Every local church must have a vision if it is to survive, grow and be useful in the kingdom of Christ. A vision can be thought of simply as something good that is worth pursuing coupled with an aspiration to engage in the pursuit of that good thing. The Bible reveals the good that a local church is to pursue of course (holiness, maturity, oneness, exercise of gifts, etc.), but the Bible itself is not a vision statement. It contains a call to pursue these things, but it is we who must aspire to pursue them. A local church must take the directives that the Bible holds out to Christians and distill them into a vision … a reason for meeting together as a body of believers in a particular time and place…a reason for existing as a local church.
It is not necessary, of course, to reduce a vision to writing. Many churches do not have written vision statements and get along quite well without them. We believe, however, that there is value in trying to articulate why we exist as a local body of believers in this time and place. Why are we here? What are we trying to accomplish? And why should you want to be here with us? This document is an attempt to answer those questions. It is an attempt to articulate the good things we are pursuing and to encourage you to join with us in ever-increasing measure in that pursuit.
Unlike the Bible, on which our vision is based, this document, without doubt, has many imperfections. But we hope you will read it, meditate on it and help us to improve upon it. Most of all, we hope you will join with us in asking God to help us to aspire to the right things and then to move continually in the direction of realizing those aspirations. Ask God what he might be willing to do through us and then trust him for great things. We are thankful that God has blessed this body and thank you for sharing in this pursuit
At Ardsley Bible Chapel we desire to extend our outreach ministry beyond the local community and into nations around the world through
- Providing financial support for missionaries around the world, especially those we have commended and those with whom we have a direct connection through personal knowledge of their lives and ministries (2 Cor. 9:6-10)
- Commending members of our local body to mission work as God calls them to such work (Acts 13:1-3)
- Praying for missionaries around the world based on as specific knowledge of their opportunities, challenges, and trials as possible (1 Thess. 5:25; Jas. 5:16)
- Providing financial support for evangelical organizations that facilitate world missions, especially (but not limited to) those that explicitly seek to operate on the basis of New Testament principles as we understand them.
- Praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world and providing material support for them as we learn of their needs.
In order to achieve these objectives, we will:
- Engage in regular, systematic giving to missionaries we have commended and those with whom our local body has a direct connection, as well as a range of missionaries whose lives and work are known to be in keeping with biblical standards for ministry
- Engage in periodic giving, based on specifically known need, to missionaries with such reputations, but with whom we have less direct connections.
- Engage in periodic giving to known needs of brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.
- Engage in support for missions organizations
- Regularly inform our local body about world missions to enable our body to pray more effectively and to encourage members to be involved in world missions both in direct and indirect ways; methods to be used will include
In sum, we at Ardsley Bible Chapel are committed to playing a real and significant role in the work of Christ around the world, not as an afterthought to the rest of our ministry, but as a vital part of it.
At Ardsley Bible Chapel we aspire to a local outreach ministry that:
- Seeks to fulfill our part of the Great Commission in our time and place (Matt. 28:19, 20)
- Is energized by a genuine love for those without Christ and seeks to win them by showing them grace, compassion and sensitivity without compromising truth, so that they might be saved from everlasting judgment and enter the everlasting joy of Christ’s kingdom (Rom. 5:6-8; 2 Cor. 5:19-21)
- Reaches out to all, regardless of race, social status, or any other merely human distinction that is of no significance to God (1 Tim. 2:3, 4)
- Engages every member of our local body, whether specifically gifted in the area of evangelism or not, equipping each one for growing effectiveness in spreading the gospel (Eph. 4:11-16)
- Recognizes that salvation is God’s work and that we are merely his instruments
- Does not see winning people for Christ as an end but rather as a beginning; our ultimate objective is to shepherd each new believer along toward realization of the fullness of Christ in experience (1 Peter 5:2-4)
In reaching toward these ideals, we will utilize and encourage the following specific means of outreach:
- Personal evangelism by each member of our local body in our various spheres of relationship
- A range of meeting types for our youth and for adults to which the members of our body feel free to invite their unsaved friends and acquaintances with confidence that they will be confronted with their need of salvation through Jesus Christ
- Other ad hoc ministry opportunities including, but not limited to, service projects directed toward those who are needy in our community, thus demonstrating to them the love of Christ in the hope of winning them for Christ
In sum, we at Ardsley Bible Chapel are committed to fulfilling our part of Christ’s command to his church to make disciples of the nations, thus extending the reach of his kingdom and bringing greater glory to his name.
