Grand Avenue Baptist started as a small mission church in December 1959, with Jim Phillips serving as pastor. In July of 1960, this work was formally established as a mission, and a full program of church training and service began.
In September 1960, with the help of the Missouri Baptist Building Fund, a 2.5 acre plot of ground was purchased at the corner of 24th and Grand Avenue. The first anniversary of this congregation was celebrated on January 15, 1961. At that time there was a Sunday School attendance of 77.
On February 23, 1964, the “mission” congregation was constituted as a church (with 148 charter members).
We are a family in service together for the gospel of Jesus Christ so that the glory of God may be displayed in all things for the joy of all peoples.
Grand Avenue Baptist Church exists to glorify God as a gospel-centered church in Ames, Iowa.
Core Values are the main beliefs that are at the heart of who we are and what we do. These core values, along with the doctrinal beliefs outlined in our Statement of Faith, represent what we believe about God, ourselves and our church. They represent how we will interact with each other to accomplish our mission and vision.
We are committed to teaching the Bible for what the Bible is – Truth.
What is the Bible?
The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament were given by God, and are the only sufficient, certain and authoritative rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience (Hebrews 12-13). Therefore, we value a growing love for the Word of God, as well as a deepening understanding of it in our lives so that we may know Him and make Him known (Matt. 6:33).
What do we learn from the Bible?
- We believe the Bible teaches us about who we are and how we should live. It teaches us how we are to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We learn from Scripture how we are to grow as followers of Christ.
- The Scriptures impart to us conviction of sin, discernment and wisdom for decisions and hope in trials and suffering. The Bible is useful for teaching, rebuking and correcting. It is truth without any mixture of error.
- We also learn that Jesus is the only One who has ever followed God perfectly and, therefore, we look to His perfect life lived as our substitute. His perfect life lived applied to our account, and the giving of the Holy Spirit in our hearts is the only hope we have for living a life that is pleasing to God. Jesus is our righteousness that we receive by faith in Him alone.
GABC is committed to a stead diet of expository preaching. We believe that since God’s word is holy, divine and inspired by the Holy Spirit of God that consistently preaching through the word of God does the most good for the people of God. Expository preaching is best understood in that the point of the sermon text is the point of the sermon. It is not that topical sermons are bad but we believe the sermon is strongest when the point of the sermon comes from point of the Scripture text.
GABC holds to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as a faithful summary of what we believe are non-negotiable truths in the Bible.
We believe that every born again believer is a disciple of Jesus Christ should be growing in the sanctifying grace of God.
We call this process of spiritual growth—discipleship or sanctification.
It is a growing relationship with Jesus through our faith in Him and the grace He gives through His Holy Spirit, the church, prayer and other means of grace, He changes our lives little by little into His image.1 These small changes impact not only our individual lives but also the lives of those in the church.
A Culture of Discipleship
We desire that our church culture be rich with gospel-centered discussions. We want to strive for a church body that intentionally seeks to disciple others and is concerned for others spiritual growth.
The Bible teaches us that spiritual disciplines should be a part of our Christian lives. We like to call these spiritual disciplines habits of grace by which we may grow in our personal relationship with God through Bible study, prayer, service, worship and witnessing. These are just a few of the habits of grace that disciples of Christ practice in a gospel-centered life.
In addition to personal spiritual growth we believe that one-to-one discipleship is a necessary and essential means by which a Christian may grow spiritually.
A Community of Discipleship
Discipleship occurs not only in one-to-one situations but also in community. We believe that Foundations classes, small groups, groups, family ministry (i.e. men’s and women’s ministry, children, preschool, youth and college students) are all community groups in which a Christian may grow spiritually.
We want all people to be disciple-making disciples of Christ. We want to equip them to abandon their lives to the glory, honor and service of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1Our Vision, Mission and Core Values are not meant to be a full doctrinal explanation of the process of sanctification that the Holy Spirit uses in our lives as Christians. For a fuller explanation of our doctrine of sanctification, the word of God, the church and the Holy Spirit, please see the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. However, please keep in mind, even the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is not a complete explanation of our doctrine but only a summary statement.
We value putting Christ and His cross at the center of all we do.
We must worship God will all our lives (1 Cor. 10:31) and life is most satisfying when it is lived as a display of God’s glory in Christ. This can only be done when a disciple lives with the gospel as the center of his or her life. The fuel of worship is the word of God in flamed by the Holy Sprit of God.
