The Inland Northwest Cooperative (INC) is a network of local churches which will seek to further the work of the gospel in the Inland Northwest by planting churches, training future pastors, and cooperating for local outreach. It will strengthen the health of its churches by providing doctrinal accountability, ministerial fellowship, and support for churches in need.
Inland Northwest Cooperative Theological Distinctives
We are committed to Historic Orthodoxy
As an expression of commitment to historic orthodoxy, the INC adheres to the confessional document of The Gospel Coalition and the following six theological distinctives.
We are committed to the Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture
We believe that the Scriptures are both fully and verbally inspired by God. Therefore, as originally given, the Bible is free from error in all it teaches. The scriptures are the authoritative and normative rule and guide for the Christian life, doctrine, and practice. They are totally sufficient and must not be added to, superseded, or changed by later tradition, extra-biblical revelation, or worldly wisdom. The sufficiency of scripture implies that we should not rely on the findings of psychology, sociology, marketing, medicine, business leaders, or anthropology to build healthy churches. Every doctrinal formulation—whether of creed, confession, or theology—must be put to the test of the whole counsel of God in holy scripture. Our convictions about the Bible’s inerrancy are discussed in more detail in the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.
We are committed to Gospel Centrality
The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ's birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, session, and future return and kingdom. Christ’s crucifixion is the heart of the gospel, his resurrection is the power of the gospel, and his ascension is the glory of the gospel. His death is a substitutionary and propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, satisfying the demands of God’s holy justice and appeasing his holy wrath. It also demonstrates his mysterious love and reveals his amazing grace. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man. There is no other name by which men must be saved. The cross of Jesus Christ stands at the heart of all sound doctrine. And redeemed sinners have the infinite privilege of glorifying God for what He has accomplished. Therefore, we want all that takes place in our hearts, churches, and ministries to proceed from and be related to the gospel.
Gospel centrality leads to several implications. First, the gospel is not just the means of entrance into the Christian life. It is the means of growth and empowerment throughout the Christian life. Second, effective gospel ministry always explains the commands of scripture (ethical imperatives) in the context of Christ's work (redemptive indicatives). Third, effective gospel ministry makes the gospel central to the church's life by preaching the gospel, singing the gospel, praying the gospel, counseling in light of the gospel, and discipling with the gospel. Finally, effective gospel ministry seeks to preach Christocentrically—not merely theocentrically—by placing every sermon in the context of the life, death, resurrection, and return of Jesus Christ.
We are committed to Reformed Theology
We are committed to the theological distinctives of the 16th century Protestant Reformation. The protestant reformers presented the all-glorious, triune God as the source and end of all things (Romans 11:36), sovereignly working all things according to His will (Ephesians 1:11). At the center of God’s purposes in the world is the exaltation of His glory through the redemption of sinners (John 17:1–26). The specific theological distinctives of the reformation can be summarized with the five solas of the Reformation (Sola scriptura, Solus Christus, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Soli Deo Gloria) and evidenced by a commitment to reformed soteriology.
We are committed to Complementarity
We believe it was God’s glorious plan to create men and women in His image, giving them equal dignity and value in His sight while appointing differing and complementary roles for them within the home and the church (Genesis 1:26–28; Ephesians 5:22–33; 1 Timothy 2:8–15). Because these roles give different expressions to God’s image in humanity, we should value and pursue them in joy and faith. As the redeemed community of God, the church has a unique opportunity and responsibility to celebrate this complementarity, contend for it against cultural hostility, and protect it from sinful distortions. Our convictions about complementarity are discussed in more detail in the Danvers Statement.
We are committed to Biblical Ecclesiology
Jesus Christ reigns as head over His church, and He gives elders (or pastors) to govern and lead local churches under His authority (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 4:11; Titus 1:5). We believe that men, qualified in both character and gifting, are to serve as elders, shepherding God’s people as under-shepherds of Christ (1 Timothy 2:12; 3:1–7; 1 Peter 5:1–3). A church’s health is, to a great degree, dependent on the health of its elders. Therefore, we aim to strengthen current elders in our churches while identifying and training new ones (Acts 20:28; 2 Timothy 2:2). We are also committed to the practice of biblical church discipline (Matt. 18:15-20), regenerate church membership, a plurality of elders, and believer’s baptism. Our ecclesiastical convictions are discussed in more detail in Mark Dever's Nine Marks of a Healthy Church.
We are committed to Expository Preaching
We believe that expository preaching is one of the best ways to promote health in our churches. In expository preaching, the main message of the biblical text must become the central message of the sermon. The burden of the text must reign supreme over the whims and desires of the preacher. We also believe that consecutive exposition (preaching through books of the Bible) most effectively feeds the sheep for the long term.