aboutus

Who We Are

 

As a Christ-centered, Gospel focused Church, Mercy Chapel is Gospel People, In Gospel Community, On Gospel Mission

That is to say, we believe we are to be people whose entire lives (and not just our eternal destinies) are transformed by the Gospel because the Good News of Christ’s death and resurrection is not just what we need for salvation, it is what we need for sanctification and all of life.  

 

We believe that when God “saves” someone that he has adopted them into his family and has not left them as fatherless orphans. So, fundamentally to be Christian, means to be in God’s family - living as family in communal relationships is not an option – it is an identity.

 

Further, we believe that God has called us to live on His mission (The Missio Dei) which is to say that God has invited us to participate in his redemption of the whole world through Christ’s work on the Cross.  So, when we say we are Gospel People, in Gospel Community on Gospel Mission we are saying that that we have an identity given to us by God, and based upon His identity:

  • God is Our Creator: we are made for the praise of his glory. We are Worshippers

  • God Revealed Himself as Father: we are his children & together we are Family

  • Jesus is Our King: we are his Servants

  • The Spirit was given to enable mission, we are Missionaries

  • The Spirit teaches us all things, we are Learners

Mercy Chapel, then, is a Family of Missionary Servants called to Worship God and to Learn to walk in His ways.

Who We Are Not

To help clarify our identity we believe it may also be helpful to declare who we are not, not to attack those who disagree with us, but rather to clarify both who we are, as well as who we are committed not to be. 

  • We are not moralists seeking to help people live good lives, but instead we are evangelists laboring that people would become new creations in Christ. 

  • We are not isolationists, instead we seek to partner with like-minded Christians from various churches, denominations and organizations in planting church-planting churches.

  • We are not relativists and gladly embrace Scripture as our highest authority above such things as culture, experience, philosophy, and other forms of revelation.

  • We are not fundamentalists who retreat from cultural involvement and transformation, but rather missionaries faithful both to the content of Scripture and context of ministry.

  • We are not theological liberals who embrace culture without discernment to compromise the distinctives of the gospel, but rather we are Christians who believe the truths of the Bible are eternal and therefore fitting for every time, place, and people.

  • We are not hyper-Calvinists who get mired down in secondary matters, but rather pray, evangelize, and do good works, because we believe that the sovereign plan of God is accomplished through us, His people.

  • We are not eschatological dogmatists, instead we believe that divisive and rigid certainty surrounding particular details of Jesus second coming are unprofitable speculation, because the timing and exact details of His return are unclear to us.

  • We are not egalitarians and do believe that men should head their homes and male elders should lead their churches with masculine love like Jesus Christ who laid down his life for his bride, the church.

  • We are not Open Theists, but believe in the sovereignty and foreknowledge of God in all things.

  • We are not religious relativists and do believe that there is no salvation apart from faith in Jesus Christ alone.

  • We are not nationalists seeking to simply improve one nation but instead ambassadors of the King of Kings commissioned to proclaim and demonstrate the coming of His kingdom to all nations of the earth.

  • We are not evangelical feminists, but believe that God reveals Himself as a Father and is to be honored by the names He reveals to us without apology.

  • We are not Universalists, we believe that many people will spend eternity in the torments of hell as the Bible teaches.

  • We are not naturalists, we believe that Satan and demons are real enemies at work in this world and subject to God.

  • We are not rationalists, we believe that not everything can be known, but that God calls us to live by faith with mystery and partial knowledge regarding many things.

  • We are not embarrassed by the bloody death of Jesus Christ and believe He died as a substitute for the sins of His people in selfless love.

  • We are not ashamed of and do proclaim a loving gospel of grace which sounds like foolishness and offensiveness to the unrepentant while also saving multitudes with ears to hear good news.

  • We are not polemicists who believe that it is our task to combat every false teaching but are passionate about preserving the integrity of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Orthodoxy: The Gospel We Teach (Doctrine)

We have chosen to describe our doctrinal distinctions through a series of paradoxical statements that we believe encapsulate the truths that we hold dear:

 

The Infinite became finite.  The Creator became a creature

Deity and humanity of Christ:  We believe that Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man.  He exists eternally as God.  Two thousand years ago, He was born of a virgin named Mary and became a man.  He lived a sinless life, died on a cross for the sins of mankind and rose from the dead on the third day in order to bring glory to the Father and reconciliation to mankind.  (John 1:1, 20:28; Acts 20:28; Heb 1:8; Titus 1:3, 2:13).

