We have the highest regard for God’s inspired word. We stress the importance of opening the Bible and applying the truths that will transform our lives.
We encourage all generations to come alongside and equip families to grow in faith and maturity in Christ.
We go beyond surface-level interactions to devoted relationships by treating everyone as Jesus Christ did, with respect, dignity and love.
We intentionally commit our hearts, resources and time as we interact with people in our church, homes, neighborhoods, communities and world resulting in everyone we come in contact with, knowing more about Jesus Christ.
We value excellence in all things as in all things we recognize that we are working for Jesus Christ (Col 3:23-24). Therefore, in every connection, communication, environment and ministry we will strive to do everything within our ability to excel and glorify Jesus Christ.
To Pursue and Equip Families to Passionately Follow Christ Together
Statement of Faith
The Statement of Faith of this organization shall be the same as that of the Evangelical Free Church of America, which reads as follows:
We want families to Gather together, Grow in a life changing relationship with Jesus and Engage in ministry.
The following statements on spiritual gifts come from the book “Evangelical Convictions: A Theological Exposition on the Statements of Faith of The Evangelical Free Church of America.
We affirm in unity as a body of believers that:
- Both the gift of the Holy Spirit and his gifts are presented in the New Testament as signs of Christ’s victory (John 7:39; Acts 2:32-33; Eph. 4:8-10)
- The purpose of these gifts is the edification of the church (1 Cor. 12:7; 14:26; Eph. 4:12).
- The Spirit equips every believer (1 Cor. 12:11; 1 Pet. 4:10; Eph. 4:7) so that in some way he or she may serve in the body of Christ.
- The gifts of the Holy Spirit are distributed to each as God chooses (Heb. 2:4; Rom. 12:6), yet each gift is important and useful, just as the various parts of a body work together as a whole (1 Cor. 12:12-27).
- Our Statement of Faith does not take a position on whether such gifts are still operative in the church today in order that we may learn to serve each other in our differences.
We deny in unity as a body of believers that:
- Any spiritual gift serves as a sign either of the fullness of the Spirit or of the spiritual maturity of the believer.
This policy is designed to guide us in how we live in fellowship as a church family knowing we come from various faith backgrounds and beliefs in regards to spiritual gifts, especially centered around what some call the “sign gifts” or “miraculous gifts”(healing, tongues, prophecy). We affirm that the use of any spiritual gift God has given us should be centered around Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves” and Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 14:12 that call say “since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church”.
Specific Policy Application
In light of this, when we gather as a church family we ask that no one exercise their gift just as they desire to, but consider our diverse church family more important than any one individual. One way we can do this is to follow the teaching of 1 Corinthians 14 and not use a gift of “tongues” out loud in a worship service or other large church gatherings but instead pray silently “between yourself and God”(1 Cor 14:28), following Paul’s example in 1 Corinthian 14:19: “Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue”. Therefore, if you feel you have a tongue or a word to share that might be for Bethany Church in a large gathering we ask that you find or contact a pastor or elder and allow them to hear your word and discern next steps for the best way to build up the body of believers.
In addition to the EFCA Statement of Faith:
1. We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary sexes together reflect the image and nature of God (Gen. 1:26-27). Rejection of one’s biological sex/gender is a rejection of the image of God within that person.
2. We understand that in rare instances, due to the presence and reality of sin in the world, there is not always a clear at birth medical answer to this policy in regards to birth gender. In those cases we will walk a path of healing, restoration, and spiritual accountability in love and patience, understanding that we also do not have all the answers to these rare instances. It is our desire to lead any individual to find their true identity in Christ as to experience all the hope and blessings that come in being created in God’s image.
3. We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity(Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31). Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual have no place in the life of any believer or the body of Christ as a whole and are not in accord with the standard given through God’s Word.
Beliefs and Policy on Sexuality and Marriage
In addition to the EFCA Statement of Faith:
1. We believe the term “marriage” has only one meaning: the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture (Gen.1: 27-28 2:18-25). We believe that marriage between one man and one woman, for life, uniquely reflects Christ’s relationship with His Church (Eph. 5:21-33). We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other (1 Cor. 6:18; 7:2-5; Heb. 13:4).
2. We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. This includes both physical sexual contact as well as other mediums of sexual activity such as pornography, sexting, reading, and fantasy/lust (Mat 5:28, 1 Cor 6:18, 2 Tim 2:22)
3. We believe that any form of sexual immorality (including cohabitation, adultery, fornication,
homosexual behavior, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, or use of pornography) is sinful by God’s created standard and design. (Matt. 15:18-20; 1 Cor. 6:9-10).
