WHO WE ARE
WHO WE ARE
Every fire needs to be stoked on a regular basis or it will burn out. The coals need to be stirred, the flame needs to be fanned, and more fuel needs to be added. The same is true within the church. If we do not regularly stoke the fire of worship and discipleship in our churches, it will surely fade.
A collective is simply a group of like minded people. One person is limited in strength, creativity, and resources, but with a collective, opportunities are endless.
When you bring a group of passionate disciples together who have the same desire to stoke the culture of the local church, you get The Stoke Collective. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, our mission is to build up leaders to reach our community and increase the territory of The Church as we revitalize churches and help start new ones.
Jesus set the example for Christians to follow as he bore the sins of the world on the cross: he was a sacrifice. Not only did his servant’s heart lead to death, but it fulfilled the will of the father, and as a result, Jesus became a living sacrifice as he defeated death and conquered sin. For Jesus, sacrifice was the key to truly living. Jesus requires the same commitment of his followers, and in Luke 9:23-24, Jesus teaches that his disciples must also live sacrificially, denying their selfish desires and taking up their cross. He goes on to explain that if someone truly wants to save their life, they will lose it. In Romans 12:1-2, the apostle Paul teaches the church the same principle, explaining that our spiritual act of worship is to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. Thus, the action of worship and obedient living of the Christ follower requires a life of sacrifice.
In its most basic form, to nurture is to help develop a child into a mature adult by meeting the physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental needs of the child. Within the church, and as children of God, it is necessary that each Christian be cared for in such a way that they develop into mature Christ followers. To nurture someone spiritually, you must be in close proximity with them, and the relationship must ultimately be founded on genuine love. Ephesians 4:1-16 explains this important practice within the church, emphasizing the importance of “speaking truth in love,” so that the end result is maturing into Christ. In order to be prepared for the great work God has called us to, the church must be nurtured.
God sent Jesus to a lost and dying world to establish his kingdom and expand its territory through salvation. The responsibility of expanding the kingdom after Jesus ascended was placed on the disciples to make disciples of all nations. As the church body grows to be spiritually strong and represent Christ, we must also embody Jesus’ passion for bringing salvation to a lost world as we reach out to those who have not yet heard about Christ. Just as Paul ministered to the church of Corinth (2 Cor. 10:13-18), our desire should be to reach and carry out the Gospel work in our area of influence, increasing faith, and expanding our reach.
When Jesus commissioned his disciples to make other disciples, he emphasized that it was necessary to teach those that they reached out to all that Jesus had commanded. At its core, a disciple is a student seeking to be like their teacher. At Stoke, as we care for individuals and nurture them, and as we actively apply discipleship by reaching out, it is necessary that we also teach and educate Christ followers to be biblically sound, growing to maturity where the disciples can spiritually reproduce.
As we grow to be a healthy church, it is also important to invest in the overall health of the global church through partnerships, which is where our name “The Stoke Collective” comes from. As a collective, or unified body of believers, we are called to live the Christian life in community, sharing in partnership with like-minded churches. Not only do we want to give in partnership, but we desire to have other like-minded churches lock arms with us. Through this process of giving and receiving in partnership, the Stoke Collective can maintain its fire and help stoke other churches to burn bright as well. When multiple fires come together, they form an unstoppable force, and that is what we hope to be spiritually around the world.
What We Believe
What We Believe
The Holy Bible is the inspired word of God penned by human hands to reveal God’s mission for his creation. The story of the Bible displays God’s character and desire for mankind through his covenants, along with mankind’s epic journey revealing our dire need for a savior. Both Old and New Testaments of God’s covenant point to Jesus, the savior and means of justification to bring sinful man back into relationship with God. The truth of Scripture is absolute, inerrant, and complete. The contents of the Bible serve as nourishment for our souls, guiding those in Christ to live in submission to God and in community with one another.
There is one living and active God, revealed in Scripture, worthy of worship from all created things. God exists in three persons as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is holy, perfect, and good. God expects obedience and order from his creation and does not tolerate sin. God relentlessly pursues relationship with his people, and is loving and caring, yet he is wrathful towards sin, not allowing any hint of sin in his perfect kingdom.
