Stewarton Bible School

Establishing a Church Group

Where is the True Church?

This question is asked by thousands of believers each year; and the answers to it are more varied than one can imagine. To make matters worse each denomination claims to be the True Church, the single channel of truth through which the Almighty is doing His work. You'll hear of groups calling themselves the Remnant Church, the First Church, the True Church, the Last-Day Church, the Apostolic Church, the Church of God and so on. The list is long. We understand that there are currently over 2000 Christian denominations on earth and the number is still growing. What a tragic situation is this: that men and women in their millions should delude themselves into thinking that they can monopolise the Almighty's message and imagine that He is working through their group alone and not through others.

The truth is this: Yahweh can no more be monopolised by a single believer or group than He could be by a single farmer or farming corporation. He is too big for that, and the sooner denominational leaders realise this fact the better it will be for the believers in their groups. Admittedly, the Almighty does work more successfully with some groups than with others; but that depends on how faithfully they apply the rules He has set in motion for the growth and production of spiritual harvests.

Yet, paradoxically, according to the Scriptures the Almighty God of Israel does have only one church - one body - on earth:
1 Corinthians 10:17 "For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread."
1 Corinthians 12:12 "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit ... But now are they many members, yet but one body."
Colossians 1:18 "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead;"
Romans 12:4 "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."

The official register for this one body - the true church - is called the Lamb's Book of Life. It is the only church register recognised in the courts of heaven, and if you do not have your name in that book, then no matter where else it may be recorded it will avail you nothing in the Day of Judgement.

To join the True Church, which has its register in heaven, a person must have faith in Yahweh the Almighty God of Israel and personally accept by faith the salvation which He has freely offered through His Son Jesus Christ (Yeshua the Messiah). In addition to faith, which is the starting point of one's walk with God, a believer must exhibit his/her faith by endeavouring to keep Yahweh's commandments. Faith, in other words, must find expression in obedience. The moral laws we are expected to obey are recorded in the first few books of the Bible. They are amplified and explained in the Sermon on the Mount and repeatedly demonstrated in the lives of the prophets, the Apostles and the Saviour himself.

But where on earth is the True Church? Can anyone point to this or that denomination and say, "Here is the True Church of the Almighty God. All its members have the required faith and they are all obedient." It would be wonderful to be able to point to any group and say that with conviction. But the truth is we dare not - because it would not be true. For the fact is, you will not find all the members of the true church in one denomination. Nor will you find many denominations which do not have at least one member of the true church. In other words, the members of the true church are at this moment in time scattered throughout the various groups of Christendom. This conclusion shouldn't really come as a surprise to anyone. It is obvious. But one day soon, there is going to be 'one flock' under the Good Shepherd; and only then - for the very first time in centuries - we will be able to point to a single company and say, "Here is the True Church of God. (John 10:16) In the meantime a believer has one of two options to follow if he wants to "join a Church".


The following guidelines, and do remember that these are guidelines not rules, are given to those who wish to raise up a Sabbath-keeping group in their area. This step should only be taken in extreme circumstances, when it is not possible or beneficial to worship with an already established group in your area. So do not rush off and try to establish a separate congregation when one which has virtually the same teachings already exists in your locality; because if there is no special need and leading from above, your efforts will end in failure.

1. The Group's Name

There is much argument between groups as to the name of the church; but from the book of the Revelation we can plainly see that it is perfectly in order to refer to a congregation by its local name. e.g. Strictly speaking, these are descriptions not names. A name by definition is a proper noun by which a person is called. For example consider the statement: 'Sarah, wife of Abraham.'

'Sarah' is her name, the proper noun she would answer to if called: whereas the phrase 'wife of Abraham' describes her relationship with Abraham. It tells us that she is his wife. But the proper noun 'Sarah' tells us what her name is. In the same way the phrase 'The church of God' is not a name, but a descriptive phrase telling us to whom the church belongs. It belongs to God. It is God's church.

As for the church's name: it would be more accurate to call her Zion or Israel. The point being made here is that the phrase 'church of God' is not a name, but a descriptive phrase. However, for the purpose of identification, it is perfectly in order to use such descriptions as names and many groups do.

The 'church' (the original word 'ecclesia' means "those who are called out and set aside for God") can equally be described by the name of the town, the village or the area in which the 'called-out ones' meet. In your case it could be the church or congregation of (your town's name) or simply the Bible Class of (your street's or district's name).

Our name 'Stewarton Bible School (SBS)' is an example of the use of a local name to identify our group. We are nevertheless well aware of the fact that Yahweh works through other believers and other groups just as surely as He uses other farmers and farming corporations, granting to each a harvest in line with their motives, doctrines and performance.

2. Membership

Having a church register is perfectly in order. Registers were kept in ancient Israel and can be extremely useful. They help organise the work of the congregation and enable the leadership to contact and inform the believers in the area as to the various group activities being planned. But never forget that earthly registers - useful though they may be - are no substitute for having one's name on the Lamb's Book of Life; because unless the members are converted and have their names on that heavenly register, having their names on the local register is of little value. Stewarton Bible School (SBS) does not have a membership role, simply because our students are scattered around the world and we have absolutely no way of knowing their spiritual standing with God, or even what they believe. But, as stated above, having a register of members is perfectly in order and has many advantages.