4. We believe that God offers redemption and restoration to all who repent of any sin through confessing and forsaking their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ (Acts 3:19-21; Rom 10:9-10; 1 Cor 6:9-11).
5. We believe that we must respond to those that oppose God’s Biblical established plan for marriage and sexuality in a manner that is both loving and uncompromising, with the hope that some may be brought to a saving, reconciled relationship with their Creator God through Jesus Christ. (Luke 5:30-32, Rom 5:8, Hos 3, 1 Cor 5)
6. Due to these Biblical positions previously stated and referenced, Bethany church is unable to perform, participate, or support in any way any weddings or any other use of church facilities that do not submit to the standards presented in this document on Sexuality and Marriage.
Policy Practices on Sexuality and Gender:
Welcoming and Loving People:
We welcome anyone who is not yet a Christian, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity, to attend church services with us. You are welcome here! If for any reason you are not received with kindness and dignity, please contact any elder or pastor. We believe every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect because each of us bears the image of God. Men and women who experience same-sex attractions (SSA) or are struggling with gender identity deserve this dignity and respect no less than anyone else. We, as Christians, should demonstrate this in our thoughts, speech, and behavior. Words and humor that demean SSA/LGBTQ men and women have no place in our church or the Christian community. Such demeaning words are a sin, and church members are expected to speak out and address this sin whenever it occurs.
Use of Bathrooms:
Due to Bethany Church’s previously stated sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage, sexuality, and gender, while using Bethany Church’s facilities, we ask that everyone use either: a) the bathroom corresponding to their birth sex or b) a single-person bathroom (if available). Under no circumstances should a person use one of Bethany’s multi-person bathrooms that does not correspond to their birth gender/sex. We understand that due to the complicated nature of this topic some situations might need to be addressed through a case-by-case basis by the Elder Board and Pastors to find the best solution for both the individual and the rest of the Bethany Church Family.
The Heart of Ministry Through These Beliefs and Policies:
We are committed to making our church a safe place for transgender and gender non-conforming men and women to hear and experience the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.
We do not believe a person needs to fully resolve their gender confusion in order to become a Christian. Their struggle may continue throughout their life, even as they grow in their faith. However, we do believe it is sinful to approve of transgenderism (the pursuit of being a different gender than your God-given biological sex), as it is inconsistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption. We believe that the grace of God in Christ enables a person to forsake transgender self-conceptions and to accept the God-ordained link between one’s biological sex and one’s self-conception as male or female.
Practically we understand the need to create specific guidelines when it comes to how to experience the Christian life in specific ministries that are based on gender. People should generally attend a group that corresponds to their birth sex. We desire to be a place of spiritual safety to seek Biblical truth, regardless of what people’s struggles and temptations may be. Therefore, Bethany Church provides many co-ed based ministries in order to reach both genders and create a safe place for genders to come together for spiritual growth.
Self-identifying Christians are expected to be honest about the sex that God has made them; we desire for people to grow in Christ and to not intentionally facilitate sin. If someone trusts in Christ and has not been living consistently with their God-given sex, they are asked to join the group/ministry for their birth sex as a part of their spiritual growth process. We understand this is a process and will work with each individual for how to make that transition in a healthy way. This might be waiting for the next semester, a restart of a ministry, or other natural changes in ministry seasons. However, this process should be done under the guidance of both the pastors/elders and the ministry/group leader. This is to help anyone working through this transition to be encouraged to identify with their God-given birth sex in all areas of life. That does not mean they must fit every social stereotype of a particular sex/gender, but they should identify with their God-given sex and not deliberately imitate the opposite sex.
In situations involving sleeping, changing, showering environments; such as retreats, lock-ins, mission trips, etc. that may involve any degree of shared sleeping, changing, or showering space, individuals may not share those facilities with students of the opposite birth sex. Any accommodation that can be made to provide a single-use/room for such activities will be provided as a way in which we can continue to love and minister to anyone walking through this particular sex/gender identity healing process.
Bethany Church values the worth and dignity of all persons without distinction as created in God’s image.1 We affirm the priesthood of all believers2 and the responsibility of every Christian woman and man to take an active role in edifying the church.3 For that purpose, the Holy Spirit distributes ministry gifts to believers without distinction of any kind.4 That reality imposes the responsibility on every believer to fulfill ministry consistent with God’s grace.