God the Father is the creator and sustainer of life, and provides the care of a father to those that have entered into his family through the salvation of Jesus. As father, God exercises his sovereignty over creation, working all things to his will, and securing the salvation of his children. God the father is all knowing, in full control, and responsible for the order of creation.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God, was conceived of the Holy Spirit, and born of a virgin. Jesus is both fully God and fully man, completely perfect and sinless, who set an example for his followers as a living sacrifice in total submission to the will of God the Father. Jesus’ earthly ministry climaxed with his innocent death and resurrection, satisfying the wrath of God towards sin as a payment for human sin and providing the means of justification for all who believe. His earthly ministry concluded as he commissioned his disciples and ascended to reign in heaven at the right hand of God.
The Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit that convicts of sin and empowers Christ followers to become like Christ. The Holy Spirit is responsible for equipping the child of God for ministry, constantly working in the Christian’s life to make them reflect the true image of Christ through the process of sanctification.
Man is a special creation of God, made in his image. Man was created to bring pleasure to God and dwell with the Lord in a close relationship, but through disobedience, man has been separated from God. This disobedience causes all mankind to “miss the mark” of God’s glory, and is born into the world depraved and in need of salvation.
Mankind’s sinful state is not something that can be remedied by sinful man apart from God, cannot be bought or earned, and is distributed as a free gift to those God draws to himself. Salvation can only be obtained through the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. Salvation is the process of God redeeming the sinner to himself, legally justifying the guilty sinner as not guilty, sanctifying the Christ-follower to Christ-likeness, and ultimately glorifying the Christ-follower to a perfect state upon their earthly death and heavenly resurrection.
Grace is the free gift of Salvation given by God to those whom he elects for Salvation. Grace is not a license to sin, but the power and freedom to overcome sin. Grace involves God’s will to justify those who respond to his call to follow Christ, made evident by one’s confession of faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Grace is also the means in which God keeps those he has chosen for salvation, ensuring that those whom he has called persevere to the end.
The Church is the assembly of all those who confess Christ as Lord, operating as a body under the headship of Jesus. The Church, as exemplified in the New Testament, is God’s means of sharing the good news of Jesus locally and globally, ensuring that the gospel extends to the ends of the earth. The church is empowered to fulfill the mission of God, but also to provide community for one another. Unity must be protected in the church, with Jesus as the center point of the church’s focus. On a local level, the church operates through democratic process under the leadership of elders and service by deacons, where members and leaders share responsibility under the headship of Christ
As Christ followers, we are responsible for living a life of worship, which is modeled through a life of sacrifice and service to the Lord (Romans 12:1-2). Worship is man’s obedient response to God. Worship involves man’s experience, but man’s experience should never be the focus of worship. God should always be the center of our worship. Worship is not limited to the songs we sing either, but is a lifelong expression of loving God. As we think about how wonderful God is and speak of his goodness, we display a heart of worship. As we live in obedience to Jesus’ commission to make disciples, surrendering our own agendas, we act in worship. As we serve the orphans and the widows and bend our hearts in the same direction as Jesus’, we worship. Worship should be the natural response of the Christ follower.
Throughout the Old Testament, we see that God expected worship to be taken seriously and orderly, but more important than the ritual of worship was the heart of the worshiper. Throughout the New Testament, no specific order of worship is given, and no particular style of musical worship is expected. What the Bible does clearly tell us in the book of Psalms (songs) is that we are to sing joyfully to the Lord. In fact, new songs are encouraged to be sung, and we should perform our musical worship with excellence. The content of our worship is what is valuable to the Lord. Our heart must be right, and the words that we sing need to match his words in Scripture.
The Stoke Collective likes to compare worship styles to the exchanging of a gift. For example, at Christmas every year, folks purchase or make a special gift for someone they love. The giver of the gift takes careful time to wrap the gift, crease the paper just right, and finish it off with a nice bow. Now stop for a moment and think about what the recipient of the gift does? He or she tears the wrapping paper off to see the gift that is on the inside. The wrapping paper was important for a moment, but at the end of Christmas day, the wrapping paper gets balled up and thrown into the trash, but the gift remains in the hands of the recipient.
We believe that when we worship, our musical style is like the wrapping paper of a gift. We believe the Lord hears the melody and quickly looks inside to hear our heart. At the end of the day, it’s our heart that is remembered when we worship, not our style.
Does this mean that we ignore worship styles? Not at all. The style of worship and quality of the music we sing should stoke the fire and encourage others to sing. The style should captivate musicians to want to play, and perk the ears of the lost so that they hear the Gospel. But mostly, our hearts should be bowed before the Lord in worship of Him alone, which trumps the style of the songs every time.
