ABOUT OUR CHURCH

Choosing a church can be a confusing and frustrating process. After all, there are so many choices. But, what makes one church different from the next? And what do denominational labels really tell us?


Well, we'd like to clear up any confusion, and help you get to know us. Below, you'll find a handful of our core convictions, which differentiate us from other Christian traditions.

 

AS A PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

When we say we're Presbyterian, it means the church is led by elders. The New Testament uses the Greek word "presbuteros" when referring to the leaders of the early church -- and this word is translated "elder" in English. This means that authority is shared among elders, rather than vested in a single person. Our elders are men, approved by the congregation, who meet the qualifications set down in God's Word (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1). Together, they serve as leaders and shepherds.


Moreover, as a Presbyterian church, we are connectional. That is to say, we're connected to other Presbyterian churches, on both a local and national level (Acts 15). For us, this means membership in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).

AS A REFORMED CHURCH

When we say we're Reformed, it means we are committed to the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation, which began in the 16th century. These doctrines, recovered by men like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Knox, represented a return to biblical teaching. Reformed theology has found popular expression in the acronym TULIP, as well as the "Five Solas." However, our doctrines are explained more thoroughly in the Westminster Standards, to which all PCA officers subscribe.

AS AN ORDINARY MEANS CHURCH

When we say we're an ordinary means church, it means we're committed to the ordinary means of grace: the preaching of the Bible, the sacraments (baptism and the Lord's Supper), and prayer. We believe God has promised to bless us spiritually through these means, according to His Word (Acts 2:42; Roman 10:17; 1 Corinthians 10:16).

AS A COVENANTAL CHURCH

When we say we're a covenantal church, it means we believe that God has always related to His people by way of a covenant -- that is, a solemn oath with divine sanctions. For example, God swore covenant oaths to Noah (Genesis 8-9), Abraham (Genesis 12, 15, 17), Moses (Exodus 20), David (2 Samuel 7), and others -- including the church (Luke 22:20; Hebrews 8:13; 9:15).

It's for this reason that we baptize infants. When we do so, we're not saying they are instantly regenerated or cleansed of sin. Rather, by baptizing them, we're declaring that they are a part of the visible church, and therefore set apart (1 Corinthians 7:14). In other words, baptism is the sign of membership in the covenant community, as circumcision was for Israel (Colossians 2:11-12; Acts 16:15, 31-34).

AS A CONFESSIONAL CHURCH

When we say we're a confessional church, it means our beliefs and practices are rooted in the Westminster Confession of Faith. Rather than reinventing the doctrinal wheel from one generation to the next, we look to the doctrinal insights of the Confession, which contains "the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures." While the Bible is primary -- being the only infallible rule of faith and practice -- the Confession, together with the Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms, forms our secondary standard.

618-443-3521

1100 N. Market St.
Sparta, IL 62286

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