3. Doctrinal Aim

It should be the aim of every Christian to "Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." (Ecclesiastes 12:13) This instruction appears in our letterhead. Yahweh is the name of the Most High, the deity whom Abraham, Isaac and Israel worshipped. Our Bible Course of 21 lessons will further explain this aim and the fundamental doctrines SBS considers essential for the development of Christian character. Feel free to print and photocopy those lessons in your group study. Correct doctrine is based on the Bible and the Bible only: and may be summed up in the sentence: Trust and obey Yahweh.

In addition to the basic aim of faith and obedience, groups should also have specific or individual aims. Here are a few examples:

These are just a few of the well known aims church groups could have. The list is obviously longer and you may conceive many more.

Personal Aims

Besides these group aims, each person in the congregation should have a personal goal. The best, in my view, is holiness - to be like Yahweh and His Son Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus the Christ). Other personal aims could be:
PatienceControl the tongue & temper
MeeknessGive others a chance
HospitalityEntertain the needy
GenerosityFinance church projects
KindnessHelp particular people
DiligenceMaintain church property
WisdomWrite spiritual articles
Love - Not as the world knows love, but as God loves us.

These are, of course, the fruit of the Holy Spirit and every believer should aim to produce them. Understanding correct doctrine is important: but never forget that doctrine is merely the spiritual skeleton, the chassis, the framework on which character is built. The mature person, the grown-up believer will always be recognised by the fruit of the Holy Spirit. In other words, endeavour to translate correct doctrine into holiness. A person's character, behaviour, manner, personality, thoughts, words and deeds constitute the flesh that covers the bare bones of sound doctrine. In the final judgement we will be judged by our behaviour, not our knowledge of doctrine. Remember this fact.

4. Leadership

The unseen leader of each group must be the Almighty Himself. His Spirit should be allowed full sway to lead the leaders. Always bear in mind that Yahweh does not measure by human standards. He is not impressed by: Others are impressed by these things: but the Almighty is not. If you seek to establish a group in your area you should endeavour to judge as Yahweh judges: not by the outward appearances, but by spiritual fruit. Yahweh looks for: Yahweh's warriors are often ignored by the world, ridiculed and rejected by those who judge by human standards; but in the final analysis they are the ones of worth and lasting fame. They will be the ones who will rule with Him during the coming millennium. Examples of the types of leaders Yahweh chose are: In Titus 1:5-8 you will find a detailed overview of the kind of believers who should be chosen as leaders or Elders. Qualities listed there are: As you can see, these are extremely high standards, and you may wonder if any elder can meet them all. But that is the goal. They obviously can be met with Jehovah's help - so strive for them. If a group ignores these Scriptural guidelines or engages leaders who contravene these biblical requirements, be sure that that group will pay the price in tears.

5. Premises

It is not necessary to own a building. The Church (called-out believers) can meet in a private home or a rented hall. Buildings can be extremely expensive to maintain and should only be purchased or built in exceptional circumstances. i.e. when they can be put to good use by a large group. The early church held most of its meetings in private homes. If, however, you can afford to build or buy your own meeting place, then go ahead. SBS meets in hired halls.

6. Finance

Use the tithes and offerings to cover local expenses and to finance the various projects the group may wish to undertake. Encourage the members (and I use the word 'members' to mean those who attend the meetings ) to pay tithes. A tithe is one tenth of one's income. The tithe is Yahweh's: it belongs to Him and we should all endeavour to return it to Him for the upkeep of His work. (Deuteronomy 12:6, Malachi 3:10). See lesson 21 of our Bible Course. A group of even a few tithe-paying believers can accomplish an enormous amount of worthwhile work for the Most High. If at all possible, workers should give of their services free of charge!

This is how SBS operates. We are all unpaid workers: but Yahweh has blessed us bountifully. But do not imagine it is all giving and no receiving. You may be sure that the Eternal will repay everyone who supports the work by blessing him/her in this life and in the life to come. God is no man's debtor. He will always give you back a lot more than you ever give Him.

It is not always necessary or even advisable to engage full-time workers. It's amazing how much can be accomplished by part-time staff. This will keep costs down to an absolute minimum; because the payment of wages and the upkeep of buildings are by far the greatest expense most church groups encounter. Both these costs can be avoided in most cases, thereby releasing valuable funds for church projects. Nevertheless, do recompense - with money if need be - those workers who are in need of help. A workman is worthy of his hire. But be cautious here because you will be paying out with Yahweh's money. (Deuteronomy 25:4, 1 Corinthians 9:9, 1 Timothy 5:18)

7. Meetings

If possible organise the following meetings:

8. Numbers

A Christian group may start with 2 or 3 believers. The Master has promised, "... Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst." (Matthew 18:20) He keeps his promises. It is, of course, nice to worship with a large group of several hundreds or even thousands: but small groups have some advantages which larger companies lack. The size of the group is not the critical factor, so long as the Holy Spirit is present. If He is with you then you will be successful. If He isn't, then you labour in vain.