 

By the sin of one, death was passed to all

Original sin and separation from God: We believe humanity was created in the image of God, but that this image was deeply distorted due to the disobedience of Adam in the Garden of Eden.  As a consequence of Adam’s rebellion, every person is born into sin with a nature that is totally depraved, meaning, that humans are  helpless to obtain salvation apart from God’s sovereign grace (Gen 1:26, 2:1-17, 6:5; Rom. 3:10-19; Eph 2:1-3).

By the death of the One, Life was passed to all

Christ’s substitutionary death for mankind’s sin and His bodily resurrection: Mankind’s sin eternally separated mankind from God’s perfect holiness.  The only hope for the reconciliation of mankind to God was for Jesus Christ, who had committed no sin, to take the punishment that mankind deserved and become the propitiation (the payment to appease God’s wrath in place of man’s punishment) for the entire world.  In His literal physical death, Jesus took on the sin of all of mankind and the wrath of God as punishment for that sin.  Three days later, He arose bodily and in doing so, defeated death and appeased God’s just requirements for mankind’s sin.  (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8, 10:9-10).

1+1+1=1

The Trinity:  There is one God who is eternally existent in the Persons: The Father, the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit.  Each of these three Persons is fully God, yet there are not three gods but One.  The Triune God is eternal, uncreated and has no beginning, nor end.  The Trinity is holy, sovereign, gracious and just. (Matt 28:19-20; Mark 12:29; John 1:14; Acts 5:3-4; 2 Cor. 13:14; Heb 1:1-3; Rev 1:4-6)

 

The Rejected Christ will be the Returning King

Return of Jesus:  We believe in the personal, imminent coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for the Church.

(I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Philippians 3:20; Matthew 24:15-31; Zechariah 14:4-11; Revelation 20:1-6; Ez. 37:21-28; 2 Tim 3:1-5)

 

The Infallible inspired the incapable to write the inerrant

Inerrancy and authority of Scripture:  We believe that the Bible is without error in its original form and that it is the church’s absolute authority for faith and life.  We believe that the Bible was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to draw people to faith in Christ and to develop people to become more like Him to the glory of God.  (Mark 12:26, 12:36, 13:11; Luke 24:27; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21)

 

Those Born Once, Die Twice.  Those Born Twice, Die Once

Necessary salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone:  We believe that a person is only saved from the effects and condemnation of sin by placing their faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Faith is a gift from God, and it is given because no one could obtain salvation apart from the grace of God or by their own good works (John 14:6; Rom 5:1-21; Eph 2:8-9;1 Cor.15:1-4)

 

Mortals are immortal and Found Lost people can never become Lost Found People

Eternal nature of all humans and the eternal security of the believer: We believe the souls of believers in Jesus Christ do, at death, immediately pass into His presence, and there remain in conscious bliss until the resurrection of the body at His coming for the Church, when soul and body reunited will be associated with Him forever in glory. We believe the souls of unbelievers remain after death in constant misery in Hades until the final judgment of the Great White Throne at the close of the millennium when soul and body reunited shall be cast into the Lake of Fire, not to be annihilated, but to be punished with everlasting separation from the presence of the Lord (Luke 16:19-26; 23:43; II Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23; II Thessalonians 1:7-9; Revelation 20:11-15).

We believe that once a believer is drawn to God and places their faith in Jesus Christ they will always be saved from God’s wrath and will have forgiveness of sins.  Scripture tells us that not everyone who professes Christ is sincere, but each person who genuinely places their faith and trust in Christ will never lose their salvation.  We also believe that genuine faith and genuine conversion always produces genuine life change.  The same faith that God gives to save a believer is given to enable believers to become obedient to God’s commands and conformed into the image of Jesus Christ.  (John 5:24; 10:28, 13:1, 14:16-17, 17:11; Rom 8:29; 1 Cor. 6:19; Heb. 7:25

Philosophy: The Gospel Life We Equip Toward

We only measure our success by our ability to be and make disciples. (Disciples are individuals who understand what it means to follow Jesus Christ into a life of worship, fellowship, sacrifice, service and yielding to the Spirit.) We are in the business of changed lives. We live to turn the uncommitted and opposed into unashamedly committed, fully devoted followers of Christ. Everything we do is measured by its usefulness, effectiveness and contribution toward this purpose. 

