We are a church that God is still speaking to and working through today. He wants a relationship with us, and He works through us. He has a purpose for each and everyone of us that includes: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and mission.
Our goal in worship is to touch or “kiss toward” God with our deepest love and devotion. The Scriptures are replete with examples of the fact that God loves diversity and the same is true about worship. Some folks are most comfortable sitting quietly or singing along with the worship leader. Others may stand, clap, raise their hands, wave banners, dance before the Lord, sing or even shout. As long as the act of worship is clearly directed toward God and not an attempt to draw attention to oneself, we feel that liberty should prevail.
We have learned through practice that “culturally relevant,” means relevant to the folks you are trying to lead in worship; therefore, the style or genre of music may be as diverse as bluegrass gospel, traditional hymns, contemporary praise and worship, or spontaneous song. Instruments are only limited by the availability of skilled players. The worship team comes under the auspice of the worship pastor and worship leader.
We do not follow any church calendar or liturgy, but we do borrow from them freely if it seems good to us and the Holy Spirit. The worship service is very informal and relaxed and may change direction as the Holy Spirit moves the pastor or worship leader. Baptized believers are free to express their sensing from the Spirit during a worship service, but should do so by being recognized by the leadership at front at that time.
This is not an attempt to quench the Spirit but to avoid confusion and to have everything done in order. Noteworthy is a pattern that God has given us through our times together: if the pastor is sitting and teaching, please feel free to ask your questions as the opportunity arises; if the pastor is standing and preaching, please hold your questions until such time as they are called for.
We embrace the giftings of the Holy Spirit in all of their manifestations, but we do reserve the right to pastor our church. It is not the usual experience at FLWC to have multiple expressions of tongues or prophecy but we have experienced these and other gifts from time-to-time in our Body. If you feel impressed to deliver a message in tongues, please wait for an appropriate time and if there is no interpretation forthcoming, please abide by the Scriptures. Feel free to pray quietly in whatever language.
For the safety and pastoring of our flock we ask that if you feel that God has spoken to you through the prophetic that you submit that to the pastoral staff before speaking out in the congregation or in care-group. You will not be criticized or rebuked even if the pastor thinks the message inappropriate for the time or setting, however, you must receive the pastor’s decision as final for that moment.
We practice baptism by immersion because we feel that this method best represents the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It is not our place or our desire to judge others that practice any other methodology, but we do require baptism for membership at FLWC. We observe the Lord’s Supper every Sunday of each month. The pastor is available to solemnize weddings but will only do so in the future for those couples that have completed premarital counseling with him or his representative. The church also conducts funeral services for those families in need, either in the church or the broader community.
Our goal in fellowship is “koinonia” meaning “communion or sharing in common.” It is our hope that we learn to love and serve one another in many, many ways. We need to practice hospitality with one another and cultivate deep, meaningful relationships beyond what happens on Sundays. We hope every member becomes plugged in as many ways as possible, both to have their own needs met and to be involved in meeting some needs.
(It should be apparent that this “fellowship” piece crosses over into other areas like worship, discipleship, ministry, and mission, but in reality all of the different pieces are part of one another.) We “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace,” but since we still live in these houses of flesh, it is necessary to have some guidelines and structures for how we do what we do as a church.
For a full discussion of our structure please refer to the Bylaws. We have written our Bylaws to accommodate future growth, but at this writing, most of the officers just are not needed in our Body. The church board as a matter of trust and God’s calling makes most day-to-day decisions, but as per the Bylaws, decisions of a greater magnitude are brought before the whole Body.
We seek unanimity but can move on a majority or 2/3 vote in most circumstances. It is our desire to see people in actual ministry more than on committees or staffs, so simply put, if you feel that something needs done, bring it before the pastor and the board and you’ll probably be released into it. Don’t be surprised if you’re put in charge!
It can be stated that we are an autonomous local congregation that has voluntarily associated with MCUSA in order to participate in world missions and church planting more efficiently. We have brought ourselves under the rule of the MCUSA Constitution because we are in agreement with the principles therein and wanted a mechanism for accountability and protection.
Our goal in discipleship is to develop fully functional, fully committed followers of Jesus. As much as our present culture may not like the idea, discipline is a crucial element of discipleship. We will abide by the Matthew 18 principle with regard to church discipline as it pertains to sin , but this should be the rare exception in a Body of committed believers. More pressing is the question of day-to-day discipline within the church.
New members are asked to read the “FAMILY LIFE WORSHIP CENTER MEMBERSHIP COVENANT,” and are required to sign the membership roll, thereby signifying that they are committed to the principles of the Covenant. While we welcome all comers and readily incorporate new folks into what we are doing (if you’re here more than 3 times we claim you as one of our own!), membership is required in order to vote on church matters, have a vote during our annual conference, or to hold any position of authority within the church, including being a teacher, care-group leader, member of the worship team, or serve on any board.
This is not meant to be exclusive, but to allow us to pastor our own church. Each new member is encouraged to become associated with a care-group or Bible Study group, then as we grow and the need arises, we will organize under the “Jethro” model (Exodus 18:17-23), and new members will be assigned to a specific care provider. At a minimum, disciples need to be involved in Bible Study, an active prayer life, giving of their time, treasure and talents, and sharing their gifts through ministry and mission.
Ministry is using ones gifts in the service of the local congregation or the Body of Christ at large. Acts 2:42-47 is a wonderful picture of how the early church put this into action. Later in the development of the church , Paul tells us we are to “serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13), and “as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10). The goal, according to Ephesians 4:13, is “that the body of Christ may be built up in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
How do we do it? “So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts according to the grace given us” still we are to, “be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves … Share with God’s people who are in need” (Romans 10:5-13). It is as we love one another and minister to one another that we open the doors for our mission.
Mission is using ones gifts to help reach the lost. Each disciple is to be taught to “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:18-20). The Biblical pattern is that as we serve in harmony within a local congregation we will achieve our maximum effectiveness in reaching the lost. Jesus taught that, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). And on the same night, just hours before He was arrested, He prayed for you and I that we “may be one … that the world may believe that you (the Father) have sent Me” (John 17:20-21).
You will be afforded many opportunities to serve both in ministry and mission as you are found to be committed and available. Just as Jesus said to his disciples: “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37).