SESSION 6: COMMITTING TO MEMBERSHIP WITH FOLLOWING JESUS
We have looked at:
- Jesus and his first community – to follow Jesus was to join his local group;
- The Early Church – initiation into Christian faith (in baptism) meant belonging in the local church;
- Three Sociological models of ‘doing church’ and their underlying values – we do ‘centered set’ church;
- Our Ministry Framework – our mission, vision, values, priorities and practices (the circled triangle); and its structured implementation via HELP (Holistic Equipping Life Process) and the People’s Flow chart.
- TO MAKE AN INFORMED COMMITMENT: UNDERSTANDING OTHER ASPECTS OF OUR CHURCH
- Small Groups – Two basic types and their purpose (see Small Group Grid diagram):
- We are a Small (Home) Group Church – rather than a church with small groups (see hand out): Small groups are the place of belonging, community, discipleship, ministry and outreach – a ‘People’s Church’ where ‘Body-life’ happens as in the Ephesians 4:12-16 & 1Cor 12 model.
- Standing on two legs – the decentralized and centralized aspects of church (see hand out): We ‘do church’ in a balanced tension between the decentralized aspects (e.g. HGs and M&M groups) and the centralized aspects (e.g. Sunday meetings, offices & staff, etc) of church.
- Our understanding and practice of leadership and church structure (see Philippians 1:1): Leadership and authority is both local (elders or OT, Oversight Team) and translocal (apostolic – national Vineyard leaders, to whom we are accountable). Leadership works in team; but every team has a leader (as in the senior pastor, Alexander Venter). Leadership is not position, power and title (see Matt 20:25-30, 23:8-12). Leadership is functional serving, facilitating, enabling, relational authority, giving direction, taking responsibility, a team player and team builder.
- HOW DO YOU BECOME A MEMBER OF FOLLOWING JESUS?
- We see membership as: both a dynamic process of relational belonging and participation (on the centered set model), and a specific point of commitment. How do we come to commitment?
- By a conviction from God: that Following Jesus is your home (Wimber said, “you don’t join Vineyard, you discover you are Vineyard”), that God is “placing you” in this body (1Cor 12:18). And the conviction that you should commit is not one-way – we too must make that decision.
- On the basis of the vision & values, and leadership: you have to be able to agree with the vision and values – it must ‘gel’ for you. And you must be able to trust and submit to the leaders because they ‘carry’ the vision and values, and will account to God for you (Hebrews 13:17).
- Have the blessing of your previous leadership: we cannot receive you into membership if there is unresolved stuff with your previous church and its leadership.
- EXPECTATIONS & RESPONSIBILITIES OF MEMBERSHIP (for integrity of relationship)
- To ‘work with’ the leadership, vision and values: to have a ‘team’ attitude, a ‘family’ approach, on the basis of adult-to-adult relationships. We don’t have to agree on everything, but constant pulling against the leadership and their vision is not workable. It also means being willing to be ‘pastored’, and even corrected if necessary, by the eldership.
- To be in (reasonable) regular Home Group and Sunday Celebration attendance: belonging and growing into relationships takes time and effort – regular attendance is key to this (Heb 10:25).
- To get HELP in working at your discipleship and spiritual growth: to take responsibility for your brokenness and work on your healing and growth, discovering your calling and gifts from God, in order to serve those around you, in and beyond the church. And to do this via the seven HELP (Holistic Equipping Life Process) discipleship courses, as and when they are taught.
- To be regular and faithful in financial giving: giving tithes and offerings to God is a basic act of belonging – taking responsibility for your part in financing the work God has given us to do in Following Jesus. Financial giving is a matter of worship (acknowledgement of God’s ownership and provision), family responsibility and personal discipline (Mal 3:6-12; 2Cor 9:6-11; Matt 6:1).
- To resolve conflict and ‘process stuff’ as Jesus taught: we expect you to keep your relationships healthy by processing any concerns or disagreements, with fellow members or leaders, in the manner that Jesus taught (Matt 5:23-24 cf. Matt 18:15-20). This includes the process of leaving the church: if you feel you want to leave for any reason, we expect you to process it with us for integrity of relationship – not to announce your decision or quietly slip out the ‘back door’.
- WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT OF US IN BEING A MEMBER? (for integrity of relationship)
- To be cared for within small group belonging: mutual responsibility for mutual pastoring.
- To have Sunday celebrations facilitated for you: small groups periodically help with set up.
- To be guided into your calling and ministry: what following Jesus in community is all about.
- To have access to specialized counseling, ministry and training (HELP): i.e. beyond that which your home group can give you (the small group is the first ‘port of call’ for most things).
- To have accountable leadership: through regular financial statements (available via the church office); periodic broader leaders meetings – and members meetings; and appeal to other leaders on the team both within and outside the local Vineyard (if there is a dispute with a leader).
- And to have baby-dedications, baptism, marriage and funerals provided for you!
In closing: if you’re ready to commit to membership with Following Jesus we’ll set up an interview with you about the above expectations, to make sure we’re on the same page. If there is an agreed sense that God is joining you to Following Jesus, we will receive you into membership on a Sunday morning.