We are committed to being a healthy church that is intentionally and zealously pursuing a Biblical and balanced ministry. Such a ministry, through the power of the Holy Spirit, results in: 

  • New converts to Christ through the work of the ministry

  • New commitments to the local body and the cause of Christ

  • New growth in the grace & knowledge of Christ; and 

  • New leaders for tomorrow's harvest for Christ. 

Stated another way, our desire is to call others to Believe, Belong, Be Trained, Be Strong

 

Believe in Christ

It is our prayer that those who connect with us will be “filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and understanding.” (Col 1:9) According to Scripture, only those who come to faith in Jesus Christ can discern God’s will revealed by His Word the Bible. That is why calling people to faith in Christ is our first priority.  Our commitment is to show those who are far from God and those that are seeking, how they can have peace with God (Eph. 2:17). 

 

We understand that faith in Christ is a very personal thing, but the Bible teaches that it is not a private thing.  Once a person has come to faith in Christ, they are to identify themselves with Him through baptism, identify with his people through communion and tell others about the new life that they have found in Christ.  

 

Belong to His Body

We unashamedly call believers to a “life worthy of the Lord fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work.” (Col 1:10).  Scripture is clear that a “worthy” life is a connected life – one that is active in relationships with other believers and energetically involved in the spiritual development of those around them. (John 17:16-23). God has given each believer spiritual gifts (Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12) that we are to use to build up, encourage and strengthen others.  

Life change happens best in the context of relationships and by submitting to the accountability and edification of other believers, we are moved toward holiness and we are a catalyst for change in the lives of others.  It is our commitment to be a church that is made up of small intimate groups that meet regularly to share life with each other, support and care for each other, sharpen one another and learn from one another.  Jesus said, “Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples,” and that is why Community is central to our existence as a body of faith.  

You will not hear us talk much about “membership” at Mercy, rather we will stress “partnership” because we believe that it is a more accurate term to describe the kind of commitment to each other that the Bible expects of those that want to identify with a local church. According the Scriptures, it is God’s expectation that those in the church will contribute their time, resources and energy as an act of obedience and worship to Him and an act of love to the others in the church.

Be Trained in Truth

A life of full devotion is not a stagnant life and that is why we are committed as a church to “increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10).  While the world is constantly changing, the Word of God offers timeless unchanging truth and authoritative instruction for everything that pertains to life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) We believe that it is vital to the health and the growth of the church that we teach the Bible in such a way as to maintain its original meaning while bringing application to a modern audience.  It is our goal to provide Bible teaching that is scripturally accurate and culturally relevant so that everyone in the body is able to learn and grow.  While we will strive to help mature Christians grow, we will also be careful to explain Biblical terms for those who may be unfamiliar with God’s Word.  We will creatively adapt to our culture while holding fast to God’s enduring truth. (1 Cor. 9:19-23)

 

Be Strong in Worship & Ministry

It is our passion that every person who becomes part of the family at Mercy will be “strengthened with all power” so that they can “joyfully give thanks to the Father.”  

  1. Be Strong in Worship:  We have been created by God to worship Him. Worship is not a part of your life; it is your life. Bringing enjoyment to God and living for his pleasure, should be the first priority of every believer’s life because it is what we were created to do. We believe that worship through a life of prayer, praise, growth, giving and service is normal for growing believers. Every activity can be transformed into an act of worship when you do it for the praise, glory, and pleasure of God. Scripture says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV).  While the "fullness of joy is found in the presence of God" (Psalms 16:11), in man's separation from God, he does not choose to worship God.  Ever since Adam and Eve's choice in the Garden, men have chosen to seek their own pleasure in their quest for happiness instead of realizing that true joy and complete happiness is found in a life of worship.  Worship is an act of humility and submission.  It is a recognition that life is meaningless apart from the Giver of Life and it is a choice to align ourselves with God's purposes for our life.  But it is in this act of humble submission that we find life.  Scriptures tell us that if we will humble ourselves before God, that he will lift us up.  (James 4:6-10, 1 Peter 5:5-6)

