The #TitusOneFive Statement
Reaffirming the biblical connection between conversion, baptism, church membership and the Lord’s Supper.
Local churches should be like cities set on hills (Matt. 5:14): gospel communities made up of those saved by the grace of God, recreated by him, and displaying to the watching world the breaking in of God’s kingdom of love, righteousness and joy. We want to equip churches to have a biblical vision of this reality, so that the light of Christ might not only be proclaimed, but seen ever more brightly in our generation.
We believe that the biblical elements of a ‘gospel order’ (conversion, baptism, church membership and the Lord’s Supper), ministered lovingly and correctly, together reveal these spiritual realities, and hence become the framework in which a gospel community can thrive. Doctrinally, we take an evangelical stance as set out in the historic Reformed Baptist confessions, and in addition we hold to the following beliefs and practices relating to gospel order:
1. We believe that the universal church is the body of which Christ is the head, to which all who are saved belong, and that it is made visible in local churches – organised gatherings of Christians – who are:
i. united by a statement of faith which expresses the doctrines believed by the church, which are often highlighted, and agreed by every believer who comes into church membership;
ii. fed and shaped by the ministry of the word as the focus of their life together in Christ as a gathered church, aided by the gospel signs of baptism and communion.
2. We believe that a Christian is someone who has been genuinely converted by God. Conversion is radical, and occurs when God gives life to spiritually dead people. It is evidenced in the gifts of personal faith in Jesus Christ and repentance from sin.
3. We believe that baptism is:
i. a local church’s act of affirming and portraying a converted person’s union with Christ by immersing him or her in water;
ii. a converted person’s act of publicly committing him or herself to Christ and his people, thereby uniting them to the church and marking them off from the world;
iii. the act which commences a converted person’s membership of a local church.
4. We believe that anyone wishing to join a local church should be given opportunity to understand the responsibilities and joys of church membership, and thus agree to the church’s statement of faith and the values that govern their life together (perhaps evidenced by the signing of a church covenant).
Admission to membership can then occur, after:
i. the church has affirmed the candidate’s profession of faith, evidenced by an explanation of their conversion and the gospel;
ii. the candidate has been baptised as a believer.
5. We believe that the Lord’s Supper is:
i. a local church’s act of communing with Christ and each other, and of commemorating Christ’s death by partaking of bread and wine;
ii. a converted, baptised person’s act of receiving Christ’s benefits and renewing his or her commitment to Christ and his people;
iii. Christ’s ongoing means of binding the members of a local church together as one body and marking it off from the world;
iv. for baptised members of local churches, whether members of the church where the Supper is being celebrated, or visitors in good standing at another gospel church.
6. We believe that each local church should be characterised by a shared life of discipleship. As all the members are equipped, they should be encouraged to use their gifts to serve others in various works of ministry and prayer. Together, each local church is to grow in holiness as Christ’s bride and in witness as his ambassadors to the watching world. Local church life is to be a growing display of heaven on earth.
7. We believe that church discipline is a provision of Christ for the protection of the honour of his name in a local church. This removal from church membership, and withholding of the Lord’s Supper, may become necessary against any church member whose life or doctrine renders their profession of faith in Christ incredible. It is used after much pastoral care, and in order that the offender might be brought back to repentance and faith, and afterwards gladly readmitted to church membership.
8. We believe that each local church has final authority to admit and dismiss members, appoint and remove leaders, and establish the doctrinal and moral standards
of the church. These processes should be implemented at regular church members’ meetings.
9. We believe that each local church should be led, taught, and prayed over by a plurality of godly and suitably gifted elders, as defined in the Pastoral Epistles, and served by similarly godly deacons, who, for the sake of unity, and for the upholding of the ministry of the word, are to care for particular needs arising in the life
of the church.
10. We believe that meaningful fellowship between local churches exists where there is evident faithfulness to the gospel, and that for the sake of displaying unity churches should look to foster good relationships with all other gospel-preaching churches within their locality.
We present these principles in a spirit of submission to the word of God, in acknowledgement of our need of ongoing reform by the Spirit, and in hope of the promotion of warm gospel unity among many.
Soli Deo Gloria.