Praetorian Project Guidelines for Member Churches

As a family of churches, we desire to continue growing and planting well into the future. We have created this document in order to accomplish this in a manner that is both efficient and pleasing to our Savior. We believe churches should remain autonomous and self-governed, so we do not intend this to be a governing document for any individual church or for the network. It is, instead, an explanation of the motives that fuel our actions. The churches that make up our network are governed by local elders who choose to cooperate with the network in order to more efficiently plant new churches. Individual churches in the network are encouraged to participate in the network to the extent that it is helpful.


We believe the sole authority for the Church is Jesus Christ and He has revealed his will through His word, the Bible. The Bible is verbally inspired, inerrant, infallible, and totally sufficient and trustworthy. Therefore, the Bible has final say concerning all doctrine and practice in our local churches. With this in mind, it will be our aim to ensure all ministries – preaching, teaching, small groups, etc. remain faithful to the centrality of the Scriptures.


In regard to preaching, this means we will remain committed to preaching the Bible expositionally. This simply means it will be our goal in preaching to expose God’s Word to God’s people and that the point of the passage being considered becomes the point of the sermon being preached. This is not to say every sermon must be preached expositionally. There are times when it will be beneficial to the health of our churches to preach on subjects or topics. However, it will be our aim to consistently preach through entire books of the Bible, chapter-by-chapter, and verse-by-verse. We believe this form of preaching communicates to our congregations that God’s Word is central to our church and vital to our faith.  


In regards to teaching (small groups), this means we will remain committed to train and equip our churches to:

  • understand and interpret the Bible
  • know what the Bible says about the nature of God and His plan of redemption.
  • know what the Bible says concerning the most important issues in life.
  • know what the Bible says concerning the manner in which we live our Christian life.


Inductive Bible studies, doctrinal studies, foundational classes, worldview and apologetic courses, Church history seminars, and Christian living education help our churches achieve these goals. With that being said, any small group study not firmly grounded in the Bible must be rejected.


In regards to doctrinal philosophy, we agree that our leaders will preach and teach from a Reformed perspective. This means that we embrace and are influenced by the theology of those who led the 16th century Protestant Reformation. Five pillars, more commonly known as “The Five Solas”, support Reformation theology. They are as follows: “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone); “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone); “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone); “Solus Christus” (Christ Alone); and “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be Glory). We also embrace, as the Reformers did, a high view of God’s sovereignty and the doctrines of election and predestination. We simply embrace these doctrines because they are biblical and for no other reason. 


Church Planting

It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ, and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ, to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. We believe that disciples are most effectively made in the context of the local church. With this in mind, church planting is of the utmost importance. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every Christian to constantly seek to see the lost converted to Christ and to gather them into local congregations for discipleship and accountability which will lead to the sanctification of the saints to prayerfully be used by God for a special use or purpose. We recognize that Jesus’ call to all Christians[1] was a call for ongoing, personal disciple making. We believe that the local church is Jesus’ appointed way for making new disciples. Therefore, the establishment and renewal of local churches is at the heart of the Great Commission. This means that a tremendous amount of our efforts and resources are invested in the raising up of pastors and church planters. As a group of churches, we willfully elevate the task of planting churches above the comforts of our local congregation. We preach and pray toward the goal of sending out fruitful members and valuable resources to plant new churches. We agree with Tim Keller when he says, “The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for the 1) numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else – not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes – will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting.”


Corporate Worship

We believe that congregational music and other forms of corporate worship serve the local church in two primary ways. First, our combined and unified voices express to the ear of our Savior our desire to live on this earth in unity with one another, in submission to His Lordship. Second, the regularity of our worship indelibly brands our minds with well-crafted concise statements about his character and worth. Those statements serve as spiritual food in times of dispersion and weakness. Therefore, it is essential that the content of our corporate worship is doctrinally meaningful and scripturally sound and saturated. The style of our worship is infinitely less significant than the content, however, we believe it is wise to sing and speak in a style that most effectively conveys the content of the worship to the heart of the worshiper. Those who lead in aspects of corporate worship serve the church; because of this, it is wise for those individuals to meet the scriptural qualifications of deacons.


Foreign Mission

Our mission locally and around the world is to make Jesus Christ known. We feel a special urgency to make Him known in places where His gospel is only sparsely known or not known. We will regularly seek to win, train and serve indigenous church planters as they seek to start new congregations. We realize that working with mission agencies and other likeminded churches in this task often expedites the work. Therefore, when we find ourselves in theological and philosophical agreement with such an organization we will cheerfully seek to forge a partnership for the sake of the gospel.