  2. Be Strong in Ministry:  Because “true religion,” according to James, is to assist those who are in need, God expects us as His followers to give of ourselves by offering our time and resources to reach out to others.  Being strong in ministry is taking the things that we have learned from the Scripture and teaching it to “faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim 2:2) That is why Mercy is committed to evangelization (the sharing of the good news of the gospel to those who are far from God) social responsibility (the serving of others within our sphere of influence so that they may see our sacrificial actions and be drawn to a relationship with God - Matt 5:16) and mobilization (the development of godly, trained leaders who can reproduce the church’s work around the world). We are committed to a missional strategy of “doing church.”  In other words, we believe that it is not enough to plant a church – we are committed to planting a church that plants more churches.  Jesus instructed his followers to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19) and we believe the most effective way to do that is to train, test and send leaders to plant self-perpetuating, contextually relevant churches.

 

Orthopraxy: The Gospel We Live Out

As Galatians 3:26-20 says we should be, Mercy Chapel is a diverse group of people with a variety of social, cultural, economic and racial backgrounds. We are a kingdom or priests made of every tribe, tongue, people and nation. (Rev 5:9-10). And while we may come from a variety of church traditions, part of what unifies us are the things that all Christians, through all time, have been called to do:

  • We glorify God:  We believe that the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever.  Enjoying who God is and celebrating what He has done is the very definition of worship.

  • We make disciples:  Jesus instructed us in Matthew 28 to make disciples of all nations. Making disciples is more than just evangelizing converts.  It is training to maturity, followers of Jesus who will reproduce themselves in the lives of others.

  • We meet regularly:  Hebrews 10:25 instructs believers not to give up meeting together, but rather to meet and encourage one another.  At a minimum, we gather corporately every Sunday for worship

  • We constantly rehearse the Good News:  The Gospel affects everything.  The Gospel is the good news that God has done and is doing the work to rescue and renew creation. Jesus walked fully submitted to the Father in everything for us so that we, who do not, might have his perfect submission and righteousness in exchange for our rebellion and sin. Jesus took the wrath of God against our sin on himself when he went to the cross and gave everything so that we might be forgiven and redeemed. When He rose again from the dead, He not only proved that He conquered sin and death, but He also lives in order to take possession of what is rightly His – His Bride, the Church.

  • We preach faithfully:  God’s Word, the Bible, is at the center of our corporate gatherings because Jesus has told us that the Scriptures testify about Him and in Him we find eternal life.  

  • We remember through the sacrament of the Lord’s Table: Jesus said that as often as we celebrate communion, we remember Him until he comes.  So communion is part of every Sunday gathering.

  • We respond in worship by giving:  We believe that giving is not God’s way of raising money, it is His way of raising children.  When we give, we remember Jesus who, though He was rich, became poor for us and we give joyfully and not out of compulsion (2 Corinthians 8:9)

  • We pray for - and pray with - each other:  James 5 tells us that the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous avails much.  We believe God answers the prayer offered in faith.

  • We administer care, correction and discipline:  Galatians 6 says that when someone is overtaken by sin, those who live in the Spirit are to restore that person with gentleness and meekness.  

  • We embrace the means that God uses to confer grace upon His children, including the public reading and exposition of Scripture, the sacraments of communion and baptism, prayer, life in communal Christian love, suffering, prayer, and sacrificing through the giving of time, talent and resources.  

  • We use the Spiritual gifts that Jesus has granted to each believer: All believers have spiritual gifts that have been given to build up the church and reach out to the lost.  (Romans 12:6 ff., 1 Corinthians 12:7, 14:26).  When we are together, we deploy those gifts for the building up of the church and furtherance of God’s kingdom.

  • We identify needs and look to meet them:  Acts 2 describes the first church as a group of people willing to sell their property to share in the needs of other Christians.  We actively give to those in our church who are in need in order to help meet their needs.

  • We baptize publicly:  As the Lord adds to our number those who are being saved, we baptize them according to the commands of Jesus.  Baptism is a celebration of the lost being found, so we always make it a party to which those being baptized can invite their friends.  

  • We ordain leaders:  While ordination is not explicitly described in Scriptures, there is a basis for it in the Scriptures (Numbers 27:23, 1 Timothy 4:14, 5:22, 2 Timothy 1:6, etc.)  Ordination is the setting apart of qualified individuals for certain long-term offices or functions within the church.  It differs from commissioning, in that commissioning is generally done for specific short- term tasks.  While there is a great deal of flexibility in the means of ordination, generally the purpose is the same: it is the church’s recognition and affirmation of God’s prior act of appointing, gifting, and empowering of an individual for ministerial service.

