Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Church Plant: The Membership Meeting

I have been blogging a bit on the church plant I am involved in. I had written at about my interaction with church membership in the past; and noted it was not certain I would ever join Westport Church - the church plant I am involved in.

My wife and I did attend the first week of a three week membership class (called Portico) on Sunday. She will continue to attend; and I am likely not to make it to another class due to work restrictions. We will see. Since there are folks out there involved in church ministry and/or asked to be kept up to date - I thought I would pass on this class at Brain Cramps and Street Prophets.

The Goals for Portico:

  • To orient you to the core values, vision and mission of Westport Church
  • To describe for you what we believe the Christian life looks like
  • To identify the basic beliefs and structure of Westport
  • To give guidance in where you can serve and connect in Westport
The "Value of Values":

The purpose of values ("The constant, biblically based central beliefs that define and guide Westport"):
  • Give us identity
  • Shape our decision-making and resource allocation
  • Protect us from ineffectiveness and division
"Whenever people don't get along or differ over major ministry decisions in a church... the problem often lies in the area of their core values." -- Aubrey Malphurs, Ministry Nuts and Bolts

Core Value #1: Treasuring Jesus
We are a community of people who desire to make much of Jesus, and through Him, to glorify God the Father. We will emphasize the person of Jesus as our only true and lasting treasure, which motivates us for service.
Why is "Treasuring Jesus" one of our values?

1. It is a Biblical Concept
Matthew 13:44 -- The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Philippians 3:8-10 -- I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ...

Psalm 27:4 -- One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.

Psalm 37:4 -- Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.

2 Corinthians 4:7 -- We have this treasure in earthen vessels..."
2. It is vital to our mission and vision
Our vision: to help people in the western region of Portland discover the beauty of Jesus Christ, His Word and His church so that they can experience forgiveness, restoration and joy.

Our mission: Engaging our community with the Gospel, teaching believers to treasure Jesus Christ and equipping them to be leaders of spiritual influence in our local and global communities.
  • We believe that when we see Jesus for who He really is, in all of His beauty... we will naturally exalt Him as our greatest treasure.
  • When this happens, our worship and service at Westport will be authentic and we will find great pleasure and satisfaction in it.
3. It Creates Measurable Marks for our Community:
  • Worship -- "to show an authentic faith in and devotion to"
    • Expressed in awe, reverence, and wonder -- Psalm 95:1-7
      ''Worship can never be the sole work of the rational mind. It can't be drawn out on paper or measured out on charts. Worship and wonder, which are so closely connected, are all about coming to the end of our measurements. In the presence of the Almighty God... the sense of wonder comes naturally and leaves us changed. How could we respond any other way?" -- David Jeremiah, My Heart's Desire
    • Expressed in everyday, ordinary life -- Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 10:31

  • Community with other believers
    • Expressed in love for one another
    • If we are to treasure Jesus, we must treasure what He Treasures - Ephesians 5:25

  • Spiritual Growth -- results from a willingness and a desire for learning:
    • What is growth? It is progressive life change:
      2 Peter 1:3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence,
      - in your faith supply moral excellence, and
      - in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and
      - in your knowledge, self-control, and
      - in your self-control, perseverance, and
      - in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and
      - in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and
      - in your brotherly kindness, love.
      8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    • How does it happen?
      • Wrong View: Point of Salvation + passage of time + our will + our individual application = Life change
      • Correct View: Point of Salvation + intentionality (doesn't "just happen" over time) + training + community = Life change

  • Impact - results from intentional personal efforts in local and global efforts
    Matthew 5:16 -- Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
    • "I Treasure Jesus so much, I want others to know and treasure him too!"
    • Intentional use of time, gifts, and resources
    • Intentional physical witness
    • Intentional verbal witness

  • Around the core value of Treasuring Jesus (that is the fuel - not guilt), these 4 marks are emphasized at the same time to avoid imbalance. We never "phase out" or "arrive" - this is about lifelong growth at ever increasing levels (see 2 Peter 1:8 above)
4. It actually shapes the identity of our community
  • Treasuring Jesus is only possible with a transformed heart -- can only really be appreciated by spiritual people…people who have been redeemed
  • We believe the church, by definition, is a group of believers. To be a part of this community [that is member and not attendee] called Westport Church, we insist that you be a lover of Jesus Christ and that you find your identity in Christ. We're asking anyone who wants to join Westport to affirm this statement of the Gospel:
  • We believe that there is ONE true God, who sent His Son Jesus Christ to die as payment for our sins. After three days, Jesus was raised from the grave and now lives in Heaven with the Father. We believe that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live in those who repent and believe this Gospel, according to the Scriptures.
    By affirming this statement, we affirm several things:
    • The Holy Trinity (God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit)
    • The Holy Scriptures (without error and inspired by God) - in original manuscripts
    • The Insufficiency of Man (all have sinned and require redemption)
    • The Sufficiency of Christ (his death satisfied the Father's wrath)

Core Value #2: Theological Emphasis
"Theological foundation is essential for transformation. Theology will be emphasized through the passionate and creative communication of the Bible. Transformative Bible study will be modeled publicly, creating a passion for studying it personally."

Why is Theological Emphasis one of our values?

1. Theology is vital to Our Vision
  • Some key definitions:
    • Theology -- "the study of God how He relates to His creation"
    • Doctrine -- "what the whole Bible teaches about a particular topic" - a holistic view
  • Is theology important? Yes! Should we bother with it?
    • The results of answering no:
      • Lack of confidence in our own beliefs
      • Lack of discernment:
        "some of God's sheep cannot tell the difference between grass and Astroturf!" - Unknown
      • Limits our effectiveness
      • Leads to lack of meaning
    • The answer is yes: God wants to be fully known; it’s a matter of obedience -- Matthew 28:19-20; Titus 2:1
      "You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilization to pieces, to turn the world upside down and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of literature." - Mahatma Gandhi
2. Theology is practical…REALLY!
  • At Westport, we want to debunk the common myth that "theology is too boring, it is unrelated to my life and I can't understand it."
  • Our motto is: I can do theology…I must do theology
  • Theology is for beginners -- 1 John 5:20; 1 Corinthians 2:10-15
  • Theology gives us a framework for understanding life -- 2 Peter 1:2-3
  • Examples of practical theology:
    • "created in the image of God" relates to the dignity and value of human beings
    • "created He man and woman" relates to gender issues
    • "Father, Son and Spirit" relates to diversity issues and marriage
    • "God's Sovereignty" relates to the justice of God
    • "without error" relates to morality and right/wrong
3. It protects our community 4. It influences our teaching model
  • Holistic teaching is our goal:
    • Theological: What truths should we believe?
    • Biblical: What facts should we know?
    • Practical: What principles should we adopt?
  • Theology is our "lens"
    Our teaching team will strive to teach through the lens of theology, in creative ways, so that you will enjoy learning theology and discover how it relates to your life.

The formal statements of church belief are to be found here

Coming Sessions 2 & 3:
  • Core Value #3 - Transformational Community
  • Core Value #4 - Team Leadership
  • Joining the Team Packet

  • Core Value #5 - Community Service (i2)
  • Core Value #6 - Creative Ministry
  • Unity Covenant

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How to debate charitably (rules are links to more description of rule):
1. The Golden Rule
2. You cannot read minds
3. People are not evil
4. Debates are not for winning
5. You make mistakes
6. Not everyone cares as much as you
7. Engaging is hard work
8. Differences can be subtle
9. Give up quietly