9. Bible Study

The most important aspect of a group's activities is prayer and Bible study. You will find that the strongest members of the group will be those who are at the Prayer and Study meetings. In this article Bible study will be briefly covered. Believers should be encouraged to read the Real Bible through - yes from Genesis to Revelation. It is surprising how many Christians have never done this. They have read parts of the Bible, but never the whole book. And yet it is true to say that no one will ever properly understand the message of salvation until they have studied the Bible. In it Yahweh has detailed His plan in: Encourage group discussion at the prayer and study meetings. Have a question and answer session. Members should be encouraged to study at home with their families - mornings and evenings. The Scriptures constitute the spiritual food upon which believers live; and they should be read every day at least twice. Failure to do so will result in faintness of heart and spirit, loss of faith and finally to sin.

10. Sermons

There are several methods of preparing sermons. Here are two:
  1. Using the Bible Concordance. Select a subject and read every text in the Bible about that subject. Then analyse those texts, separating them into group meanings. What is being said, to whom, why, by whom, for what purpose etc. Look for the instruction, the warnings and the overall spiritual lessons in the examples. Remember many of those ancient dramas are living prophecies with meaning for our day. Then deliver the sermon - quoting the Bible texts. It is most important to set aside your own ideas about the matter and to speak only what the Bible is saying. Resist the temptation to preach your own opinions. Preach the Word! (2 Timothy 4:2) Do this and you will win Yahweh's approval.

  2. The second method of preparing a sermon is to select a chapter in the Scriptures, read it through and then explain it verse by verse. This is an extremely good method and was/is used by some of the world's greatest preachers. You'll not need extensive notes when using this method, because the chapter itself will keep you on track. Read a verse then explain it - giving an example if need be. Read another verse and explain it - and so on.

Stewarton Bible School provides Sermon Notes for those who may be involved in preaching and teaching the Word of God. These are brief notes which have already been used at our Sabbath morning services. They cover a wide variety of Biblical subjects, many of which are not dealt with in our Bible Course.


The basic requirements for starting a group are:
  1. Yahweh must be with you. This is mandatory.
  2. Your motives must be right. Why are you starting a new group in the first place? Is it hurt pride, the spirit of competition, or what? If your motives are right and the Almighty is with you, you will have success. But if not, then failure lies ahead.
  3. Your doctrines must be based on the Bible. They may be summed up in the phrase Trust and Obey, or Fear God and keep His commandments. Beware of speculation or following manmade traditions, no matter how attractive and popular they may appear to be.
  4. Choose a name which either describes the particular goal you wish to attain, or one that links you with the town or district in which you live.
  5. You must try to become self-supporting. The tithes and offerings collected from the congregation should be sufficient to finance all your projects. Try to live within your means. In other words do not spend more than your income.
  6. You must have regular weekly meetings: Divine Service, Prayer and Bible Study. You ought to have a group aim - a purpose for existence, a good reason for getting started in the first place.
  7. Finally: you must be convinced in your own mind that come what may you will begin and finish the work Yahweh has called you to do.
Stewarton Bible School started along these lines and over the years the Almighty has greatly blessed us. We have had our setbacks. Indeed had we known the guidelines we are listing here we could have perhaps avoided most of them; so we pass on this information to you hoping that the Almighty will use them to guide those who are making genuine efforts to raise up a Sabbath-keeping congregation around this wide world.

Oh it is so easy to make plans and ask the Most High to bless them with success. Better that you ask Yahweh to lead you, to direct you to do His will. Then make your plans. If you do this, praying all the while that His Spirit will be with you, then success will be yours.


Is it possible to take the Everlasting Gospel to every hamlet and hut in the world? Yes it is possible. It is well within our reach with His help. Is it possible to proclaim Yahweh's law to every soul on earth and to demolish the errors with which paganism and unbelief have invaded the Christian church? Yes, even this seemingly impossible task is well within our reach, if the Most High continues to be with us.

Is it possible to batter down the very gates of hell and rescue those who are virtually within the Beast's jaws? Absolutely so: this is not only possible but it is going to be accomplished - soon. Yahweh the Almighty God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel is about to do a universe-shaking act of rescue, when He overthrows the Temple of Dagon, demolishes the altars of Baal and inscribes His law in the minds of His people. Oh what a glorious and awesome day that will be. It is fast approaching!

Stewarton Bible School is greatly honoured to be engaged in this work, especially on the Internet. We are delighted to have this opportunity to share with you the great truths you have been studying lately. Pass them on! Meanwhile, we continue to pray to the Master that He will bless you abundantly with mercy, enlightenment, direction and spiritual strength to serve Him as you ought to. And now may:

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
The LORD make his face shine upon thee,
and be gracious unto thee:
The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

(Numbers 6:24-26)

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Elder: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland
October 1996     ... Updated: December 1999