 

Eldership: How We Are Led

Mercy Chapel, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, is an autonomous body of believers voluntarily submitting themselves to a form of government that we believe is in accordance with the Scriptures. The official offices of this church, through which all of its powers are administered, shall be occupied by men, or women where specifically permitted, who are raised up by the Holy Spirit, called by the personal conviction of God and appointed by the Board of Elders. We believe that holding office in the church is by: 

  • the calling of God by the Holy Spirit; 

  • the conviction of the will of God on the part of the candidate; and 

  • the approval of the Board of Elders. 

 

The Officers at Mercy are the Elders and those to whom the Board of Elders delegates authority and designates as officers. Selection of new Elders, Deacons and Officers shall be by appointment of the Board of Elders.  At a minimum, Officers will include a President, a Treasurer and a Secretary as designated by the Elders and filed annually with the State of California.

 

Mercy Chapel is Elder led. The Board of Elders governs, corrects, cares for (shepherds) and oversees the spiritual interests of this church. An Elder must meet the qualifications of Scripture and be unanimously installed in his role by the other Elders. 

 

The Board of Elders shall be comprised of not less than three (3) nor more than ten (10) men. The number of Elders must be limited by the number of qualified men that the Lord raises up and the ability of the Board of Elders to maintain intimate, deep and growing relationships between its members. It is imperative that the Board of Elders model accountability, care and every other aspect of authentic biblical community. Great care should be taken as to the effects of the number of Elders on the Board of Elders' intimacy and the integrity of relationships among the members of the Board of Elders. 


The responsibilities of the Board of Elders include: 

  • faithful preaching and teaching of the Gospel from all Scripture

  • providing spiritual leadership for the church

  • directing the affairs of the church

  • receiving and dismissing members 

  • making provision for the direction and conduction of worship services

  • praying for and with the people and watching over their spiritual and physical needs 

  • leading the church's outreach to a lost world

  • providing care and correction for members/partners; and 

  • executing on behalf of the church, deeds, notes, deeds of trust, releases and any other instruments or contracts as may be necessary to comply with God's leading for the church as to real property belonging to, or being acquired, improved or sold by the church. 

 

Calling Elders
Elders are raised up by God to provide spiritual leadership for the church. They are called by the existing Elders to serve in the office of Elder for the benefit of the church. A prospective of Elder will be examined as prescribed below to determine: 

  • his personal knowledge and comprehension of the Word of God, especially as it relates to his being sound in doctrine and his knowledge as to the qualifications for an Elder 

  • his personal philosophy concerning the purpose of the local church and his responsibility as a leader within the church; 

  • his agreement with the beliefs & governance of this church, in its entirety 

  • his ability and willingness to serve and participate actively as an Elder, to attend faithfully the services and programs of the church and to support the various programs and activities of the church

  • his ability to teach and his desire to cultivate this ability for the Lord 

  • his life of making disciples for Christ; and 

  • his history of being in biblical community including accountable, caring, submissive and enduring relationships with other believers 

 

Removal of Elders
No person can be removed from the Board of Elders except for just cause as determined by a unanimous vote of the Board of Elders (exclusive of the Elder whose removal is being considered). Just cause includes, but is not limited to: an elder being under church discipline (care and correction) for sinful choices, an elder whose children or spouse leaves the faith, or an elder whose schedule or stage of life the effects his ability to continue to lead or maintain biblical community with the other members of the Elder Board. If any Elder fails to maintain biblical community with the other members of the Elder Board, he should be informed and asked to make immediate adjustments to his schedule or voluntarily resign his office. The Board of Elders will accept the written resignation of an Elder whenever submitted. 

Ordination and Commissioning of Elders, Deacons and Staff 

It is our confidence that God will raise up Spirit-filled and gifted men and women from among us who will be called to a life of proclaiming the Gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ. Such men and women may be given a commission to lead God's people, as is appropriate in scripture and share in the privileges and responsibilities thereof. The Board of Elders shall determine the process, requirements, timing and forms leading to ordination. The Board of Elders may also commission Members to serve as ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ under its authority. The Board of Elders may delegate to individuals, committees or organizations the right to transact any of its business or to exercise any of its powers, but the exercise of such delegation shall be subject to the supervision and control of the Board of Elders.