1. What is unique about GPCNZ?
GPCNZ is a national Presbyterian Church that holds strongly to the Bible as its rule of faith and life. As a church, we have a passion for God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and a passion for people. This means that in all that we do we seek to bring glory to God and to be aware of where he is leading us through his Word and Holy Spirit. It also means that we are dedicated to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are lost, both here in New Zealand and elsewhere. In doing so, we remain firmly committed to the Reformed faith as the most consistent presentation and outworking of Biblical Christianity
2. How does GPCNZ view the Bible?
We believe that the Bible is God's word. It has been fully inspired by God the Holy Spirit and contains all that people need to know for salvation and to rightly understand the world – God’s world - in which they live. By its very nature the Bible is infallible, and forms a perfect rule for both faith and life. We believe that as God's people we need to be immersed or "marinated" in the Bible to understand how to live for God in this world.
3. What does GPCNZ believe?
The best summary of what we believe the Scriptures teach is found in the Westminster Confession of Faith, one of the several great summaries of doctrine that emerged out of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th and 17th centuries. Key elements in this Confession are the sovereignty of God in creation, providence and redemption, the centrality of the life, death and resurrection of the God-Man Jesus Christ in God’s purposes, and the necessity of the Holy Spirit in the application of all aspects of salvation. It also highlights the nature and purpose of the Church, and the need to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ in every area of life.
4. How would you describe GPCNZ?
GPCNZ is Presbyterian in government, Reformed in theology, and Evangelical in spirit.
5. What does it mean to be "Presbyterian”?
The term Presbyterian refers essentially to the way in which a church is governed. A Presbyterian Church is governed by elders according to the pattern seen in both the Old and New Testaments. This is in distinction to being ruled by bishops in a hierarchical model, or by members in a congregational model. In a Presbyterian church, biblically qualified elders are recognized through congregational election and rule the church corporately. This government is exercised locally, regionally and nationally through a graded series of courts usually known as Session, Presbytery and General Assembly. It provides a way for the whole Church to be connected in mutual accountability and responsibility, and demonstrates organizationally our common bond as the body of Christ under His Headship.
6. What does it mean to be "Reformed?"
To be "Reformed" means several things. Historically, it means that we trace our roots to the
Reformation, when John Calvin and others led a movement to reform the Church according to the Scriptures. Theologically, it means that we believe in the absolute sovereignty of God and in God’s glory as the highest good. This historical and theological heritage is often expressed in the "alones" of the Reformation, namely:
7. What does it mean to be "Evangelical'?
To be "Evangelical" means to believe in the importance of sharing the good news of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. It is to proclaim that through Jesus Christ the kingdom of God has been inaugurated, freeing people from the guilt and power of sin and death through personal faith and repentance. As a Church we express this priority by stating in our governing documents that evangelism is the first work of the church. We also show its importance through our emphasis on church planting and world missions.
8. Does GPCNZ believe in missions?
Absolutely! As a young denomination we do not have many of our own missionaries serving in overseas countries yet. However, by the grace of God we were able, at our second General Assembly, to commission a family for a brief term of service with the Middle East Reformed Fellowship (MERF) in Kenya. Local congregations also actively support missionaries serving overseas through other agencies, and we encourage our young people to experience mission work through short-term mission schemes. It is our prayer that our people will catch the vision of worldwide missions and become active and fruitful in many different places.
9. What is your relationship to other Presbyterian and Reformed denominations?
GPCNZ identifies positively with other Presbyterian and Reformed denominations that share our commitment to historic Christianity. In particular, it stands alongside those who look to the Bible as the final authority on matters relating to sin, salvation and judgment, and on issues of morality and practice. We are in a process of initiating formal relationships with the Reformed Churches of New Zealand, with the Presbyterian Church of Australia, and the Presbyterian Church of America.
10. How does GPCNZ view the gifts of the Holy Spirit?
GPCNZ believes the Holy Spirit is active today applying the benefits of Christ's redemption and equipping his Church for service through spiritual gifts, including the gifts of office (Eph. 4:8ff). We believe that God’s people need to be encouraged to serve Him with all the gifts the Spirit gives. We believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is inseparable from the new birth (1 Cor. 12:13), and that it is the duty of every believer to be filled with the Holy Spirit as part of the ongoing work of God's grace (Eph. 5:18).
