Our Distinctives
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1) Focus on the Greatest Command as the Central Core of Everything We Do

The most important way to understand the heart and soul of the ministry at Agape is to listen to the Loving God with all Your Heart sermon series. Loving God is more than mere obedience or commitment (1 Cor.13:1-3). At the core, love arises out of desire and delight. More than anything else we must strive to increase delight in God.

For this reason, all teaching ministries have the primary purpose of enabling people to take greater delight in God by showing more clearly what God is like. This includes children’s ministries. Rather than the traditional approach of mainly teaching children correct behavior, our first priority is to teach children what God is like.
 
2) High View of Scripture and Expository, In-Depth Preaching/Ministry

There are two kinds of preaching:
 
General knowledge preaching is when the content of the sermon comes out of the teacher’s pool of knowledge, beliefs experiences or readings from other books and is augmented or supported by the Bible.
Expository preaching is when all of the content of the message comes out of the text of Scripture. The preacher doesn’t think of it, he finds it.

Expository preaching feeds the soul with nourishment from heaven; general knowledge preaching does not.
Expository preaching delivers the wisdom of God to the believers heart, causing spiritual strengthening and growth and a deepening love for God; general knowledge preaching is human wisdom that empties the gospel of its power (1 Cor.1:17). Sitting under general knowledge preaching is like eating a constant diet of only plastic fruit. Over time you will become spiritually malnourished.

It is not always easy to discern between the two kinds of preaching (plastic fruit often looks just like real fruit). Both may contain numerous references to Scripture, go phrase-by-phrase through a Scripture text, and even have discussions of Greek or Hebrew words. General knowledge preaching is often disguised as expository preaching in this way.

One way to discern the difference is by paying close attention to the points of application for your life. Are the main lessons for application demanded by the Scripture text, or do they arise out of an illustration, story, or the pastor’s own experience?

The Scriptures not only govern the preaching, but all aspects of ministry. All leadership decisions, ministry emphases, events, projects, programs, etc. must exist only as an outworking of biblical principles.
 
3) Prayer Groups

Our prayer group ministry is an essential part of our worship service. As our church grows larger, Prayer Groups keep us closely connected as a family. It is impossible to develop the close-knit relationships we so desperately need simply by singing and listening to sermons together.

In your Prayer Groups you will be asked, “How can we pray for you this week?” and someone in the group will commit to pray for your request each day all week long until the group meets again. This means every person at Agape is prayed for by name every day for as long as they attend this church.

And as requests are shared, opportunities arise to discuss the nuts and bolts of how to apply God’s Word to the specific issues we face in life. And the result has been countless answered prayers, ministry to one another, and the development of deep friendships. It is a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere, so you can develop friendships without having to be an extrovert. And when you need help moving, or find yourself in a hospital bed, there is a group of brothers and sisters who know and care about what is going on in your life, and who are there for you when you need them.

One of the foundation stones of our prayer group ministry is Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
 
4) Biblical Philosophy of Ministry

What are we?       The body of Christ, bride of Christ, household of God, and royal priesthood.
 
What do we do?   Express, spread, and deepen delight in the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
How do we do it? By applying the Word of God to the hearts of men and women.
 
We are called to showcase the glory of God and to receive and dispense God’s grace through the gifts to cultivate love, holiness, and worship through faith in Christ.

We reject trends that emphasize drawing greater numbers of unbelievers above bringing believers to maturity, such as the seeker-sensitive movement, emergent church movement, or missional movement.

We also reject the model of attempting to reach people’s hearts by first meeting their physical needs or otherwise attempting to “earn the right” to give them the good news. In John 6 Jesus rebuked the crowd for coming to Him because of the fact that He had given them food.

We follow the same approach with youth ministry. Rather than attracting students who are not interested in the things of God using celebrity speakers, skate parks, events, etc., our goal is to make the Word of God the draw, so it is students who have a hunger and thirst for righteousness who are attracted to the group. There are games and fun, but the primary focus at youth group is expository teaching, prayer, and God-focused worship. This has a very powerful evangelistic effect. When an unbelieving student comes, rather than finding a culture of mostly unbelieving students, that student is surrounded by a group of peers who deeply love the Lord, and the Christian life becomes attractive
 
5) Biblical Counseling

Agape Bible Church is committed to Biblical (nouthetic) Counseling.

The debate over how we should counsel in the church is often heated and passionate. All agree that we should try to help those who are struggling, but differ over which approach is better—Integration or Biblical Counseling? The Integration model holds that we should integrate secular theories of psychotherapy with biblical principles. The Biblical Counseling model, also called nouthetic counseling, relies on biblical principles alone. The biblical counselor is not opposed to the use of common sense or all human reason. On the contrary, those elements of psychology can be quite helpful. The Integration model errs not in the fact that it uses common sense, but in that it uses the philosophies of psychology that are unbiblical. Not all human wisdom is bad—only human wisdom applied to spiritual issues that are addressed in Scripture. Anger, for example, is addressed in God’s Word as a spiritual issue with spiritual remedies. It is not a mere psychological problem.

At Agape we believe in the sufficiency of Scripture for all spiritual issues.

6) Elder Led

We believe that Scripture calls for a plurality of men who are qualified according to the lists in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 to lead the church. We do not believe in governing the church through congregational vote. However we do believe the eldership should interact with the congregation in the same way a godly husband listens to, confers with, and is sensitive to the wisdom, feelings, and counsel of his wife. We also believe the congregation should have a significant role in the selection of leaders.
 
7) God-Focused Corporate Praise

The Agape music ministry exists to showcase truth about God andstimulate, lead, and assist the corporate response by prayers, reading the Scriptures, instruction, exhortation, and music.

Worship is a response not to music, but to the glory of God. Stimulating worship, then, is done by showing the people the glory of God. This is a theological, rather than musical function. The praise time at Agape is structured with this order: showcase the glory of God, then respond (first “God is…” then “We praise…”).

Scripture teaches us to praise God with all our being, including our bodies. The actions of the body can not only express, but enhance and amplify the affections of the heart, and so we follow the examples of physical expression in Scripture (standing, kneeling, bowing, lifting hands, clapping, shouting, playing instruments, etc.). These actions should always be done as an expression of what is in one’s heart. Therefore each worshipper is urged to make use of these expressions as is fitting with what is in his/her heart in a particular moment.

Since giving is an expression of worship, our offering takes place during the praise time. Worshippers are invited to come forward at any time during the praise time to offer their gifts in one of the offering boxes.
 
8) Restoration and Forgiveness

Past character is not an indication of present character (a man is what he is, not what he was). We do not believe there is any sin that leaves a stain after repentance or that causes automatic, lifetime disqualification from fellowship, ministry, or leadership.
 
9) Complimentarianism & Male Eldership

While we do have deaconesses, we do not have female elders (1 Tim.2:12). While neither sex is greater or more important than the other, we do believe in the importance of biblical roles for men and women, including male headship in the home and church.

Scripture does teach that there are to be female leaders and teachers, and so there are important leadership positions at Agape that women can hold, as well as opportunities for women to teach women.
 
10) Family Integration

We believe there is great value in fellowship among different generations. While we do see value in ministry to and among specific demographic groups (women, men, youth, seniors, etc. – see Titus 2), we must take care to avoid too much segregation. We do not have youth events that pull them out of the worship service, and we encourage parents to bring children into the worship service.

We oppose our culture’s tendency to treat people as children for too long. High school students are capable of understanding Scripture at the adult level. So as much as possible, we treat high school students as adults, with in-depth, expository teaching, fellowship with other adults in the prayer groups, and we expect them to serve in ministry as adults.