An elder is a man of exemplary, Christ-like character who is able to lead God’s people by teaching them God’s Word in a way that profits them spiritually. God calls elders and grants them authority to lead the affairs of the church under His direction. They primarily provide spiritual leadership through prayer and teaching the Bible. When necessary, they may delegate certain organizational and administrative responsibilities outside of pastoral teaching to other individuals and teams as they see fit. Under the leadership of elders are deacons, who maintain servant roles in the church. Because of the leadership responsibilities deacons maintain and the proximity in which they work with elders, this office, like that of the elder, is reserved for men. The office of deacon is best thought of as an extension of the elder’s reach in ministry, and is the first group that elders may delegate ministerial tasks too.
There are two sacraments in which the Lord instructs the church to partake of: Baptism and The Lord’s Supper. Baptism is the immersion of a repentant Christ-follower in water, symbolic of the death, burial, and resurrection a Christian experiences upon receiving Christ. The Christian should be baptized as a testimony of salvation upon the example of a repentant lifestyle.
The Lord’s supper is the eating of bread and drinking of juice, which symbolize Jesus’ body broken and blood poured out as a sacrifice for sin. Jesus’ instruction was to partake in this special meal “in remembrance of me.” The church shall observe the Lord’s Supper frequently, as to never forget the price paid Jesus for our salvation, administered by an elder and served by the deacons.
Christians are those that have responded to the good news of Jesus’ salvation and have surrendered their life to follow Christ. Those that follow Christ are his disciples, and for the remainder of their time on earth, disciples are responsible to be on mission with God through the process of discipleship where they bind with other disciples to live sacrificially and share the Gospel with all types of people. Following Christ leads the Christian to align with God’s mission, which in turn means sharing Christ with non-Christians, growing together with other disciples, and being on mission to expand the Gospel’s reach to the ends of the earth.
The church is to be on mission with God to extend the good news of Jesus to the ends of the earth and to treat this responsibility with urgency, because Jesus is coming again. Jesus came first to bring salvation, but when he comes again, he will come to judge. The righteous will be gathered to reign with Christ in his eternal kingdom, and those that have not repented and confessed Christ as Lord will receive the eternal punishment of hell.
God is the creator of the universe, and everything in it is his. We are merely stewards of what God owns, and we must handle every resource entrusted to us with care, whether it be a talent, material possession, or thought. How we deal with our finances shows a great deal of how we manage our spiritual life. Because God expects us to live sacrificially, he also expects us to give sacrificially. Our finances, resources, talents, and thoughts must all be designated for the Lord and given appropriately to the service of the church to accomplish the mission of God.
The church will naturally organize itself into local autonomous bodies of believers, but must understand that it is a part of a much larger, global church. For this reason, it is necessary that the church not only be concerned about its general welfare within a specified body, but the success and fulfillment of God’s mission globally. Out of a genuine concern for Christian unity and an understanding to make disciples of all nations, it is imperative that like-minded Christian churches preaching the same Gospel cooperate with one another to expand ministry and protect Christian community.
The family is the foundational institution for all human interaction, and much instruction is given in Scripture to unify the family and preserve it from one generation to the next. To destroy God’s structure for the family is to destroy God’s intent for human community and all social interactions. Oriented in a worshipful relationship with God and with the instruction to “be fruitful and multiply,” the family begins with the union of one man with one woman in marriage, and this union is not intended to be broken by divorce or shared with anyone else. Upon marriage, children born of the husband and wife or adopted into their family are to be under the physical and spiritual care of their parents, and the great responsibility of raising children in such a way that God is glorified becomes chief goal of parenthood. God-honoring families submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, raise children to fear and worship the Lord, and pass the Christian faith on to the next generation.
On the other hand, homosexual unions are not biblical family units, and do not exemplify God’s design for sexual intimacy or human marriage. Homosexual relationships are to be forbidden among Christians because homosexuality is sinful. Likewise, pornography must be avoided, as it demeans the opposite sex into an object of pleasure, and the act of lust is comparable to adultery by Jesus. Any relationship with the opposite sex that might lead to unfaithfulness to your spouse should be avoided, as it will degrade and divide the family unit. Sex outside of marriage, whether before marriage or during marriage with someone who is not your spouse is an act of unfaithfulness to the one your spouse. Furthermore, the sanctity of human life must be protected from conception, understanding that abortion is an act of murder, which further sins against God’s command to be fruitful and multiply.