Early Years

The Early Years 2003 – 2008

In April, 2003, we moved into our new facility at our current location. NEHBC quickly grew to a church of several hundred, expanded her ministries, and began adding full-time staff to the leadership team. As is the case with any church plant, the early years were devoted to survival and becoming viable as we organized the church and learned how to minister to a growing body of believers. Not knowing the long-term vision of the church, we focused on three core convictions, or as we called them, "pillars:" evangelism, Bible teaching, and prayer.

While our church gathered regularly to go out and share the Gospel, to pray together, and to study the Bible, Pastor Nathan launched the church by preaching through the book of Matthew in the Sunday morning worship services. Our first domestic mission trip was in 2003, when 9 people went to New Hampshire to assist a church plant. Our first international mission trip was in 2004, when one person went to Estonia to begin working alongside an IMB missionary family in an effort to plant a church in the former Soviet state.

Additionally, these early years were spent determining our identity as a local church. Surrounded by very successful megachurches effectively using great fanfare to draw large numbers of people onto their campus, we began to sense the "come and see" strategy was well-covered in our area. If the Lord wanted another church like that, He could just make the churches already effective at it even bigger. As a result, more and more we sensed a "go and tell" mentality began to grow in us --- the notion that we meet mainly to worship, be discipled, and renew our zeal, in order that we can live among unbelievers, living life where they live theirs, in order to take the Gospel from our city to the ends of the earth.

As God was beginning to shape our philosophy of ministry, He simultaneously was galvanizing a conviction inside us that to be an authentic, New Testament church, we must be biblically healthy: unified, caring for each other, living under the Lordship of Christ, learning to obey everything He has commanded us, fervent in our evangelistic spirit, sacrificial in our commitment to Gospel advancement, and the like. Our measure of success would not be the scope of our facilities, the size of our campus, the number of people in attendance, or the amount of money coming in. Celebrating those victories would lead to a very pragmatic approach to ministry--making plans in light of what would bring in the most people, which would in turn generate increased revenue and facilities. Pragmatism often leads to large local churches filled with believers who are not abandoned to Christ and lack authentic Christian community.

Instead, we deeply value being an authentic, New Testament church. We value the health of the local church over the scope of the local church. We believe that we should be concerned about the depth of our church and the Lord is responsible for the breadth of our church. So, while we are very grateful for, and respectful of, our sister churches in the greater area, we personally reject the pursuit of church growth strategies and "come and see" ministries. Instead, we deeply value the health of the local church, believing a healthy local church will effectively win the lost and develop Christ-followers who have abandoned themselves to the Lord.

As a result, we have some values that we believe are marks of a healthy, local church. When these factors are emphasized and valued, we believe the church can be biblically healthy and produce disciple-making disciples:
  • Expository preaching: We value careful and systematic teaching of God's Word. The corporate teaching ministry of the church must be central to the life of the church.
  • Biblical theology: We believe the Bible is completely true, contains everything we need to live righteously and intimately with God in this broken world, and is the final authority on all matters of faith and practice in the church and in our personal lives. We hold to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as our statement of faith.
  • The Gospel: More than ever, the biblical standard of Gospel must be upheld and proclaimed within the local church on a very regular basis. A local church should be unashamed of the biblical standard of salvation, and yet ensure it is not adding to the Gospel an unbiblical standard of salvation.
  • Discipleship: Evangelism is only one-half of making disciples. Christ-followers must be "taught to obey everything He has commanded us." We lovingly and unapologetically teach all of God's Word one-on-one, in small groups, and in large gatherings, and we urge believers to respond to God's Word with surrender, trust, and obedience.
  • Missions: From our city to the ends of the earth, we have a spiritual, ethical, and moral responsibility to advance the Gospel; no distance is too far, no price too high, no sacrifice too great for every man, woman, and child to have the opportunity to become a disciple of Jesus Christ.
  • Polity: The church is led by God-sent, congregation-called pastor(s). The congregation calls their pastor and then follows his leadership. Vital to biblical polity is fair and genuine accountability of the pastor by the laity. While the pastor provides leadership of the church, it must be done under the hand of Christ.
  • Meaningful membership: The local church is a body of baptized believers in covenant relationship. Membership is the covenant relationship whereby the pastor and body of believers know who is personally committed to the body, and the member knows they will be lovingly cared for by the body. An effective new member process and church discipline are the twin sisters that protect the body.
Our commitment to these values has led us to be a very healthy, unified local church. Though we might each individually be at different mile markers along the journey, we are growing together in our relationship with Jesus Christ, who is our Head.

The Lord used the early years to lead us to a "go and tell" philosophy of ministry and a deep commitment to the marks of a biblically healthy, local church.

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