Statement of Purpose
The FGEA, like most fundamental Christian associations or denominations, strives to achieve the ideal of the apostolic or new testament church as described in scripture. Accordingly, the FGEA is a full gospel church in that it believes that signs, wonders, and spiritual gifts are active today as they were in apostolic times.
The FGEA, however, practices another apostolic concept rarely seen in mainline full gospel denominations, which we call a full ministry church. The concept of a full ministry church may at first seem simple, even trivial, but the result of a full ministry in action is profound, as are so many biblical truths. We, of the FGEA, believe that full ministry, along with full gospel and an evangelical fundamentalist approach, is God’s intent for how the body of Christ is to evangelize the world to God’s greater glory.
Full Ministry, What is it?
Simply stated, full ministry is the absence of any man-made rules or regulation concerning issuance of ministerial credentials. We believe that the Holy Spirit calls whom he wills, and that an individual’s personal testimony to his call is sufficient. We examine an applicant as to his current holy life, as we believe that a holy life is outward evidence of the inward working of the Holy Spirit. We, however, ask no questions about his past repented sins, nor do we demand formal learning as a prerequisite for the ministry.
Full Ministry, Its Effect
The effect of the practice of full ministry is to build big people, not big churches. With all man made restraints to the Holy Spirit’s call removed, the result is that a member, when called, can enter the ministry without the necessity of years in seminary or apprenticeship. An FGEA pastor will judge himself on the number of his flock the Holy Spirit has called out of it for service, rather than its size. He will have seen the Holy Spirit spawn many flocks out of his, and, although his present flock may be quite small, he will delight in what his students have wrought. A successful FGEA pastor will spend much of his time in service to ex-members of his congregation now struggling to build their own independent ministries.
The full ministry leads to small groups ministering to individual needs. We do not dispute the value of large church organizations and the valuable work they do in Jesus’ name. The FGEA ministry is simply different not better. A typical FGEA minister will serve in a nursing or old age home, a prison, an apartment building, or possibly a trailer park. They hold worship services, teach Bible studies, evangelize their neighborhood, or simply bring God’s love to those the mainstream has left behind.
Full Ministry, Approved By Scripture
Obviously God calls people to the ministry. Many of the prophets have described God’s call in their writings, and even a cursory study of the Bible will convince anyone that Christ called the 12 apostles, called the 70 sent, called the first deacons, called Paul to preach, and today calls and separates for service those whom He will. Just as clearly, except for Paul, none of the early apostles were learned in the law, and only a few learned in any sense. The idea of formal training as a prerequisite for ministry is a later church development and is not Biblically supported. The idea of continued study is Biblically supported by the FGEA of all ministers. It is also Biblical that the Holy Spirit does not regard past sins as barring a person from ministry, since Peter denied Christ and Paul persecuted Christians, yet both were called.
Full Ministry, The New Testament Model
Many believe that the New Testament model for the church in Acts 2-8 was a large group described as usually meeting in the temple, and all 12 apostles along with 7 deacons were required to serve and lead them. As beautiful as this picture is, the facts are that this was not the pattern for the new testament church. The believers described in Acts 2-8 were predominantly Jews. Salvation for the Gentiles was yet to be revealed (Acts 10), and salvation by grace was not introduced to Jerusalem until Acts 15, some 20 years later. Significantly, the Jerusalem church was under the law and grace. Subsequent church history usually shows that as a church grows, law increases at the expense of grace, that all may be kept of one accord. The true new testament model for the church was the house churches founded by Paul, complete with all the problems inherent within them. As described in the epistles, Paul trained people to lead these churches and exhorted Timothy to do the same. The Holy Spirit moved throughout the world, while the church at Jerusalem languished in legalism.
No one doubts the need for God’s love to nursing homes, jails, foreign countries, or just around the block. The question typically is how to insure that the truth of the gospel goes forth amid the diverse structure that full ministry inherently creates. Wouldn’t it be better to send those same people under the auspices and guidance of a large church? The answer, we believe, is the fruit. There is a crying need for ministry in nursing homes, prisons, and neighborhood evangelism that the larger organizations are not meeting. Large organizations tend to spend much energy supporting themselves. A typical 100 member congregation often supports only 2 to 3 outreaches as most money goes to support the pastor and the building. The looser framework of the FGEA has less overhead and is more efficient at doing God’s work.
Obviously among the sheep will be some goats; among the wheat will be some tares. That is the price we pay. But hasn’t God, in His redemptive plan chosen love and liberty over the law? “Let both grow together until the harvest lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them”, said the Lord; and so we will until He comes.