What We Believe
The mission of the First Church of Christ is to carry the gospel to the lost, baptizing them into Christ and providing opportunities for all to embrace the faith, hope, and love expressed in God’s Word.
The First Church of Christ, East Palestine, Ohio, stands on the authority of God’s Word and operates on the basis of five core values.
1. WITNESSING FOR CHRIST
Our concerns for evangelism is demonstrated through a dynamic missions program that currently supports more than 15 diverse ministries in places such as India, Romania, Haiti, and the United States. We assist independent missions as well as medical missions, children’s homes and Bible colleges. At home we rejoice in welcoming newcomers to our fellowship and actively work to share our faith through a variety of means with those nearby as well as throughout the world. Our top priority is to take the gospel message to lost souls and bring them into a life-changing relationship with Jesus. Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded for you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of age.”
2. GROWING AS BELIEVERS
Because we realize that everyone needs help growing in Christ, our church programs are designed to nurture believers. We have a Sunday morning Bible School program that includes classes for all ages from infants to adults. An active Wednesday evening youth program offers graded activities for young people through high school age as well as adult Bible study. At other times during the week, a number of special groups meet in order to grow through fellowship and service. 2 Timothy 2:15 states, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
3. SERVING WITH LOVE
We regard every member of the First Church of Christ as a minister, charged with the responsibility of working with fellow Christians to achieve the mission of the church. With this in mind, our congregation encourages a host of member-led ministries that include everything from preparing communion to sponsoring a youth group. As few needs arise, ministries are continually developed and members are encouraged to participate. Matthew 20:25-28 reads, “Jesus called them together and said,’You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’.” Matthew 23:11-12 states, “The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exhalted.” John 15:17 says, “This is my command: Love each other.” Then Hebrews 13:1 states, “Keep on loving each other as brothers.”
4. ENCOURAGING THE FAITHFUL THROUGH COMMUNITY
In addition to Sunday worship affording a time for fellowship, small groups address special needs and provide excellent opportunities for encouraging the faithful. The Women’s Ministry, Dorcas, Men’s prayer breakfasts, and the Ladies’ Quilting ministry are a few of our small groups. Congregational dinners at times such as Thanksgiving and Family Sunday offer further opportunities for fellowship. Both small and large group gatherings are important occasions for building each other up in Christ. A professional ministerial staff and an active group of congregationally selected leaders known as elders also offer special care for our members. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 reads, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He dies for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
5. EXALTING THE LORD THROUGH WORSHIP
When we gather on Sundays, we worship through music, prayer, the Lord’s Supper, giving and Bible study, always working to make our time together both relevent and encouraging. Sermons are carefully drawn from Scripture as well as being strong on life application. While our style of worship does not neglect the richness of the past, we also enjoy using the language and music of the present to express ourselves. Finally, because worship needs to be a part of everyday life, our gathering is designed to equip us for that whole week as well as a lifetime of exalting Christ—in our homes, at school and on our jobs. Hebrews 10:25 states, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourageone another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” And Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess His name.”
God, the Father
The Bible teaches that God is Creator of our world, He sustains us, and He is Lord of our lives. Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-4; Colossians 1:15-17; Matthew 22:37; Romans 10:9
Jesus became “God in the flesh”. He existed in the beginning with God, and was God. He then was born a man through the miracle of the virgin birth by the power of the Holy Spirit. Despite temptation, He lived a sinless life. Mt. 1:18-25, Lk. 1:26-45, Jn. 1:1-2; 14, Heb. 4:14-15 Jesus was crucified and died a physical death as an atonement for the sins of mankind. He experienced a physical resurrection from the grave. Lk. 23:23-24, 53; 1 Cor 15:3-8; 1 Jn. 2:2 He ascended into Heaven. Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9, 10
Jesus came in the flesh as our Savior; He will return in the future in bodily form as the victorious Lord of the universe. At that time, He will gather together His followers and will pass judgment upon those who have rejected Him. Mk. 13:32-37; Acts 1:9-11; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 9:27-28
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit lives within those who believe in Jesus Christ. He is our Comforter, our Advocate, and He helps us to become more like Jesus in thought, word, deed and character. Jn. 13:15-17; 16:5-15; Acts 2:38; 1 Cor. 3:16; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:16-26
The Bible is the inspired Word of God. It is the authoritative rule of faith and practice for Christians and the Church. 2 Timothy 3:16 Jesus instituted a new covenant with God that succeeded and transcended His former covenant with the people of Israel; hence we accept the Old Testament as preparatory to the New and we rejoice that we are related to God through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and not through the Law. Romans 6:14; Hebrews 9:15
All have sinned and are in need of salvation. Rom. 3:23; 6:23 Salvation comes through God’s grace and faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1-2). A saving faith is one that will lead a person to:· confess Christ (Rom. 10:10), repent of sin (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 2 Cor. 7:10), and be baptized (immersed in water) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
We teach that “every member is a minister,” since the New Testament teaches the ministry of all believers, recognizing that God gives various and different gifts to the members of the body so that every member can make an effective contribution to the ministry of the church. I Peter 2:9; Ephesians 4:11-12, 16; Rom. 12:3-8
We seek to promote worship that is God- and- Christ-centered; celebratory and participatory. Bible centered preaching and teaching, prayer, the breaking of bread, and fellowship characterizes our service. Acts 2:42
We celebrate the Lord’s Supper each Sunday, as we find the New Testament Christians did. In partaking of the bread and the cup, we remember our Lord’s sacrifice for us and we strengthen our relationship with Him. We practice an “open communion,” that is, the communion service is open to all believers, not just church members. Participation is between the individual Christian and his Lord. Acts 20:7; Acts 2:42; Luke 22:19-20; I Corinthians 11:23-28
The church is the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-33) and the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12). The local church is governed by Godly men, known as elders (Titus 1:5). The purpose of the church on earth is to fulfill the last command of Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20).
We are a missions-minded church. We send and support evangelistic and benevolent ministries in our community, in the U.S., and throughout the world. We encourage believers to accept the call to missions involvement and support them through generous offerings. Matthew 28:18-20; Matthew 25: 35-40; Acts 16:9-10
We are a praying church. We pray daily to God fervent prayers of praise, confession, thanksgiving and petition. 2 Chronicles 7:14; I Thessalonians 5:17; Philippians 4:6; James 5:13-16
We are dependent solely on the generosity and maturity of our own membership to supply our needs as well as those of our missions and benevolent ministries. God expects wise management of our money and resources in both our personal and congregational lives. We encourage the tithe (10%) as the minimum the Bible teaches us to return to the Lord. We understand the governing principles of stewardship to be that everything we have belongs to God. We do not hesitate to teach the principles of biblical stewardship, agreeing with Jesus that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21; I Corinthians 16:1-2; Malachi 3:10; Leviticus 27:30