Bethany Church distinguishes between ministry function and church office. While upholding the necessity of mutual respect and affirmation as those subject to the Word of God, 5 Bethany church understands that the biblical office of Elder/Pastor/Overseer according to Biblical guidelines was gender-specific.6 Therefore, we maintain that the church offices of Elder, Pastor, Overseer, and Associate Pastor should be limited to the male gender.
- Genesis 1:26-27
- I Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:6
- Romans 12:4-8; I Corinthians 14:12; Ephesians 4:11-13
- Ephesians 4:7-13; I Corinthians 12; I Peter 4:10-11
- Ephesians 5:17-21
- I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9
Bethany Church Beliefs and Practice on Gender Roles In Christian Living, Church Leadership, and Teaching
The Bible teaches that God created two complementary sexes of humans, male and female, to bear His image together (Gen. 1:27-28; Matt. 19:4; Mark 10:6). This distinction in gender represents an essential characteristic of personhood and reflects an essential part of being created in God’s image. As outlined in Scripture and in accordance with our Statement of Faith, we believe that men and women are absolutely equal in essence, dignity, and value and are complementary by divine design in their roles. Gender does not merely represent a social construct but, instead, represents a reality present in every human from birth. Men and women are not interchangeable.
From the opening pages of Scripture, we find that God, in His wisdom and providence, created two complementary sexes for our good and His glory. In light of His good created order, and the fact that women and men both share in divine image-bearing, God intends for women and men to have different yet complementary roles and responsibilities in the church and home. These role distinctions do not arise from cultural definitions of masculinity and femininity but are an integral part of God’s plan for humanity, as revealed in Scripture. The Bible depicts a vision of men and women laboring alongside one another in the world and the Church for the sake of the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 12:4-31). God has made no distinction in the giving of spiritual gifts to individuals based on gender (1 Cor. 12:7-11). When we don’t empower individuals of both sexes to engage and use their gifts, in complementarian partnership, both genders suffer, and the mission of the Church—to proclaim the gospel and make disciples of all nations—suffers.
In light of the belief that male and female image bearers flourish in partnership, we expect that the primary relationship between Christian men and women is that of brotherly and sisterly love. We note that the Bible upholds the metaphor of siblinghood as the primary descriptor for male-female partnering in the Church. The concept that is taught in the New Testament is that the Church ought to have the kind of love for one another that is reserved for blood brothers and sisters. This uniquely Christian disposition reminds us that we ought to see each other as a family in a special sense. Therefore, the primary relationship in the local church between men and women is the relationship of brothers and sisters, united in Christ, not subordinates. We affirm that cultivating an environment of brotherly and sisterly love is at the heart of complementarianism. These relationships should be marked by honor, care, and sacrifice for one another.
What We Believe
We believe that both men and women have been created in the image of God and are entitled to the privileges and held accountable to the responsibilities that come with reflecting our Creator.
We deny that either gender has been given or is entitled to greater dignity in society, the home, the church or the kingdom of God.
We believe that both men and women are needed and necessary for the health and ministry of the church. Godly women and men should be visible partners in the corporate life of the church, deploying their diverse gifts for the good of the body. Simply put, all Christians contribute to the ministry of the church.
We deny that the church can flourish without brotherly/sisterly partnership. We deny that a church can exist in which the men flourish and the women do not, or vice versa.
We affirm that all members of the church should be in glad submission to the office of Elder leadership (See “Policy on Gender Roles in Biblically Defined Church Offices”), and that all should be in glad and sacrificial submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church.
We deny that all women are subject to the leadership and authority of all men. Further, biblical submission is not indicative of subordination or inequality, as seen in Jesus, the Son’s, submission to the Father (Phil. 2:1-11).
We affirm that all men and women have been created in the image of God, whether single or married.
We deny that single men and women must be married to be meaningful participants in the corporate life of the church. We deny that single men possess any authority over single women. The way that they love and serve their sisters should not patronize, victimize or show force, but rather should be the fruit of brotherly love, and vice versa.
Practice and Application
At Bethany Church, we highly value the perspective and wisdom found in both genders, men and women, as God has gifted both for the work of ministry and the edification of His body. In light of that, we have both men and women in various levels of influential leadership throughout our church in various ministries. Our Elder Board and Pastoral team are made up of men only in accordance with our “Policy on Gender Roles in Biblically Defined Church Offices”. Our “Staff Ministry Leadership Team” is comprised of both women and men to bring Godly wisdom and influence to help us execute with excellence the ministry God has called us to here at Bethany. We desire the leadership, wisdom, and influence of both genders in the exercising of their gifts in ministry in order to see the Church mature fully in its calling as the complete body of Christ.