A life of worship is expressed in personal worship, family worship and corporate worship
Personal worship is valuing Christ more than all the world has to offer which means He is our life. We value authentic personal worship that honors Jesus and helps us to cherish Him more and more highly. Habits of grace that consist of praying, Bible intake, serving, giving of our time, talent and treasure, witnessing, Scripture memory and meditation, journaling that flow out of the work of the gospel of Jesus Christ all enrich our personal worship.
Family worship is that time the family sets aside to worship God together on a regular basis. It is a time where the Bible is read, prayers are prayed and perhaps songs are sung. It is a time where the family is discipled to exalt Christ in all of life.
Corporate worship is when the saints gather on Sunday mornings to worship God together. Within this venue, we worship God by remembering the gospel through preaching, teaching, singing, praying, generous giving (2 Cor. 8:1-9:15) and celebrating the ordinances of baptism and communion. Each aspect of corporate worship presents an opportunity for the church, through the Word of God and the Spirit of God to receive, remember, respond and rejoice in the redemptive work of our great Savior and King, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 10:31, Psalm 145:1-21, Isaiah 43:6-7, Colossians 3:1-17).
A gospel-centered life is a life lived in a gospel-centered community.
We worship a triune God, Who has eternally existed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In identifying the tri-unity of God, we recognize that God is communal. The Godhead has perpetually dwelt in perfect harmony, unity, joy, love and bliss. Bearing the image of God, mankind is called to reflect this reality. In other words, we are called to be a community reflecting the Trinitarian nature of our God.
Public Not Private
Though each Christian has a personal relationship with God, that relationship is not individual or private. The Christian faith is not intended to be lived in isolation. We are made for community. We need a relationship with God and with one another in a local church.
Mutual accountability is a critical component of the Christian life. The local church is not a place that we attend but a people to whom we belong. The Bible calls us members of the body with the expectation that we contribute to the body for the glory of God and the good of His people (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).
What is a gospel-centered community?
A gospel-centered community is a radical call amid a culture of casual church attendance, a consumerism mentality and a “what-is-in-it-for-me” approach to church. The church is a gospel-centered community of baptized believers that are committed to one another through the means of mutual love, care, consistency and authenticity. Where these elements are lacking, we have moved away from gospel-centered community and into the realm of a mere social club. We hope our gospel-centered community would result in gospel-centered connections, gospel-growth and gospel-centered service.
The church is the covenant people of God. Covenant Membership is our process whereby people learn what it means to connect with a church that practices covenant church life together. Therefore, we strive to have only regenerate church members. Our goal is for our Covenant Members to be able to articulate the gospel clearly, to have a life that bears the fruit of repentance, displays a love for God and neighbor, has a hunger for the word of God and strives for humble accountability.
We desire our people who have covenanted with Christ to covenant publicly to do life together as a local church family. Covenant Membership is a corporate affirmation by those in covenant with God to covenant with one another to do covenant life together as we travel through this world to our heavenly home. We practice church discipline through the regular teaching of God’s word, exhortations among our membership and shepherding by the elders.
Diversity in the Local Church
We value diversity in our church body. We hope and pray God builds us into a church that is not only inter-generationally and demographically diverse but also ethnically, culturally, and socio-economically diverse. We know that heaven will be filled with people of all tribes and tongues. Therefore, we hope to be a church body that is reflective of what heaven will be like.
How gospel-centered community is expressed
We hope our gospel-centered community is expressed through our small groups, one-to-one discipleship and a host of other connections within the local body of Christ. Believers are not perfect and our relationships will be messy at times. However, our hope is that the members will be radically committed to one another. This takes time, prayer, effort, patience, love for one another and trust Christ (Acts 2:42-47, Hebrews 3:12-13, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31). It takes the gospel of Jesus Christ to transform a community.
We believe a church should be where families can connect with one another in order to center their families on the gospel of Jesus Christ.1
We are committed to building gospel-centered marriages and families. We desire to be a church that:
- Encourages and trains families to regularly read, pray, teach and sing God’s Word.
- Trains parents to instruct2 their children and youth in sound doctrine so that they are not blown about by every wind of doctrine and tossed about by the wave of our secular culture. We want our children grounded in the “grammar” of their faith.
- Encourages and exhorts husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and encourages wives to respect their husbands as the head of the household.
- Turns the hearts of the parents to their children and turns the hearts of the children to their parents.
- Encourages singles to pursue marriage or empowers them to be content where God has called them in their singleness by connecting them to the larger family of God.
- Trains college students to pursue God’s calling on their lives by connecting them to the larger body of the local church. We want them to have a church family to support them during their collegiate days.