11. What is GPCNZ's position on social issues such as homosexuality and abortion?
GPCNZ looks to the Bible as the rule of faith and practice on such issues. We believe that the Bible teaches that homosexual practice, like many other things, is sinful. We also believe that, in relation to abortion, the Bible does not distinguish between prenatal and postnatal life, attributing personhood to the unborn child.
While all sins are offensive to God and merit his judgment, we believe that some sins, because of their nature, their effect on society, and the explicit teaching of Scripture concerning them, ought to be restrained by legislation. We believe that such sins as abortion, homosexuality, prostitution, theft and perjury fall within this category.
We believe that God is just when he punishes sinners in their sin. Yet, we believe that since these people are image bearers of God, we are to offer the mercy of God in the gospel to them, and to and call them to repent and believe that they might have eternal life.
As a Church then, we call upon the governing authorities to restrain social evils and at the same time offer compassion and proclaim the Gospel to perpetrators and victims alike.
12. Where is the GPCNZ congregation nearest to me?
You can find out where the nearest GPCNZ congregation is by referring to our church finder. If there is no GPCNZ congregation in your area do contact us. We are always eager to meet groups of people who share our beliefs and who are interested in church planting.
13. What is GPCNZ's view of women in office?
GPCNZ believes that women are valued members of God's kingdom who have many different functions and roles within the life of the Church. However, we believe that the Scriptures limit the office of pastors and elders to men, in spite of this view being widely rejected in churches today. Women who are older in the faith are encouraged to teach younger women how to live as mature Christians, but this does not make them pastors or elders.
14. In GPCNZ, who owns the property of a local church?
Each local congregation has the right to own and control its own property
15. Does GPCNZ have any special programs for youth or women?
GPCNZ maintains active programmes for youth and women's ministries. Our National Youth Committee encourages young people through study camps over the New Year and Easter breaks. Similarly, our National Women's Committee promotes women's ministries in local churches. There are also Presbytery- and Assembly-wide training and retreat programs.
16. How are local churches represented in GPCNZ?
Every congregation has a right to send representatives to meetings of Presbytery and General Assembly. Our form of government allocates each congregation two commissioners at such meetings. These are usually a ruling and a teaching elder, although, if a congregation does not have a teaching elder, it can send two ruling elders instead.
17. How big is GPCNZ?
At this point (August 2010) GPCNZ consists of 18 churches around New Zealand.
18. Does GPCNZ have its own colleges and seminaries?
GPCNZ does not have its own denominational theological colleges or seminaries. It does, however, have several students studying for the ministry at Grace Theological College, an independent Theological College in Auckland. The first General Assembly of our Church approved Grace Theological College as the training institution in New Zealand for our denomination. The website for Grace Theological College is www.gtc.ac.nz
19. What is on the horizon for GPCNZ?
Since our beginning we have felt that we represented a unique move of God in our country. We have been blessed with a fervent beginning, a warm spirit and an uncommon oneness of heart. While most of our churches already existed before GPCNZ began as a denomination in February 2003, we nevertheless have a deep desire to see the kingdom of God extended through energetic church planting and evangelism. We expect our intense efforts in church planting to breed a church planting mentality that will produce significant growth in the next decade.
20. Where are your denominational offices?
GPCNZ does not have any denominational offices. The Clerk of our General Assembly is the point of contact with our Church. He can be reached by writing to: The Stated Clerk, GPCNZ. PO Box 31-210 Ilam, Christchurch 8004.
21. How can your church become part of GPCNZ?
The process of becoming a member church in GPCNZ begins with getting to know one another. You can start by calling the Clerk of Assembly, or one of the pastors of the Church. We can provide you with contacts to begin the process.
At a more formal level, becoming part of GPCNZ requires firstly that your congregation vote to affiliate with us as a denomination. Each of your office-bearers must be able to affirm the vows of ordination in our Book of Church Order, and that the GPCNZ Presbytery in your area has to pass on to the Assembly a request for them to vote to accept you and your pastor(s) into membership. If you are currently affiliated with another denomination, you will have to consult with officials of that denomination about the process for being released.