Sunday Morning Worship Services
Although we have both women and men helping lead and teach in various ministries throughout the church, we reserve the place of teaching in our main worship services, as our highest place of authoritative teaching, for those called to the Office of Pastor or Elder. We will, on rare occasions, have guest teachers from either gender outside of the office of Pastor or Elder teach on a Sunday morning under the authority of the church Elders. Anyone asked to teach would be pre-approved by the Elders with the desire to help teach and edify the church, with excellence, according to a Biblical worldview and in line with the desired Pastoral and Elder teaching plans.
Practicing The Ordinance of Baptism and Communion
Every member at Bethany Church is invited to baptize during approved baptisms at Bethany and distribute the elements of communion either in our worship services or other ministries/Group environments.
Teaching and Leading In Bethany Ministries
Both mixed-gender and single-gender teaching environments are overseen by a qualified Pastor or Elder. It is the role of this Pastor/Elder to seek out, equip, and utilize gifted women and men for leadership oversight, shaping of the specific ministries, and teaching excellence within each of these ministry environments. Teaching environments that include both genders can be taught by either gender under the authority and oversight of the Pastor/Elder overseeing each ministry. Gender-specific teaching environments are taught by leaders of the same gender (see “Position and Policy on Sexuality”), although there are circumstances where a guest teacher of the opposite gender might be utilized to bring a perspective that would enhance the desired goals of the ministry/teaching environment.
Adults Groups/Bible Studies/Classrooms
Gender specific groups are led by leaders of the same gender (see “Position and Policy on Sexuality”). Men lead men’s groups and women lead women’s groups. Mixed-gender groups can be led by both/either a man or woman. In mixed-gender groups, it is preferred when available, to have two leaders, one from each gender. In mixed-gender group leadership, we expect there to be a co-discipleship and co-leadership relationship between the man and woman. It is our desire for both leaders to work in unity together in their roles according to their gifting, helping lift the other up as leaders of their group for the “edification of the body”. Both men and women may serve as group leaders, group coaches, and study leaders.
What We Believe
At Bethany Church, we believe that human beings are created by God in His image (Genesis 1:16-28). We affirm that every person from the womb to the end of their earthly life has been given by God inherent dignity, value, and immeasurable worth (Matthew 6:26, 10:30-31). Therefore, we believe that we are called to honor and help protect all human life (John 15:13, Micah 6:8, Proverbs 24:11-12) including preborn babies, children of all ages, adults in all stages of life, those with special needs, and others marginalized by society (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:14-15). We want to be a church that lovingly advocates for Biblical mercy and justice, especially for those who cannot speak for themselves (Mark 12:31, Proverbs 31:8–9; Matthew 25:45, Isaiah 1:7).
What God Has Called Us To Do
We seek to accomplish this through our Engage strategy, specifically our Mercy Justice MInistry. This ministry helps us at Bethany to seek God, both individually and as a church family, to glorify God by practically living out what we believe by reaching out to the “marginalized and most vulnerable” people in our community. We believe that God has specifically called Bethany to accomplish this by supporting Foster Families and Children of La Crosse County. We also seek to help women in our community through our partnership with Adult Teen Challenge. We are continually seeking God for opportunities to offer love, compassion, and support, meeting the spiritual and practical needs of women, men, and children in any way we can in times of crisis and vulnerability.
“In our celebration of The Lord’s Supper, our communion with Christ in whatever manner is by God’s grace and spiritual benefit can only come as we subjectively appropriate the meaning of this meal (that is, the gospel) through faith” (“Evangelical Convictions p 180). The Lord’s Supper shall be practiced regularly. It shall be open to all believers who profess saving faith in Jesus Christ and who are walking in fellowship with Him. This shall be practiced in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 11:23-30 and in line with the teachings of the Evangelical Free Church of America (“Evangelical Convictions” pp 176-181).
We deny that baptism in water is the instrumental cause of regeneration and that the grace of God is effectually conveyed through the administration of the ordinance itself. We affirm that one must come to personal faith in Christ to benefit from his saving work” (“Evangelical Convictions” p 175). We believe that baptism “is the biblically prescribed public action that corresponds to a personal response of faith to the gospel” (“Evangelical Convictions” p 171). Although baptism by immersion is not a requirement for membership in this church, nor salvation, believers’ baptism as an action following a personal commitment of faith in Christ by immersion shall be the mode practiced by this congregation. Exceptions may be considered by the Elder Board where extreme physical disability is apparent.