We are committed to help families that have struggled to turn to Christ so that they can experience the healing of the gospel and find freedom from their former bondage to sin.
We also want to help families that struggle with pain and loss. Perhaps it is through the death of a spouse, child or loved one, infertility or miscarriage, the pain of marriage struggles and divorce or some other struggle that causes the family to suffer.
1For a comprehensive explanation of our position on families please see our doctrinal statement, Baptist Faith and Message 2000 article XVIII.
2We encourage parents to use a solid biblical catechism for further instruction of their children. A good catechism is good for the whole family. Here is a good one that is on line: New City Catechism.
We desire to follow our Lord’s example by living a servant lifestyle in light of the gospel.Mark 10:43-45
Just like Jesus washed his disciples’ feet we want to wash each other’s feet (Jn. 13:1-20). That is, we are to serve one another in the church. Our service extends to those in our community as well. Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve, so likewise we believe we should humble ourselves and serve others too. Jesus was not only our substitute who served us by dying on the cross but He was also our example in His life as He served others for the glory of God.
Why should a disciple serve others?
Gospel-centered service is motivated by God’s reconciling us to Himself through the death and resurrection of Christ, and seeks to reflect His grace and mercy to others for His glory and not our own. It is an expression of love and stewardship of grace marked by humility, generosity and hospitality and empowered by a passion for the glory of God.
How can disciples serve others?
Service can and should be pursued in various ways by all followers of Christ. Those who have been impacted by the gospel have countless opportunities – both formal and informal – to serve others. Some might serve in individual situations or others might through their small groups or others my find opportunities to serve through a church-wide ministry. In other words, there are opportunities to serve inside the church and outside the church.
Serving Inside the Church
Inside the church we serve by greeting at services, volunteering in one of our ministries, teaching, corporate singing, giving, opening our homes to our neighbors, etc.
Serving Outside the Church is Great Commission Living
We call serving those outside the church Great Commission living. The Great Commission is a witness to the lost people of our community. We might serve by assisting with local gospel preaching and mission efforts like House of Hope, Informed Choices or Life-to-Life Africa just to name a few opportunities. Other opportunities might be created on an individual basis in which, for example, we help a family with childcare, help with home repairs, teach English as a second language to an international, adopt a college student or some other creative project that would spread the gospel through serving others.
The heart of gospel growth is to be a gospel-centered church that is used to spread a passion for the glory of God in all things to all peoples, tribes, tongues and cultures (Acts 1:8, 20:24, Rom. 10:13-15, 1 Thess. 1:8-9, 2:19-20).
The Disciple’s Call
We experience gospel-growth in the kingdom by living with the purpose to make God known and enjoyed. Those who have been reconciled to God through the gospel have ample opportunity to enter into the work of evangelism and missions. From living a life of service by interacting with neighbors and coworkers, to outreach or short or long-term mission trips, our lives have been infused with purpose and meaning. The disciple’s call is for gospel-centered growth for the glory of our God.
A Culture of Evangelism
Like a Culture of Discipleship, we desire that GABC be a body that has in it’s DNA a Culture of Evangelism because we desire to see the lost saved. We believe that as the gospel is discussed among our members it will lead to conversations with those who have yet to trust Christ. We desire that our members know how to give a reason for why they believe the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We believe that as we become a healthy gospel-centered church that growth is natural. As we grow we hope to give birth to new churches through church planting efforts. We desire to plant churches with people in whom we have invested our lives. Our church planting might be here in Ames or in some other part of the state, region or world.
God is clear in His Scripture that we are to have a heart that longs for all nations to know Him and worship Him. This means that every Christian should be on mission with God by going, giving and all should be praying. We desire to see our neighborhoods come to Christ as much as the nations to come to Christ (2 Cor. 5:11-12, Matt. 28:18-20).
We seek to cooperate with other like-minded Christians and churches for gospel growth in global missions by praying, giving and going. We have mission thrusts that are through our local church and we also collaborate with mission endeavors under the auspices of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Statement of Faith
Our statement of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message (2000), summarizes what we believe the Bible teaches about several areas of doctrine.
Our Church Covenant summarizes what we believe about how to live together in a local church. (Church Covenant with Scripture references.)
Our bylaws outline how we govern ourselves as a local congregation.
Our Church Polity Principles document summarizes what we believe about local church government.
This ongoing study will cover four aspects of church polity:
- Membership (audio, handout, manuscript)
Grand Avenue Baptist Church is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and the Baptist Convention of Iowa.