At Ardsley Bible Chapel we have a heart for our youth, and our ministry to them is aimed at developing a vibrant, vital group of young people who are fully engaged in the most positive sense with their families, with one another, and with our local body of believers. They will encourage one another in true faith in Jesus Christ and true Christian practice in every area of life, will take an active role of service in the church, and will be involved in making disciples of Christ in their various spheres of influence.
In order to promote growth in this direction we will offer to our youth:
Sunday School with:
- Age-appropriate instruction
- Gifted teachers who have a passion for seeing their students grow spiritually
- Fully biblically based teaching
- Practical instruction that meets students where they are
Youth Group meetings that include:
- Opportunities for building relationships with more spiritually mature members of the assembly
- Biblically based devotions
- Age-appropriate activities
- Opportunities for outreach
Youth camp and retreat opportunities that:
- Offer the opportunity to come away from the world and be immersed in Bible study for spiritual development, as well as age-appropriate sports and other activities for physical and emotional development
- Facilitate fellowship and relationship building with the young people in other churches
- Provide opportunities for outreach
- Include scholarships for children needing financial support so that no child who desires to participate is excluded due to lack of funds
We also seek to provide opportunities for our young adults for:
- Discussion of issues that are particularly relevant to this age group from a biblical perspective
- Discipleship and outreach
- Full, vital engagement with our local body
In sum, our vision is that ministry to our youth will meet their spiritual needs where they are and draw them into the life of the church. We aim to encourage our youth to see the church as their own, to be involved with it and eventually to be responsible for leadership in it as it carries on the work of Christ in the world as he tarries.
At the Ardsley Bible Chapel we desire to proclaim the truths of God’s word, most centrally the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. We also aim to instruct the members of our local body in all their privileges and duties as his disciples. Therefore we aspire to a preaching and teaching ministry that is:
Christ-centered, recognizing that:
- God is the Source, Sustainer and Goal of all that ever has existed, does exist, and ever will exist, and that he is the only true object of worship (Gen. 1:1; Ps. 45:11; 95:6; 100:1-5)
- God has related to our world in the person of Jesus Christ, and therefore calls us to himself only through Jesus (Jn. 1:1, 14; 2 Cor. 5:19,20; 1 Tim. 2:5; 3:16)
- An approach to life and ministry that has the crucified and risen Christ at its center. This is the only approach that will lead to the fulfillment of life’s deepest purposes and provide real solutions to life’s deepest problems (1 Cor. 2:2; 15:3, 4; Phil. 2:10, 11)
Biblically based, recognizing that:
- God has given the Bible to us as the only fully reliable source of truth for belief and practice (Ps. 119:11, 105; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17)
- It is through the Bible, as illuminated by God’s Spirit, that we come to know Jesus Christ and all he has done for us and how we can live according to his will (Jn. 5:39; Eph. 2:10)
- The Bible is the only fully accurate standard for evaluating our experience (Jn. 17:17; Heb. 4:12)
- Designed to meet real world needs, focusing on:
- Making true disciples of Jesus Christ (Mt. 28:19, 20)
- Equipping believers to go into the world themselves to make disciples of Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 2:2)
- Helping individual members of our local body of believers, as well as our body as a whole, to grow toward spiritual maturity (1 Cor. 13:11; 14:20 Eph. 4:13-15)
- Strengthening marriages and families, based on a recognition that the family is the primary unit that God has established for biblical instruction. The church has the role of supporting such instruction. To the extent possible, we also seek to take the role of the family for those who are, for any reason, not within a family structure (Deut. 6:6, 7; Eph. 5:22-6:3)
- Helping the members of our local body to understand and live out the essence of true religion, namely to show God’s love, mercy and grace to those in need and to live lives characterized by purity in this present evil age, thus demonstrating our love for and faith in God himself (Mic. 6:8; Jas. 1:26, 27)
