Statements of Faith—What, Why, How?
By Cam Leedahl
Groups or leadership teams who want to remain exclusive for doctrinal reasons often choose to have the members or leaders sign a statement of faith.
What are the advantages of having a written statement of faith? Continuity of vision and unity without doctrinal disagreements are given as advantages. In the research I’ve done, there were leaders who wish they had started out with a statement of faith. Now they are regretting their lack of foresight as they face a leadership team falling apart because of division.
What are some of the disadvantages? The resulting exclusiveness may drive away persons you wish to keep or attract. Many groups have only the leadership sign the statement, in order to keep the meetings and activities open to as many people as possible. Even so, those individuals who want to be in leadership, and cannot agree with the statement of faith, may protest and leave your group, or cause dissension. Having people leave is not necessarily bad. There is always room for another support group. However, dissension can be quite disruptive, so you need to anticipate and prepare for the eventuality that someone will challenge the existence or contents of your statement of faith.
What should we put in such a statement? Just how broad or narrow it will be depends on what you want the make-up of your group or leadership team to be. Consider making it broad enough to include those who disagree on non-essential matters, yet narrow enough to exclude those who have beliefs and opinions you consider unacceptable. You can modify the following samples to fit your group, or start from scratch.
- We believe the Bible to be the inspired, infallible word of God, the supreme and final authority for all faith and life.
- We believe that there is one GOD, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, His sinless life, His miracles, His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father and in His imminent bodily return in power and glory.
- We believe man was created in the image of God but fell into sin and is therefore lost; only those who put their faith in Jesus Christ alone can be saved.
- We believe Christ has already done everything necessary by his death to remove our sins and make us holy from God’s point of view.
- We believe that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict men, indwell, guide and empower the believer for Godly living and service.
- We believe in the bodily resurrection of both the saved and the lost; of the saved to everlasting joy with the Lord, of the lost to judgment and everlasting conscious punishment.
- We believe the Bible to be inspired of God, infallible and the supreme and final authority for all faith and life; and that there is one GOD, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- We believe in the virgin birth and sinless life, literal death and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- We believe that mankind is lost without hope and doomed to eternal destruction without salvation, and that salvation is obtained only by grace through faith in the shedding of Jesus Christ’s blood for the atonement and remission of our sins. (From BA’CHEN group, used with permission.)
(From Camilla Leedahl’s book, The Homeschool Support Group: A Handbook for Christian Leaders, Hearthside Publications, 1996. Used with permission.)