Ministers Fellowship International (MFI)
Every fellowship of ministers is distinct because of a common heritage, spiritual belief system or focus. Even as the Children of Israel in biblical times were all one people of God and yet had distinct tribes, so it is with the Body of Christ today. From God's perspective, there is only one Church. It includes all believers living and dead all over the world who have distinguished themselves by their separation unto the covenants of God through faith.
However, within the family of God there are smaller groupings of people and leaders that God has brought together based on a common vision and understanding of God's Eternal Purpose. This is similar to the tribes within the nation of Israel. Each tribe has its own distinct characteristic based on a common heritage and root system.
In biological terms, the human race includes everyone. However, within this race of mankind there are families of people who have a common genetic history and thus a certain biological compatibility. They share a common thread (DNA) in their biological makeup that has a great deal to do with how they will actually express themselves. Every family has a "family resemblance".
MFI has certain things in its spiritual "DNA" that make it distinct. Much of this is integrally related to the history of MFI and the belief system of those who founded the Fellowship. When someone joins MFI, they join a spiritual family with a DNA code that is vital to its ability to fulfill the express purposes of the Fellowship.
We believe that the pattern for New Testament worship is to be found in the Davidic order of worship described in the Psalms and birthed in the Tabernacle of David in the Old Testament. Within this belief is the concept that we as believers are to be spiritual priests who offer up spiritual sacrifices to God. One of the primary sacrifices is the "fruit of our lips" or our audible worship given to God (Hebrews 13:15). Davidic worship is demonstrative worship that is characterized by the biblical expressions of clapping, shouting, singing, dancing, lifting hands, bowing and kneeling.
We believe that prophecy and the ministry of the prophet are to be fully operational in the Church today. If the church is going to be filled with vision and under the full direction of Jesus, the prophetic voice must be heard. We do not accept that this and other ministries were to be confined to an "apostolic age" but they are to be fully activated until the physical return of Christ.
We believe that both personal and corporate prayer are absolutely essential if the Church is to succeed. The New Testament Church was birthed in prayer, it continued steadfast in prayer and bathed all of its activities and ministries in prayer. In fact, when the Bible labels the Church or the House of God, the label it gives it is "a house of prayer for all nations" (Isaiah 56:7). If that is the name that God has chosen for His house, prayer should be a major focus of every church. Prayer is a pipeline through which the Spirit to moves.
We believe that the local church is the aspect of the church that God is focusing on building in these days. While we all recognize and understand that the larger Body of Christ encompasses all believers, it is on the local scene that all of the plans and purposes of God are going to be demonstrated and fulfilled. Every believer must find himself or herself in right relationship to God and to a specific local church in order to find a place of ministry and fruitfulness. It is essential that rather than criticizing the Church, we do everything we can to make the Church of Jesus Christ glorious. The Church is God's instrument to extend His purposes in the earth today. It is the instrument of the Kingdom.
We believe that God has a plan and pattern for government in the local church. It is the same form of government that God has used in every institution that He has established. We refer to this as team ministry or an "eldership" form of government with a senior pastor or chief elder. This is a form of government that involves equality and headship which is modeled in the Godhead, established in the natural family, set up by God in Israel, used in the synagogue and ordained for the Church in the New Testament (Hebrews 13:17; Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). The elders are to the Church what parents are to a family. They are the spiritual parents of the local assembly and are responsible before God to raise up and equip the members of the church to be able to function in their God ordained callings.
We believe that the Church which began with great power and anointing fully functioning as God's instrument in the earth went through a period of serious spiritual and doctrinal decline through the Middle Ages. Since Martin Luther, God has been in the process of restoring the Church to her former glory and power. As we get nearer to Christ's return we can expect this process of restoration to become complete and we can expect the Church to rise up and be what God has designed for her to be (Isaiah 60:1-5). The Church is the final instrument in the hands of the Lord to extend His kingdom in the earth. Some other program or institution will not replace the Church, but the Church will finish the commission laid upon it by Jesus Himself.
