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."
||"And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the
beginning, the firstborn from the dead;"
||"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".
- He (or she) may look around for a Christian group whose doctrines
and behaviour are nearest to what the Bible teaches, and worship the
Most High each Sabbath day with that group.
- Or if such a group does not exist in the area, he may, under the
Almighty's prompting and guidance, consider starting one.
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
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.'
- The Church of Smyrna (Rev. 2:8)
- The Church of Sardis (Rev. 3:1)
- The Church of Laodicea (Rev. 3:14)
'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.
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.
- To preach the Everlasting Gospel.
- To put Bibles (or even smaller books, like one of the gospels)
into the hands of those who are searching for truth.
- To visit the sick or those who are in prison for the Word of God.
- To help the aged, the orphan, the poor.
- To speak or write against the popular evils being practised in our
- To highlight a particular truth that is in danger of being
ignored: e.g. the True Sabbath Day or the Feast Days of the God of Israel.
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:
|Patience||Control the tongue & temper
|Meekness||Give others a chance
|Hospitality||Entertain the needy
|Generosity||Finance church projects
|Kindness||Help particular people
|Diligence||Maintain church property
|Wisdom||Write 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.
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:
- A man's good looks, wealth, educational qualifications
- Social standing, fame, material possessions
- Or even with his knowledge of the Scriptures.
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:
- Repentance, faith, gratitude
- Faithfulness, honesty, diligence and dedication
- A desire to believe and understand His Word
- Obedience, which is faith in action
- Purity of heart, holiness.
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:
- Joseph: disliked by his brothers, but holy and wise.
- David: not highly esteemed by his family, even by his
father, but a man after God's own heart.
- Jeremiah: Totally rejected in his day, but bold and true in
the face of enormous odds.
- John the Baptist: Forthright and very humble.
- The Apostles: To all outward appearances, ordinary men, but
men who will one day sit and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew
- Messiah: Rejected of mankind and crucified as a common
criminal; but one who was faithful unto death and who is scheduled to
rule the mighty universe as KING of Kings and LORD of Lords.
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.
- Elders must be blameless!
- The husband of one wife. A vitally important point this
one, especially in this world of collapsing moral standards.
- Have faithful children who are not accused of riot or
- Not self-willed.
- Not short-tempered.
- Not a drunkard or glutton.
- Not a brawler or contentious person.
- Not someone who is in the church for the money.
- He must be a lover of hospitality.
- A friend of good men.
- He must be sober minded.
- Elders must hold to the truth (Bible doctrine) and also be able
to teach, exhort and to convince the opposition.
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
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)
If possible organise the following meetings:
- Divine Service / Sabbath (Saturday) Morning: This is the
main meeting of the week and should last about one and a half hours.
It should be a time for prayer, Bible readings, sacred songs and
sermons. See section 9 where the matter of study is dealt with.
- Sabbath Afternoon Meetings: again a time for readings and
prayer - though perhaps not a time for lengthy sermons. This is not
always possible if you have no hall of your own.
- Prayer Meeting: (on a Friday evening when the Sabbath is due
to begin. During this meeting various books of the Bible can be
studied - one or two chapters per week. Discuss a few verses at a
time. End with a session of prayer. Encourage several believers to
pray short prayers of a few minutes each. Some groups have the prayer
meeting on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
- Family prayers: All members should be encouraged to
organise daily, family prayers in their own homes. This may
consist of a Bible reading and prayer. I would rate family prayer
& Bible study as the most important function in which a
Christian family can engage. Disastrous consequences await those who
neglect it. See point 9.
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.
- His Laws: These tell us how we should live. Spend time
reading these to the congregation. It is usually quite obvious which
laws are ceremonial and which are not. If you have difficulty
understanding them, see our article on
- His Prophets: These instruct, advise and warn us of coming
events as we approach the return of Christ.
- Examples: These are the hundreds of real-life experiences
illustrating how the Almighty works in the lives of people. He will do
exactly the same with each of us - because He doesn't change. The
real-life examples found throughout Scripture should therefore be
closely studied by all who seek to understand how the Almighty God
There are several methods of preparing sermons. Here are two:
- 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.
- 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:
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
- Yahweh must be with you. This is mandatory.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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
- 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.
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
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.
Elder: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland
October 1996 ... Updated: December 1999