Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions that we receive about our church. Please also see our Doctrinal Statement, Philosophy of Ministry Statements, Teaching Positions and Distincrives pages for more information on what we teach.
What can I expect when I come to a service at Westgate Baptist Church?
Here at WBC we are not trying to reinvent the church, or find ways to attract people. Instead, we simply desire to honor the Lord and to stay true to the primary elements of worship as delineated in His Word. Therefore our Lord’s Day worship services consist of worshipping the Lord through the preaching of His Word (1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:2); through praying (1 Tim. 2:1-8; Acts 2:42); through giving (1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 8-9); through singing (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:18-19); through mutually edifying, encouraging and ministering to one another through the employment of our God-given spiritual gifts (1 Pet. 4:10-11; 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4:11-16; Rom. 12:6-8; Heb. 3:12-14; Heb. 10:24-25; Rom. 15:14; Titus 2:1-5); through partaking in the Lord’s Supper (Mt. 26:26-30; 1 Cor. 11:22-34; Acts 2:42); and through baptizing genuine born-again believers, who have demonstrated the fruits of genuine conversion and have clearly and cogently articulated the gospel and it’s transforming power in their life (Mt. 28:19). Please note that the ordinances of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism are not administered each Lord’s Day.
Our singing is characterized by songs that express sound theology. Some are the great hymns of the faith that have been around for hundreds of years. Many times these are accompanied by piano and organ. We also love singing some of the doctrinally sound songs written in contemporary times. These songs may be accompanied by keyboard, guitars, and some percussion instruments. Perhaps there will be a flute or violin at times. We have a team of singers that helps the congregation, especially when learning a new song. In other words, we have a "blended" service when it comes to music -- some old and some new.
One of our elders or lay leaders reads the Scriptures and prays. The expository sermon will most likely be part of a book study (for example, preaching expositionally verse by verse through the book of Acts or the book of Philippians, etc.). The sermon is usually 45 to 55 minutes long so that the text is accurately handled and sufficiently applied.
We also worship the Lord through the giving of our financial offerings to Him.
Our folks at WBC manifest a variety of “dress” styles. Some dress casually on Sundays (i.e. pants and a collared shirt... probably not shorts); some dress more formally (i.e. suits). The point is that we don't make an issue out of attire. Dress modestly, but dress the way you desire. All modest choices are welcome.
What Bible translation do you use?
We primarily preach and teach from the NASB and/or the ESV translations. (That obviously means we are not a “KJV Only” church.) We are interested in faithfulness to the best manuscript copies, and we believe that the NASB and ESV translations meet that requirement.
What is your perspective on Sunday School for children, as well as youth ministry for Junior High and High School students?
We appreciate the contribution that our Sunday school and youth ministry make to the growth of our children and students. We are not what some today commonly refer to as a “Family Integrated Church” (a movement in the contemporary church that does not utilize classes for children or students, but instead expects children to attend all services with their parents). We do, of course, love families. And we do teach the priority of family discipleship. But parents can make whatever choice they believe is best for the instruction of their children, whether bringing their young children into our worship services (provided that they don't serve as a distraction to others or a disruption to the service) or taking advantage of our many classes and discipleship ministries.
What is your position on such spiritual gifts as prophecy and tongues?
We hold the cessationist position on these “sign” gifts. That means we teach that these gifts (such as prophecy, tongues, miracles, etc.) are related to the giving of revelation and therefore are no longer in practice (Heb. 2:3-4). Once the canon of Scripture was completed, the need for new revelation, along with the need for signs that verified the message and the messenger, ceased. Today all teaching is judged and verified by the accurate interpretation of the Word of God -- the Bible. To repeat: there is no new revelation today.
What is your perspective about political involvement? In particular, what do you think about churches that get involved in political issues?
We believe that all Christians should be responsible citizens. But we are careful not to confuse political activity and conservatism with the gospel and the biblical mission of the church. As individual Christians we must live holy, respectable, and wise lives so that our reputation in the eyes of the world is one of integrity. We must pray for the leaders in our cities, states, and country. We need to be knowledgeable of issues, and we need to vote in such a way that we reflect biblical principles. But it is important that we don't think fulfilling our civic responsibility is the same thing as proclaiming the gospel. The gospel is not a message about social or moral reform -- it is a message about the forgiveness of sin and the way to have the righteousness needed to stand before God. The mission of the church is related to the gospel, not social and moral reform. We therefore don't preach politically-charged sermons. Instead of attempting to stir up political emotionalism, we simply preach the Word of God. If something in God's Word is controversial, the issue is with what God has clearly said and not our human opinions. We will take our stand on truth and on the biblical mandate for the church.