We believe that at the same time God is restoring His Church, He is also restoring the natural family to its proper place and function (Jeremiah 31:1). One of the things that God is doing is turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers (Malachi 4:6). God is in the process of healing marriages, strengthening parents and teaching men and women more about their God given roles. He is doing this because He wants to use a godly seed in this generation to rise up and destroy the works of the wicked one. Such a progeny will need to be parented by those who understand God's purpose and have kingdom priorities established in their life.
We believe that the early church focused on two equally important expressions of its assembly life. There was the corporate gathering that was vital for the equipping of the saints and corporate expressions of prayer and worship. In addition, there was ministry from house to house for the sake of fellowship, relationship, nurture and evangelism (Acts 5:42). If the church today is going to be successful in its ministry to the world and to itself, both expressions must be cultivated to the fullest extent.
We believe that the extension of the Kingdom of God is the function and ministry of the Church. The Church, which is composed of both Jew and Gentile, is God's instrument in the earth to establish God's rule and His reign. The Church is the instrument; the Kingdom is the message. If the Church is going to fulfill its God given calling, it must reclaim its primary function of bringing the lost to Christ and extending the borders of God's kingdom until the glory of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.
We believe that the ministries listed in Ephesians 4:11 are to be fully functioning right up to the return of Christ. This includes Apostles and Prophets, not just Pastors, Teachers and Evangelists. All of these ministries are needed if the Body of Christ is going to be properly equipped and the Church is going to be properly built up.
We believe that the gifts of the Spirit enumerated in I Corinthians 12:7-11 are not only for today, but should be desired, sought after and evidenced in every church. If there was ever a time that these gifts were needed, it is today. We do not believe that these gifts were only for the embryonic church of the first 100 years. They are to be a part of the Church right up to the return of Christ for His perfected Bride.
We believe that every local church should be inclusive and actively seek to include all peoples of all races, ethnic origins and social and economic standings. The Church of Jesus Christ is a multi-ethnic group that has within it the seeds for demolishing the scourge of racial prejudice. God's purpose is to make all people into one for the glory of God.
We believe that the Church has been given the commission by Christ to go into the entire world with the message of the Kingdom in an attempt to bring all men to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We also believe that the result of this mission should be the establishing of local churches in every community in every country of the world.
We believe that five fold ministers are to be servant leaders that serve the other ministries of the Body of Christ by equipping and releasing them to function in their God ordained ministries.
Ministers Fellowship International has a strong conviction regarding the autonomy of the Local Church. This foundational conviction effects everything that MFI does and it serves as a guide to every policy that MFI establishes. MFI constantly seeks to balance a loving and caring responsibility that we have to all believers in Christ with a recognition of the special place that God has set everyone in their own local churches. MFI's belief can be seen in three ways.
Philosophy of MFI
Ministers Touching Ministers
MFI is not a fellowship of churches, it is a fellowship of ministers. This means that ministers of like vision and doctrine voluntarily associate themselves with other ministries for the purpose of fellowship, encouragement, vision expansion, equipping and strength.
This also means that the members of the fellowship themselves need to be aware that when they become a part of MFI, they are not only asking for resources and strength, but they are also indicating that they desire to be that for others within the fellowship.
MFI provides a structure and a context where these meaningful relationships can be cultivated, but it is up to each member along with the MFI leadership to sense a personal responsibility for one another as "our brother's keeper".
Autonomy with Accountability
One of the strong doctrinal foundations of MFI is its conviction that every local church is an autonomous organization. That means that each local church is to be self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating. It is because of this teaching that even forming such a fellowship was a sensitive task.
One the one hand, there was a desire to be a catalyst to bring pastors and church leaders together for the purpose of fellowship, relationship and strength. But on the other hand, there was an equally strong desire to not violate the structural integrity and authority of the local assembly.
