The Bible: Our primary standard is the Bible. We believe the Bible is the foundational and ultimate authority for the Christian faith and life. Without the Bible the church and all men are lost; with the Bible the Holy Spirit powerfully leads men to find God through Jesus Christ.
The Bible has one overarching and central message: God's massive redemption and restoration plan through Jesus Christ. Beginning in Genesis 3:15 with a promise and culminating in Revelation 21 & 22 with a tear-free, sorrow-free city (the New Jerusalem), God's redemption plan centers on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, and especially on His Cross. The entire Bible is first and foremost about Jesus Christ: The Old Testament predicts Him (Luke 24:25-27-44-46); the Gospels reveal Him; the book of Acts preaches Him; the Epistles explain Him; and Revelation expects Him.
The basic message of redemption that God provides the world in Jesus Christ is this:
- Every single human being is guilty of sinning against God (Romans 3:10-12,23).
- Even the best deeds of the most upstanding people are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
- The essence of sin is a broken relationship with God, which means that without Jesus Christ we remain God's enemy (Rom. 5:10).
- God punishes sin with death and condemnation (Romans 6:23; John 3:18).
- BUT (here's the good news!), "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
- So, everyone who commits their life to Jesus Christ by putting their faith in Him is made right with God and will enjoy all the riches of eternal life with God.
"What must I do to commit my life to Jesus Christ by putting faith in Him?"
- You must humbly admit to God that you are a sinner who cannot save himself/herself. Or, put another way, you must stop trying to save yourself by being nice, kind, moral, successful, and/or self-sufficient. Remember, it matters not what men say about you; what matters is what God says about you. And God says that the very best you do is not good enough to pay for your sin.
- You must believe in the only perfect Person, Jesus Christ. He lived the sinless life you should have lived (Hebrews 4:15) and died the God-forsaken death you should die (Matt. 27:46). If you believe that Jesus Christ is the only way for you to restore your broken relationship with God (John 14:6), and if you entrust Jesus with your very life, then you are a Christian and will enjoy everlasting life with God.
- If you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you should visit Heritage ARP Church and talk to us about being baptized (Acts 2:38). If you do not believe in Jesus Christ you also should visit us so that we can answer any doubts or questions you might have about salvation.
If you have questions about membership at Heritage ARP Church, please see Membership & Baptism.The Westminster Confession of Faith:
In order to protect the gospel and ensure that this church does not fail to teach, preach, and live the Christian faith in all its joy and fullness, our church leaders hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith as a secondary standard. Two things are especially important to note here. First, only the church leaders (elders and deacons) have to agree with the WCF as an accurate summary of crucial teachings in the Bible. You do not have to agree with the WCF in order to become a member of Heritage ARP Church (please see our "Membership & Baptism" section for membership requirements). Second, please note the emphasis on the word secondary. The Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) is subordinate and inferior in every way to the Bible. The WCF is a man-made document; the Bible is God's Word. The WCF is fallible and could always be improved and/or updated; the Bible is infallible and needs no improvement or updating-it is perfect and timeless.
The Westminster Confession of Faith was written in the 1640's for the purpose of clarifying concisely what the Bible teaches about the Bible, God, mankind, Jesus Christ and redemption, the church, and other important biblical subjects. The WCF is very useful for learning the overall themes of the Bible, bringing the many teachings and events together so we can understand the essence and meaning for our lives today.
The Westminster Confession of Faith:
The Westminster Shorter Catechism:
The Westminster Larger Catechism:
Heritage ARP Church
Vision & Priority Statement
The Vision of Heritage Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church:
We desire to be a church truly Reformed and Presbyterian but with a uniquely Missourian identity.
The Mission of Heritage Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church:
We believe that God has called Heritage ARP Church to serve Southwest Missouri as a model of a conservative reformed Presbyterian church. In doing this, we also believe our God has called us to sculpt a reformed identity which embodies the beauty and God-honoring facets of our culture. We see and highly prize the respect so many still have for the Church and their strong allegiance to Scripture. Not only do we hope to honor these admirable traits, we desire to further adorn them by making good use of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms (what we refer to as our Standards). We believe that our gift to our community, already so enriched by the kindnesses of our Lord, is to faithfully present the strong, biblical theology clearly enunciated in our Standards. Yet, in doing so, we wish to assure our community that we believe our standards to be subordinate to the Scripture. We hold that our standards are by no means on par with scripture but are nevertheless a faithful exposition of the glorious truths and doctrines found in scripture. We regard our standards as God's gracious gift that we are called to steward and share with our area. But our mission is not just to disciple but also to evangelize. While being faithful to teaching and preaching biblical doctrine, we seek to balance such with the free offer of the gospel. We believe our God has called us to offer the gospel call for all to believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ. This we believe is our call and our gift to Southwest Missouri.
Our Church Leadership:
The session is a group of elders who oversee the ministries of the church and shepherd the members of the church through servant leadership. The heart-beat of the elder's position is 'servanthood.' Just as Jesus Christ came not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45), so too the elders are to be examples of servant leadership. The qualifications for this office are described in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9, and 1 Peter 5:2-3. More specifically, the role of the session is to facilitate times of prayer over any members who are sick, counsel those who have questions or concerns about the faith, conduct membership interviews, pray for the spiritual well-being of members and the conversion of non-Christians, and serve on various committees.
