must be willing to practice what they’ve learned. We seek to give our members safe venues in which they can try their hands at ministry—understanding it may take a person a few tries to find his/her true ministry niche. We believe we must be willing to let someone fail so they can eventually succeed.
4. Fourth, to watch God transform them. People who’ve been encouraged to serve God in a ministry for which they have a passion will become true disciples who understand they also must make disciples. Churches, which practice this sort of discipleship, will bear much fruit for the Kingdom of God.