Many groups have begun as a fellowship, but soon became a denomination where the central headquarters began to exert a growing measure of control on the local scene. MFI has taken strong measures to avoid this pitfall. By organizing the Fellowship in such a way that the things that give denominations control cannot become a part of the Fellowship without a vote of the MFI membership, MFI has safeguarded itself. The three things that MFI does not do are:
1. MFI does not credential ministries.
The local church is to be the place where ministries are birthed, raised up, trained, equipped, licensed and ordained. If an organization has the power to ordain someone, it also has the power to decommission them and thus control that ministry. MFI holds the view that ordination is the specific function of the local church and must be administered on that level.
2. MFI does not own local church properties.
Often local churches do not own their church properties, but their properties are held by an outside organization. This can easily become another issue of control. Even though it has been the people's money that built and established the church facility, an organization can easily impose its will on a congregation because its name is on the legal documents.
3. MFI does not control local church missions.
Again, the local church is to be the sending body for missionaries. Certainly local churches may voluntarily cooperate with each other on missionaries and missions projects, but no outside organization should demand that the mission money of a the local church be spent in a prescribed way. This again takes away authority and resources from the local church for the development of their own central missions strategy.
In addition to these three restrictions on MFI as a fellowship, there is another way to ensure that this fellowship will not become a denomination in the traditional sense.
4. MFI does not maintain a central Bible School.
While it is critical that each local church provides a way to train future leaders for the work of the Kingdom, it is not the function of a central school run by the covering organization to train, ordain and sanction all bona fide ministries. There are many ways that ministries may be trained that do not necessarily require them to leave their local churches to attend a central Bible School. Should ministries choose to be trained in a Bible School setting, it should be the choice of the person involved in conjunction with the counsel of their local church leadership.
In spite of the fact that MFI does not subscribe to organizational control, it does recognize the need that pastors have for a sense of spiritual family and identity. There is a need to belong to something greater than oneself. There is a need for committed relationships with like-minded ministries who can be a source of strength and a resource to them in time of need. There is a need for accountability to someone you can trust.
MFI is just that for many pastors and leaders. When they come into MFI, they find new friends. They find spiritual brothers and sisters, and, at the same time, they find spiritual fathers and mothers who can provide wisdom and counsel in times of need. They enter into a relationship where they can watch over one another in a loving and caring way.
Covering without Control
MFI is a covering body only in so far as it provides a context for spiritual relationship and oversight in a balanced fashion without having any official or legal control over any pastor or church.
As a fellowship of ministers, MFI provides a context for ministers to find strengthening and supportive relationships with other "peer" and "fatherly" ministries. However, these relationships are voluntary and unofficial and are not intended to replace the legal and official authority of the local church.
All ministries including the senior pastor should be under the legal authority of and accountable to their own church elder board. If a pastor has no elder board, then he should be submitted to the accountability of another "mother" church while that elder board is in the process of forming.
MFI does not seek to cover churches or their ministers in any direct or legal sense. However, the members of MFI, and the churches to which they minister, may provide this more "official oversight" for each other. In doing so they would not be acting as official representatives of MFI, but they would be acting as representatives of their own local churches.
In the event that a senior pastor member of MFI was to be disqualified from ministry it would not be the place of MFI to officially discipline him. It is the responsibility of that local church and/or its covering "mother" church to judge and administer discipline officially. However, the local church may call upon MFI leaders or members to assist in these matters. In doing so, MFI leaders would not be acting on behalf of MFI as much as they would be acting as individuals at the request of the local elder board.
In the event that a church elder board was to call MFI for help in any such matter, their participation would be in a purely advisory role to the local elder board. MFI would not be involved directly in any pastoral discipline in the church setting, that is the function of the local church itself. MFI's only official disciplinary action could be the removal of a disqualified minister from membership in MFI.
"The Interactive Bible" website below, is not affiliated with Ministers Fellowship International (MFI) but freely hosts their official creed as a courtesy after many requests to do so.
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