Our congregation is autonomous, meaning we are not directed by a board, a higher bishop or archbishop. The New Testament teaches that every congregation is to have its own shepherds (Acts 14:23, Acts 15:4, Titus 1:5) and functions as separate congregations as part of the larger church (group of people that belongs to Jesus Christ). What this means is that each congregation has its own personality and lean more towards certain ways of ministry than others. While we value the entirety of Scripture and the whole of what God calls us to be, our values reflect our distinct personality as a congregation and some of our “main things” we focus on.
Romans 12:1 calls us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, which is our spiritual act of worship. This means worship is much more than simply coming to services at the church building Sunday or Wednesday. This means our entire life is an act of worship, that how we conduct our lives, how we interact with people, and what we choose to do or not do is an act of worship. There is the intentional coming together with the rest of our congregation to worship together by singing praises & songs to God, praying together, taking Communion (The Lord’s Supper) together and studying Scripture together, and this is just as important as the rest of our week, but not more important. Hebrews 10:24-25 says that we should meet together to encourage each other to love and good deeds. It’s our hope that our Sunday morning assembly encourages us, grounds us in Scripture, and re-energizes us to live Godly lives through the week, and that living Godly lives through the week allows us to come together again to encourage each other, re-energize each other, help each other with our struggles and celebrate our triumphs together. Both works together, and both are worship.
Many passages in the New Testament talk about the importance of prayer. First of all, we understand prayer to in essence to be speaking directly to God, which He promises to hear (Psalm 34:17; Matthew 6:6). This does many things, first of which is strengthens our relationship with God. Imagine a relationship you have with someone you love, and then imagine never talking to them save a few times a day in a short sentence. God communicates with us through His Word, and we talk to Him in prayer. The New Testament also promises that through prayer the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses (Romans 8:26), and that God will answer our prayers according to His will (Luke 11:9; John 15:7). Finally, prayer is an act of submission, of acknowledging that we serving a God who is in control of the world and that we submit to His power in the world & in our lives (Philippians 4:6), and that God can help give us peace & guidance through prayer. Prayer, we believe, is an integral part of the Christian walk.
Preaching & Teaching Scripture
2nd Timothy 3:16 tells us all Scripture, the Bible, is inspired by God and good for teaching, correction, & training in righteousness. We believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, that it is perfect & complete in its teaching of what God wants us to know for our lives. We strongly believe in studying & discussion the lessons found in Scripture together, and devote most of our times that we assemble to this end. Romans 10:17 says that faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ. Scripture tells us about God, what He’s done, our place in this world, how & why we must be saved, and about God revealed on earth, Jesus Christ, who we are to strive to be like. By teaching & studying Scripture we can learn about the God we serve, learn how to be as God intended us to be, how to be more like Jesus, and how to live a Godly life in this world. We may have differences of opinion sometimes about Scripture, but we strive that differences don’t interfere with our unity as Christians (John 17).
Though knowledge of Scripture is important it is not enough to simply know about what God expects of us, but we must act! John 14:15 says that if we love Jesus we will and 1st John 5:3 keep His commands, and Jesus obeyed God when He died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. Part of studying & coming together is helping each other live more like Christ, being light & salt in the world for Christ (Matthew 5). We strive to both learn about & walk as Christ, and help each other in the process.
Much is said in the New Testament about fellowshipping together. 1st Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to encourage and build one another up, Galatians 6:2 tells us to bear one another’s burdens, Proverbs 27:17 says iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. We believe that church doesn’t end at the church building door, but we strive to be in each other’s homes for dinner, meeting through the week for Bible studies, to pray together, to confess and to hear each others’ struggles and encourage one another in good things. A church is not just a social club, but we are connected in Christ in all of life, and we strive to be brothers and sisters to each other the best we can, that the world may see our love for one another (John 13:35).
Jesus’ ministry was not directed at only those in the faith, but helping people that he met. We believe in being active members of our communities both as a congregation and as individuals. Galatians 6:18 tells us to do good to everyone, and it is out hope that by helping those who need help when we’re able to that they may see the love of Jesus and want to know Jesus themselves. We strive to be in our communities representing not Northern Hills Church of Christ, but Jesus Christ, and pray God works through us for His purposes.