What choice for schooling children do you believe is the biblical choice?
We are supportive of any choice of education for children. It is up to the parents to decide if their children should be home-schooled, placed in a private school, or in a public school. We do not teach that Scripture supports one of these methods above another, and therefore all families are welcome regardless of their schooling choice. The directions for parents found in Deu 6:6-7 and Eph 6:4 are for all parents regardless of the choice they make when it comes to school for their children. In other words, no particular choice makes the fulfillment of these passages any more possible or any easier.
Where do you stand on the issue of legalism versus liberty in Christ?
We preach liberty in Christ as opposed to legalism. By that we mean that we want to emphasize what Scripture clearly teaches and not go beyond the Word. There are many "gray areas" in life that we deal with every day. These are issues that the Bible does not address directly by saying the issue or activity is clearly right or clearly wrong. On these issues/activities, individual Christians have to make choices of preference based upon conscience. So we do not take a stand on preference issues that Scripture does not clearly address; we do teach biblical principles on these issues that help people make wise decisions.
What is “church discipline,” and does WBC practice it?
This is the process outlined by Jesus Himself in Matthew 18 as the proper way to deal with professing believers when they are committing known sin. Yes, we do believe in this process (since it's commanded in Scripture). We prefer, however, to call it “church restoration” since the goal is not to punish someone, but to restore him to a faithful walk with Christ (Gal. 6:1). As Matthew 18 outlines, there are 4 steps to the process: (1) one individual privately confronting another individual who is in sin; (2) one individual taking witnesses to confront the sinning Christian if there has been no repentance; (3) if the sinning Christian still does not repent, the elders are to tell the entire church so that others can pray and confront the person; (4) if still no repentance, the unrepentant person is to be put out of the church and treated as a “Gentile” (i.e. an unbeliever).
“Step One” of this process may very well be frequently taking place in the life of a church as concerned individuals show love and concern for a brother or sister who is struggling. The other “Steps” may not be very common. But nevertheless, we are willing to obey the Lord when these steps prove necessary. We are to take holiness, the unity and purity of the church, and the spiritual life of our brothers and sisters very seriously. If we truly love someone, we will speak the truth in love to them so that they grow in their love for Christ.
What position do you take on the account of creation in Genesis?
We affirm that the first two chapters of Genesis teach that God created the world in a literal, six-day period. According to the Hebrew grammar in these chapters, these “days of creation” are literal twenty-four hour days. This clear presentation in Scripture stands firmly against the “theory of evolution,” a theory fraught with significant problems that true science continually uncovers. The fact is that there is nothing in science to disprove a literal approach to understanding Genesis, and there is nothing in the rest of Scripture to contradict this literal approach to Genesis. On the contrary, there is much biblical and scientific data to confirm that we live on a “young earth.” Frankly, if we do not accept what God clearly tells us in the first two chapters of Genesis, why shouldn't we question the rest of the Bible as well?
Do you utilize the findings of psychology in your counseling?
The short answer – “no.” We believe that in the Living Word (Christ) and the written Word (the Scriptures) we find everything true Christians need for “life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3-4). One must ask this simple question: “What did God's people do for centuries to deal with their problems, before Freud and other psychologists came along?” We do not believe that God left His people in the dark with no help. Instead, the truth of Scripture is like a two-edged sword that pierces into the deepest part of a person -- the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb 4:12). This truth, therefore, is sufficient for counseling (2 Tim. 3:16-17). That means we are not “integrationists” -- counselors who try to mix their faulty views of fallen man with the inspired, inerrant, authoritative, sufficient, superior truth of God's Word.
Do you allow women to serve as pastors or elders?
We hold to the biblical view of manhood and womanhood that is found in Scripture. This includes the fact that God has created men and women to fulfill different roles in the family and in the church. According to 1 Tim 2:9-15, women are not allowed to function as a pastor or an elder in the church, or to teach in corporate situations where both men and women are present. This has nothing to do with inherent abilities or lack of abilities in men and women, and it has nothing to do with a particular culture. Paul makes it clear that this is based upon the order of creation. Women are to serve in various significant ways in the church. But serving as an elder or pastor is not one of these ways. We are grateful for the spiritual impact that women have in the church. We are also grateful for the spiritual impact that women have in the home as they devote themselves to their husbands and their children. We must, however, trust God's Word and the qualifications presented there for those who serve in positions of leadership in the local church setting.