In reaching toward these aspirations our preaching and teaching ministry will include:
- A clear call to faith in the crucified and risen Christ, along with all of the implications that such faith has for living under the lordship of Christ
- A courageous, forthright exposition and defense of truth coupled with a compassion for fallen humanity and a humility that recognizes our own propensity to sin (2 Tim. 4:2)
- Purposeful bridging between biblical doctrine and right Christian practice, with the intent of reaching the whole person, both head and heart, and seeking to see the power of Christ realized in radically transformed lives (Ps. 119:11; Rom. 6:4; 12:1, 2; Tit. 2:11, 12)
- Preaching and teaching based on sound principles of interpretation and evangelical theology whose truth has been tested and proved. This requires careful preparation on the part of each teacher directly in the Scriptures. Conclusions will be informed primarily by the Spirit of God, but also brought under the scrutiny of other faithful and godly interpreters of both the past and present (2 Tim. 4:2)
- Interactive instruction appropriate for each age level that encourages self-study of the Bible for an understanding of its principles and results in a growing love for God and his Word (Ps. 119:9, 127-8; 1 Pet. 2:2)
- Multiple instructional approaches including well-prepared expository sermons, inductive Bible studies, and age-appropriate Sunday School lessons and devotions
- Utilization of gifted teachers, recognizing that God has designed certain members of his body particularly to play this role and has designed others for other functions (Eph. 4:11-14; Jas. 3:1)
- The specific goal of expounding the whole counsel of God to his people, which necessarily involves teaching through books of the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments supplemented by topical teaching (Acts 20:27; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17)
- A music ministry that takes advantage of music not only as an avenue for worship, but also as a teaching tool, with conscious attention to ensuring that lyrics are in keeping with sound doctrine (Eph. 5:19, 20; Col. 3:16)
In sum, our vision is that our body be one where the preaching and teaching fulfill the goal of causing each member to grow up into all the fullness of Christ, so that we have an effective outreach in our community and the world and ultimately bring greater glory to the Lord who loved us and gave himself for us.
At Ardsley Bible Chapel we aspire to a body life characterized by:
- Showing Christ’s love to one another, thus demonstrating to the world that we are his disciples (Jn. 13:35)
- Maintaining the unity that God has given us through his Spirit (Eph. 4:3)
- Bearing one another’s burdens, and thus fulfilling the law of Christ, while at the same time recognizing our personal responsibility to bear the burdens God has given to each of us individually (Gal. 6:2, 5)
- In humility considering one another as more important than ourselves (Phil. 2:3)
- Recognizing one another’s gifts, and seeking to encourage one another in the use of those gifts (1 Cor. 12:12)
- Each member of the body doing the work that Christ has given to him or her to do, thus contributing to the buildup of the body as a whole in love (Eph. 4:16)
- Praying for one another (James 5:16)
- Maintaining the purity of the body for the sake of Christ (1 Cor. 5:6)
- Speaking the truth in love, and thus maturing together under the headship of Christ (Eph. 4:15)
In reaching toward these goals we desire to:
- Maintain an environment in which issues that are important to any member of the body can be discussed honestly and openly
- Encourage mutual accountability among the members of the body, as well as sensitivity to needs
- Offer both formal and informal gatherings that make positive contributions to our body life, including not only our regular weekly meetings but also a range of ad hoc gatherings that provide opportunities for fellowship and other positive interaction
- Encourage and model the practice of the virtue of hospitality
- Encourage significant interaction within the body that reaches to all members of the body
In sum, our vision for our body life is one in which our interactions are spiritually productive, meet real needs and have a maturing effect, causing us to grow up together in Christ.
At Ardsley Bible Chapel we aspire to give ourselves to prayer, acknowledging that
- Except for prayer, we are helpless against the evil principalities and powers in the heavenly places against which we struggle (Eph. 6:12, 18)
Nothing we do to extend the kingdom of Christ will be of any avail unless it is done in accordance with God’s Word and in complete dependence upon him.
