Church Planting and Doctrinal Statements

Mark Dever raised a ruckus last year over his statement that "you are in sin if you lead your congregation to have a statement of faith that requires a particular millennial view.” I would not put it in those terms although I agree on the non-necessity of having a particular millennial view in a church doctrinal statement. I’m not suggesting watering down doctrine. I have a millennial view.  But should prospective church members be required to agree with my view in order to join the church or is this an area where disagreement is acceptable? A church and its pastor(s) may believe and teach many more things than those included in a church’s doctrinal statement. Church planters should carefully think through what they want to enshrine in the church’s statement of faith. They might consider a two-tiered statement – what the church believes and teaches and what is required for church membership. Here’s what we have adopted at Grace Church.


2 Responses to “Church Planting and Doctrinal Statements”

  1. We took a modified two-tier approach. The closing statement of the doctrinal statement requires members to "be supportive of the church's positions". We did this for a couple of  reasons. First, we wanted to clearly articulate for folks interested in the church where it stood on significant doctrinal issues. This way they would know what kind of teaching/preaching  to expect. However, we also understand that on even some significant doctrinal issues there is room for variance within the  body – i.e. eschotology, Calvinsim/arminianism. We felt our statement permitted disagreement in some of these areas as long as the members were committed to unity in the body. This way they know up front what issues they may encounter and understand that they  can hold a different position as long as they are not contentiously pushing their view in the body.

  2. Chip: Good idea. Also we risk asking people to commit to a statement that they cannot yet understand especially if they are new believers. For example, do they really have to hold to grammatical-historical-theological interpretation or dispensational, pre-trib, pre-mil., young earth creationism, etc. ? A church might hold to and teach all of that yet not require affirmation for membership.

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