We believe there are 3 Fundamental and Interrelated Pillars of a Healthy Local Church.
First: God-centeredness: which comes through clear biblical thinking and proclamation.
Second: Every believer should be in intimate relationships with at least a few other fellow believers in order to spur one another on in the faith.
Third: This delight in God (God-centeredness) should overflow in the believer's life (thus communally as well) toward making disciples of unbelievers.
Explanation: The above is based upon the theological conviction that the ultimate goal of all that exists is the glory of God, and sinful humanity glorifies God by child-like trust (i.e., faith); and the main means God uses to bring us sinners to this overwhelming delight in Christ is the ongoing ministry of the word. All of us by nature – even subsequent to new birth – are starving for a vision of the greatness of God. And it is God's goal to reveal Himself to the hearts of His people through the inspired scripture as the Holy Spirit opens our hearts to welcome what we hear or read.
The Corporate Gathering should be radically God-centered in its atmosphere. That is, the focus should be primarily vertical, not horizontal. We should seek for an intensity that is pregnant with awe and a serious joy.
This means that every element of the formal gathering (such as prayers, the welcome, announcements, the offering, music, preaching, etc.) should be expressed as a pursuit of finding our delight in God.
The Music Ministry
The expression of worship through music should be a vital aspect of the corporate gathering because in the course of our everyday lives, the pursuit of satisfaction in God does not usually arise in our hearts without being stirred-up by deliberately coming together for this purpose.
There should be a high priority on leading people to find their joy in God (vertical). Not a flippant "cheer Jesus, yea, yea," but a serious, desperate pursuit of the presence of God through the expression of our hearts' desperation for Him, His truth, His forgiveness, and His joy, which flows out of one's apprehension of biblical truth.
Thus, every attempt should be made to remove distractions and hindrances that point to the horizontal. Vertical-looking is the main goal. So songs should make much of God, not man.
Preaching/Teaching is Central
Preaching/teaching is central because seeing and delighting in God happens by means of His self-revelation, i.e., the Bible. True preaching/teaching aims to kindle strong emotions (worship) toward God, but not by manipulating people's emotions through a charismatically persuasive personality or by music … but by an appeal to clear thinking concerning the truth found in scripture. This protects us from emotionalism (yet we are emotional) and from intellectualism (yet we use our intellects).
The job of pastors/teachers is to go deep down into the text in order to carry the people up to the height of praise and worship.
Thus, the worship gathering, as a whole, and the preaching, in particular, should have an intensity equal to that which it proclaims and worships. A trite, superficial atmosphere should be avoided at all costs in order to promote a deep sense of reverence, passion and wonder.
If the Word (preached and taught) is having its intended effect upon the community, then small groups will be the outgrowth of the conviction that we need to fight the fight of faith in community.
Flowing out of the foundation of God-centeredness through the Word preached and sung (worship), believers should be in a family-type atmosphere (group) of fellow believers in order to minister to one another through their unique giftings and to foster relationships of love and accountability in order to encourage one another to fight the fight of faith and obey the command to "take care…" of Hebrews 3:12-14.
Whereas the corporate worship gathering should be more intensely vertical, small groups should take that Godwardness and turn it on each other in a more relaxed family atmosphere.
Flowing out of the first two priorities of worship (vertical) and love toward each other (horizontal), there should be the desire to overflow to neighbors, family members, the community and the world (through missions). The body of Christ is made up of different body parts or unique giftings (1 Cor. 12). These giftings (desires) for ministering to the needs of others should be encouraged and supported by the community.
You can listen to the 6-part sermon series titled, "Core Values of SGF" on the sermons page.