- We need to be faithful in praying for one another (1 Sam. 12:23)
- We can expect to see the saints in our gathering built up, as we look to the Lord in prayer to strengthen and edify his body (Col. 1:9)
- God has called us to pray for all people, including those in authority over us (1 Tim. 1:1-4)
- Even when we do not know what to pray, God has given us his Spirit to help us in our weakness (Rom. 8:26)
- Our God is faithful in hearing and answering prayer (Psa. 65:2; Jer. 29:11,12; 33:3; Jas. 5:16b)
- We must thus place a high priority on prayer (Lk. 18:1; 1 Thess. 5:17)
- As we approach our God and Father in prayer, we are first made to recognize our utter worthlessness in ourselves. Although our sins are forgiven and we have been made righteous and holy by the work of our Lord Jesus on Calvary, yet our best efforts to serve him are marred by the foolishness and sin that we cannot deny (2 Chr. 7:14; Isa. 6:5; 1 Jn. 1:8)
- We can expect to see souls saved as a result of preaching the gospel, as we look to the Lord in prayer as the only One who can save (John 17:20-21)
As we pray and the Lord graciously hears and answers our prayers, we approach him with truly thankful hearts, first for him himself and then for all his mercies and blessings that fill our hearts with joy (Psa. 100:4; 2 Cor. 9:15 Eph. 5:20)
Since prayer is so vital to our well-being, both as a local church and as families and individuals, we commit to
- Regular, incessant, and fervent personal prayer for the spiritual, moral, and emotional health of our church and each member of it
- Holding a family altar in our homes, where the Scriptures are read and prayer is offered
- Praying together in smaller groups – of men, of women, of elders – as frequently as possible and especially in times of trial or sorrow
- Holding, and attending faithfully, as far as possible, the midweek assembly prayer meeting
In sum, we aspire to be a truly praying church, looking to God for blessing in all of our activities and thanking him for every mercy he bestows.
The body of believers at Ardsley Bible Chapel seeks to worship God
- For his intrinsic worth—a worth with which nothing in all creation compares (1 Kgs. 8:23; 1 Chr. 17:20)
- For his great attributes, which are in keeping with his deity (Ps. 25:8; 103:1-4; Isa. 5:16; 1 Cor. 1:9; Eph. 2:4)
- For his majesty and power expressed in his creation and sustenance of our world and all it contains (Rev. 4:11)
- For what he has done for us, preeminently in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is what calls forth our willing worship. This is what fills our renewed hearts with a desire to worship him. Apart from it, our worship would flow just from obligation, and not from love (1 Cor. 15:3, 4; Rev. 5:12-14).
We believe in the priesthood of all believers (1 Pet. 2:5, 9) and in the pattern of Christian worship set out for the church in the New Testament – worship that has its foundation in the richness of the Old Testament. Therefore we seek to provide an opportunity for corporate worship each Lord’s Day that
- Is based on all that God is and all he has done, but keeps the cross of Jesus Christ-and therefore a celebration of the Lord’s Supper at the center, following our Lord’s command and the practice and teaching of the early church (Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 11:23-26)
- Engages every true believer in Jesus Christ in the act of worship. Men and women alike are called to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23, 24), but when we are gathered together as a church for collective worship, the role of leadership is taken by the men (1 Cor. 14:34; 1 Tim. 2). This worship draws its substance from the intersection of the Scriptures with our experience, thus engaging the whole person, mind and heart, intellect and emotions (Ps. 96:9; Mk. 12:33)
- Focuses on response to God for who he is and what he has done rather than on what we hope to receive (although in truly giving our worship to God we are indeed blessed) (Ps. 115:1; Rev. 4:8, 11; 5:9, 12, 13)
- Is facilitated, supported, and enhanced by songs and hymns, both old and new, that are in keeping with the true evangelical faith and that draw our hearts and minds upward to God (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16)
- Provides an opportunity to give our material gifts to God in acts of willing sacrifice in response to what he has done for us (Acts 20:35; 2 Cor. 8:9; 9:7)
- Is ultimately led by the Spirit of God rather than by human design, recognizing that we should be open to the work of the Spirit in our hearts all week long, not just on Sunday mornings, and therefore not precluding either spontaneous or prepared contributions to worship (John 4:24; 1 Cor. 12)
In sum, in our worship we aspire to proclaim the great worth of God, pleasing him by willingly following his commands and eagerly giving him his due. In so doing we seek to be among those who worship God in spirit and in truth, through Jesus Christ, in keeping with his call to us.