Church Government

The Church exists for the eternal glory of God and the joy of His people. The Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the church, which is composed of all genuine disciples, and in Him is invested supreme authority for its government. According to our Lord’s commandment, believers are to be baptized and gathered into local churches; and to each of these churches Christ has given authority, through His Word, concerning matters of doctrine, discipline, dispute, and practical direction to fulfill His commission to make disciples.[2]


Two offices exist in the Christian church: Elder and Deacon. The term Elder is used synonymously with the terms Bishop, Overseer, and Pastor in the New Testament. The Elders are made up of members recognized by the congregation. Since the office of an Elder is a Biblical one, certain qualifications of spiritual maturity must be met (1Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4). The Bible teaches that only men should hold this office. Therefore it is our position that only male elders are considered for this position. These men will lead the church and be its primary teachers and shepherds. The role of the deacon in the New Testament is a role of service. Deacons assist the Elders by providing practical help with the work of the ministry in order to assure that the ministry of the Word and prayer remain the foremost objective of the church.


Some are persuaded that 1 Timothy 3:11 presents the qualifications for Deacons’ wives. Others are persuaded this verse presents the qualifications for women deacons (deaconess). Both positions are legitimately possible understandings of the text at hand. So, for the sake of unity within the network, we recognize this issue as an open-handed matter of doctrine, and do encourage local churches within our network to order the structure of their congregations according to their understanding of Scripture, and to teach that other churches within our network may have different, but legitimate, interpretations and applications.


The biblical references that address the qualifications of deacon and elder nominees are listed in: 1 Timothy 3:2,12; Titus 1:6. We believe these passages deal primarily with character and sexual purity and not the issue of divorce and remarriage. These passages state that deacon and elder nominees must be a “one-woman man.” In other words, he must be faithful and devoted to his one and only wife, both inwardly and outwardly (Matthew 5:27). The Bible does not directly address the issue of divorce and remarriage for deacon and elder nominees. Therefore, we will not add a qualification or restriction the Bible does not address. However, the Bible does speak to the issue of divorce and remarriage for God’s people. The elders of each church are encouraged to reflect on these passages, as it relates to the character of the person being considered for deacon or elder. Each church will be responsible for examining nominees, assessing their biblical qualification and determining their call to service and leadership.



Gender Roles in the Church

We believe that men and women are equal in personhood and dignity, but are distinct concerning their roles in the home and church. This position, known as complementarianism, is to be distinguished from both ancient patriarchy which neglects the equality of the sexes and egalitarianism which neglects the clear Scriptural role distinctions.


Scripture affirms the equality of men and women in regards to worth, nature, and substance. This means that man and woman are essentially, naturally and substantially equal before God and each other. Any interpretation of the biblical text must be free from misogyny or unwarranted and naïve assumptions of male dominance or superiority. This is made clear in such passages as:

  • God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  Genesis 1:27
  • There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:28
  • As a fellow heir of the grace of life…  1 Peter 3:7
  • It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.  Joel 2:28

We believe marriage is the God ordained covenant relationship between one man and one woman, and exists for God’s glory, for mankind’s good, and for the beautiful display of the gospel of Jesus, and his relationship with the church. It is clear from Scripture that men and women are created equal. It is equally clear that men and women have distinct roles in the home and church. It is our belief that confusion of these roles will result not only in a sinful application of the Biblical text, but, consequently, diminished joy in our pursuit of Christ.  The distinction within the home revolves around the idea of the headship of a man over his wife. This headship is not to be exercised as dominating and oppressive authority but is to be exercised in the spirit of servant leadership exhibited by Jesus Christ. Such a pattern is seen in the following passages:


  • Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her. Ephesians 5:22-25
  • Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ […] For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.  1 Corinthians 11:2-3, 8-9
  • Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.  Colossians 3:18-19
  • Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.  Titus 2:3-5

The husband is called to serve and sacrifice for his wife as an expression of his love for her. At the same time, the wife is called to submit to and respect her husband as an expression of her love for him. In this way they complement each other.

Likewise, man and woman have some level of distinction within the context of the church. The texts upon which these distinctions are based include:

  • The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.  1 Corinthians 14:34-35
  • Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.  1 Timothy 2:9-14

As we understand the issue, there are certain contexts in which women are not allowed to teach (1 Timothy 2:12). This prohibition cannot be universal however as Paul specifically calls for older women to teach younger (Titus 2:3-4). Indeed, we even have an example of a woman teaching a man in the story of Priscilla and Apollos (Acts 18:26).

In addition to the above, we also recognize that women are not to be put into the positions of authority within the local church. Because of this, we restrict eldership to men who meet the Biblical qualifications and are affirmed by our congregations (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1).

