How Do We Define Church?
Greater Orlando Baptist Association is a family of churches that share a common doctrine and a common mission. Church planting and multiplication is the work of member churches in cooperation with each other. GOBA staff provides Networking, Equipping, Assisting, and Resourcing to help local churches to fulfill their mission. GOBA staff does not plant churches and the association does not directly sponsor churches. Church planting is the work of member churches.
While we encourage churches to work together so that there may be multiple sponsors / partners for new church plants, we recognize that there will be one primary sponsoring church for each mission church (church plant) that has the ultimate responsibility for the health, viability and relational connections for the mission church. It is the responsibility of the primary sponsor to choose and approve of the church planter / pastor of the mission church. The primary sponsor is encouraged to use their own senior pastor hiring guidelines in the selection of the church planter. The primary sponsor recognizes that the church planter is a member of the church staff until the mission church becomes autonomous.
A new church becomes a part of GOBA in mission status once the association has been informed by the primary sponsor that a new church has been started. Mission churches that are sponsored by GOBA member churches are automatically accepted into the association under watchcare. It is the responsibility of the primary sponsor to encourage the mission church to move toward autonomy, develop her own governing documents and apply for full membership in GOBA.
The association encourages its member churches to reproduce Biblical, Southern Baptist Churches in a manner appropriate to the missional context with the most effective means for evangelizing lost people, making disciples, developing leaders and multiplying churches. The association recognizes that mission churches may be birthed in a variety of sizes, settings, locations, languages and cultural groups.
Relying upon Scripture, GOBA’s bylaws and The Baptist Faith and Message, the association recognizes the following definition for the reception and acceptance of mission churches:
A church is a group of believers who meet together regularly to worship God, study the Bible, pray, fellowship with one another, partake of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper and are sent out to the lost world to share the message of salvation through Jesus Christ all under the authority of Biblically qualified leaders.
In order for a mission church to become a church in full member standing with Greater Orlando Baptist Association, the mission must apply for membership in the association according the procedures set forth in the GOBA by-laws as administered the GOBA Credentials Committee.
What do our documents say about church?
"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachingand to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:42-47 NIV)
"The Association is composed of Baptist churches that want to be more effective in fulfilling the Great Commission as described in Matthew 28:18-20, share with and benefit from a local caring fellowship of churches, develop synergistic cooperative ministries with each other and other Southern Baptist Associations, conventions, agencies and boards and that are committed to the ministry of the Association demonstrated by their participation and financial contributions."
Baptist Faith and Message
"A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.
The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation."