As of Tuesday night, May 5th, our church became a member of Trinity Fellowship Churches. Our elders signed the Partnership Agreement Friday May 1st and then Tuesday night the General Assembly of TFC voted to receive us. For this post I want to share some of the key aspects of TFC.
No, TFC doesn't have a website yet. That's why no hyperlinks in this post. But, it's got a Book of Church Order with approved Rules of Discipline and a solid Confession of Faith. Those priorities are good ones, we think. The website is due to go live later this month.
Getting to Know TFC
It's going to take a little while before our church really knows the leaders throughout TFC, but in God's providence 2020 has some cool opportunities for that. This summer Craig Cabaniss from Frisco, TX, will be teaching a marriage seminar in July and then preaching on Sunday morning. Also, this October we're hosting the TFC General Assembly. We hope while the pastors gather here for that meeting, we can find a way to introduce them to you. And, of course, Ian McConnell has preached here a couple times already.
The Vision of TFC
TFC is a group whose values are closely aligned to ours. That's one of the reasons we explored partnership with TFC and then opted in. In the opening of the Book of Church Order of Trinity Fellowship Churches they describe themselves like this:
Trinity Fellowship Churches is an ecclesiastical union of confessional, connectional, and missional congregations committed to maturing and multiplying disciples with the gospel of Jesus Christ for the glory of God.
Saying they're "confessional" means they're tied to the historic beliefs of Reformed Protestants. In our case that means being tied to the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. That was the starting point of the current Confession of Faith. It has been modified in significant ways, though. The updated Confession affirms our view of spiritual gifts (Continuationist), gender and gender roles (Complementarian), church government (Elder-governed churches with a presbyterian approach to extra-local church government), and has other changes throughout.
To be "connectional" means the member churches are united and connected for the sake of encouragement, protection of one another, and for mission.
"Missional" is a word meant to capture our commitment to evangelism and church planting—but also the side of discipleship where our whole lives become re-imagined with the gospel of Jesus Christ. How does the gospel impact how I relate to my co-workers? The answer to that question (and similar ones) is what we mean by "missional."
The List of Churches
The current slate of churches in TFC isn't big, but it's a group with many seasoned pastors and some very gifted leaders. Here's the current lineup:
- Crossway Church (Peter Privitera & Doug Plank; Millersville, PA)
- King of Grace Church (Paul Buckley; Boston)
- Crossway Church (Bauer Evans; Boston)
- Covenant Community Church (Ian McConnell; Philly)
- Grace City Church of the North East (Rob Chisholm; Philly)
- Christ Church South Philadelphia (Jeff Boettcher; Philly)
- King of Peace Church (Mike Lilley; Salem, MA)
- King’s Cross Church (Jacob Young, Manchester, NH)
- Grace Church Frisco (Craig Cabaniss; Frisco, TX)
- Redemption Hill Church (Shawn Powers; Des Moines, IA)
We are extremely hopeful that with churches with DNA like this, TFC will grow well—not necessarily fast, but well. There is a good blend of courage and care-fulness in these men.
Accountability for SGC Elders
One important role that a denomination performs is providing true accountability for elders. Last night TFC approved its Rules of Discipline and its procedures for how charges are to be made against elders. Since TFC only began last November, having these in place now communicates a lot.
Church Planting Internationally
One change with the move to TFC is how we'll approach missions. In the past our denomination was a key way we participated in the Great Commission. TFC is beginning with a sense we should connect with groups outside of our denomination for the sake of missions. This is an acknowledgement that other groups are further along in figuring how to mobilize church planters internationally, and we should take advantage of their expertise. Church plants in the US are more graspable. So, within the US, TFC itself will oversee church planting for the member churches. We think this dual approach to fulfilling the Great Commission will serve our church extremely well.
A New Name?
Yes, with the change to TFC we're also working toward a name change of SGC. It'll take a little while for that to happen, but we're hopeful that by late summer/early fall we'll have a new name.
As elders of SGC, our primary ministry is right here in this church. We believe TFC will be a great asset to us in fulfilling our ministry, and we're excited about the potential that TFC has. Please join with the elders as we continue to pray for fruitfulness and growth in SGC—and in the TFC churches.