6.1 We believe that the Church is made up of all true Christians, from every race and every age in history. Christ is the Head of the Church, and exercises authority over it.

6.2 According to the New Testament, Christians in a particular locality are to commit themselves to meeting together as a local Church. A local Church should be marked by teaching based on the message of the Bible, leadership which helps Christians mature spiritually, self-giving love between Christians who are part of it, and obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ.

6.3 The local Church exists to make known the Christian message to all in its locality and to provide for the growth of its members through teaching, pastoral care and the exercise of the spiritual gifts which God has given them.

6.4 The Church is to meet together regularly; each member should make it a priority to be present where possible, not neglecting this without good cause. Such meetings have the building up of one another as their purpose. This happens as members learn from the Bible, celebrate the Lord’s Supper, have fellowship, and pray together. In this way they are enabled to live effective Christian lives.

6.5 The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus Christ before He died, and local Churches should continue to celebrate it regularly as part of their meeting together until He returns. As Christians take the bread and wine together, they call to mind Christ’s death which has reconciled them to God. In this way their faith and hope are strengthened and they affirm their commitment to serve one another and to serve Christ.

6.6 The Church is ultimately governed by Christ, but He does so through calling individuals to lead local Churches (the manner in which this happens and the responsibilities of leaders are dealt with in ‘Our Practice in Church Life’). Leaders do not exercise authority on their own account, but in obedience the leading of the’ Holy Spirit. This comes as they study and obey the Bible. Members of the Church are to submit to such leadership and to support their leaders’in whatever way necessary. In a local Church, leaders normally include elders (also known as pastors) and deacons.

6.7 Just as Christians within a Church are to love and accept one another, so true Christian Churches within a particular locality are to demonstrate their unity in Christ by their relationships (more is said on this in ‘Our Practice In Church Life’).

Passages for study: Local churches – John 13:34-35; Acts 2:38-47, Acts 4:32-37; 1 Corinthians 11:19-14:40; Hebrews 10:19-25; The church’s tasks – Matthew 28:16-20; The Lord’s Supper – Matthew 26:17-30; 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, 11:17-34; Church leadership – Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Timothy 3:1-13