Dress for Services

We don’t find any compelling evidence in scripture that any particular attire is more appropriate than another in the corporate worship of a New Testament church. Because of this, we believe attire for worship is a matter of Christian liberty. It is important to note that the corporate worship gathering is designed to point attention to our Savior and not ourselves. Any attire that would distract attendees from focusing full attention on Christ is discouraged. 



There are two ordinances for the New Testament church. The first, baptism, is the immersion of a believer in water. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior; the believer’s death to sin; burial of the old life, and resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. Second, the Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby followers memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.


We celebrate public baptism by immersion any time an individual in our midst who has confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and repented of their sins desires to be baptized. As for Lord’s Supper, there are three primary reasons we encourage the celebration of the Lord’s Supper every week in our churches.


  • We believe this was the practice of the early Christian church and seek to model our ministry after them (Acts 2:42-47; Acts 20:7).
  • We wish to make the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ the centerpiece of each Sunday morning gathering.
  • We believe that the weekly observation of the Lord’s Supper helps lead us to continual repentance both corporately and individually (Matthew 5:23-24; 1 Cor. 11:27-32).


Corporate Stewardship

We believe the resources of our churches are the property of our gracious Savior and are given to us to steward. Because of this, they should be used for the purposes of building His church and spreading His Gospel. In order for a church to give full attention to the ministry of the Word we believe that, when possible churches should to provide a fair salary for her pastor(s). Since our churches are dedicated to planting other new churches we should continually designate a hearty percentage of the Church’s annual income, ideally 25% or more, to local and global church planting causes. Operating expenses should be kept to a minimum in order to focus as much of our monetary attention as possible on the mission of God. 



We believe that it is Biblical for individual Christians to submit themselves to the affirmation and oversight of a local church. God’s Word teaches that churches are to be made up of born again Christians who assemble weekly to celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the dead, to help one another grow in Christlikeness, and to war against worldliness and sin. Christians are to submit themselves to one another out of reverence for Christ and to maintain a credible profession of faith before the elders and members of their local church.  


It is clear that God’s plan for his church is that Christians belong to a local covenant community of faith.  By doing this they are subjecting themselves to be obedient to their leaders and submitting to their authority. (Heb. 13:17) According to the Bible, the church is like a family (1 Tim. 3:15), a body (1 Cor. 12), and a bride (Eph. 5:22-23).  If the church is a family, a Christian without a church is a spiritual orphan.  If the church is a body, a Christian without a church is like a hand without an arm.  If the church is a bride, a Christian without a church cannot be complete.

In our churches, membership is not something that is taken lightly.  We seek to have meaningful membership so that we can help those who formally identify themselves as “the church” in their walk with Christ.  Therefore, it is imperative that the potential members be affirmed that they are in the faith, have repented of sins, are continuing to live repentantly, and have been baptized. After being affirmed by the Elders of the church, each member of Pillar Church is asked to commit to give of their time, talents, and treasures.  They are also asked to come under the teaching of the leaders in the church and to use their tongue as an instrument for building up and not destruction. 


It seems today our society views commitment as a thing to be feared. But we, as followers of Jesus, are part of a new society. Just as in a love relationship, courtship is fine; we all recognize that marriage is better. Formal membership is the way that a member says to the church, “I want to be a part of this church – I believe her doctrine, I love her people, I want to serve in her ministries and I want to have a say in her direction.” Likewise, the church says to its members, “We want you to be a part of this group. We love you. We are going to help you walk closely with Jesus.” It’s a mutual commitment. It’s good for you – it’s good for the church.

Perhaps the most important reason to join a church is that the church provides a measure of spiritual safety and accountability for the Christian. If you haven’t noticed yet, humans sin a lot. Our hearts are prone to wander from God. The righteousness of Christ in us is continually at war with our selfish nature. The Christians who make up a church help spur each other on to righteous living. “If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecc 4:10)

The Elders of every church have been assigned the task, “Shepherd the Flock of God” among you, but how can they do this if they don’t know who is a part of the “Flock of God”? They are also told to discipline those who are blatantly rebellious toward God. We, the church, are told to “Expel the wicked man” (1 Cor. 5:13) and to make the church aware of unrepentant participants (Matthew 18:17). We believe we can accomplish this more effectively through formal membership.

[1] Matthew 28:18-20

[2] (Matt. 16:13-­20; 18:15-­20; John 10:16; Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; 6.1-8; Gal. 5:1; Eph. 1:22; 2:19-­22; 3:21; 5:23; 1 Tim. 3:1-­15; 5:17‐18; Tit. 1:5­‐9; Heb. 10:25; 2 John2).