Deacons are ministers of mercy who reach out to those in crisis or difficult circumstances. Their primary task is to have mercy upon those who are suffering and afflicted in much the same way that God's mercy moves Him to relieve suffering and sorrow. Not only do deacons relieve suffering and compassionately care for the afflicted, they also equip people to use their time, abilities, and resources wisely, and they facilitate the connection between those who have plenty of time and/or resources and those in need of someone's time and/or resources.
You may be wondering what style of worship we offer; is it contemporary, traditional, blended, avant garde, stuffy? Many professing Christians prefer one style or another. We believe that the question is not what style do we prefer, but what does God prefer? Worship is the "work of the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ to the glory of God the Father." (Worship According to Scripture, H. O. Old) We worship God because He created us to worship Him. Our worship gives glory to Him. In worship He is glorified when we hear again of His grace toward us in the gospel and when we express our gratitude to Him in praise and thanksgiving.
A great danger in worship, however, is that it easily becomes self-centered and not God-centered. Of course, while there are many dimensions of worship that must be adapted to the culture of the worshipers, eg. we will use English in our services, these dimensions are fewer than we imagine. In the Scriptures, God gives many guidelines regarding true worship and warnings regarding novelty. Our worship is guided by two key principles.
First, worship must be according to Scripture. When Jesus remarked once that God was seeking worshipers who would worship Him in Spirit and Truth, he draws a clear distinction against both a style of worship that is exuberant and energetic, but not bounded by Scripture, and formalistic style of worship which is carefully scripted by chapter and verse but lacks the gracious presence of the Holy Spirit. Neither of these is worship according to Scripture. We are not rigorist with respect to a rigid liturgy. As our forefathers before us, we believe that God has told us how he wants us to worship Him. What we are to believe concerning worship "is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture; unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men." (Westminster Confession of Faith, I.VI)
Second, our worship is relational. We are relating to our God in worship and doing so as a community rather than as individuals. It is a gracious and thankful conversation between God and His people. Consequently, worship contains lots of congregational participation.
Our worship would be considered by most today as traditional. We sing psalms and hymns and sing with accompaniment. We confess our sins with a corporate prayer of confession and hear from Scripture the assurance of our pardon. We profess our faith by reciting together one of the historic confessions of the Christian church such as the Apostle's Creed, the Nicene Creed, or the Westminster Confession. Preaching is from the Bible, passage by passage, covering whole books of the Bible over a period of time. We corporately recite the Lord's Prayer. We will frequently observe the Lord's Supper. At the end of each service we receive the Benediction and enjoy some informal fellowship. Click here to see an example of our order of service
Because our worship seeks to glorify God through proclaiming His grace to us in the gospel and by expressing our gratitude to Him in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving, our worship contains lots of congregational participation - it is a gracious and thankful conversation between God and His people.
Why are there children in the worship service? Doesn't your church have a special children's program for them?
The Bible teaches that parents are to instruct and train their children (Deut. 6:7; Proverbs 29:17; Ephesians 6:4), so as a church we attempt to support and assist (not replace) parents in that role. In order to facilitate this, we invite children to stay in the worship service and participate as they are able.
How can a young child understand what is going on?
The Bible talks about children asking parents questions about God (Exodus 12:26; Deut. 6:20), and the parents explaining and teaching (Exodus 12:27; Deut. 6:21-25). A child's presence in worship often provokes them to ask questions about God, sin, and Jesus Christ, giving parents and teachers opportunity to speak to the children about the gospel.
Do the children ever disrupt the service?
Yes, indeed. We assume that a child unfamiliar with or unprepared to sit through an hour long service will most likely cause disruptions during the service. In order to assist parents through such disruptions, parents are encouraged to walk in and out of our worship services at any time. There are rocking chairs at the back, and also an area with speakers (that usually work) just ouside the sanctuary so parents can continue to listen to the service. After a time of "encouragement and training" many children are able to sit still and learn about the Christian faith during the worship service. But in the meantime, while parents are in the process of training children to participate in worship, we bless and thank God for their presence and little voices.
I've noticed a lot of families with younger children sit toward the back. Is that planned?
Yes, the back rows of the church are ideal for children. Most parents with smaller children like to sit where they can easily “escape” with a child if need be, and where younger children can move around during worship without distracting others.
It is easier to send my children to a program during worship instead of having them with me. Isn't having children in worship putting too much emphasis on them?
We agree having children in worship is a lot of work and can be distracting to other worshipers. We also agree wholeheartedly that it is sinful and wrong (idolatry) to put too much emphasis on children. Having acknowledged these realities, the reason we invite children into worship is because they were present in the worship services of the early church (Ephesians 6:1). Just as we desire people from all tongues, tribes, and nations to come to faith in Jesus Christ and worship Him, so too we desire the church's children to come to faith in Jesus Christ and worship Him. So, in the hope that God would graciously regenerate the children by means of their hearing and believing the gospel, we invite them into the worship service.
With all this emphasis on parents training up their children, is Heritage ARP Church a "homeschool" church?
No. We have families with children in private school, in public school, and in home school. Our vision is to be a Christ-centered church bringing the gospel to our community; therefore we have no stance or preferred method for schooling children: methods of schooling children are not our concern. We believe it is solely the parent's responsibility to decide how and where their child(ren) should be educated. So, whether parents choose private schools, public schools, the home, or another option for educating their children matters not to our church; this is an area of Christian freedom, each believer free to make their own decision according to their conscience.