Why Become Part of Grace Family?
Our number one need in life is to love and be loved. At Grace Church we emphasize that we are not a haven for saints, but a hospital for sinners. We are not perfect people, we’re real people who have found the hope and power that God offers, regardless of our situations or circumstances.
Bonhoffer in his book, “Life Together” suggests that disillusionment with our local church is a good thing in that it destroys any false expectations of perfection or the church being a place for saints. “The sooner we give up the illusion that a church must be perfect in order to love it, the sooner we quit pretending and start admitting we’re all imperfect and need grace. This is the beginning of real community.”
*Community exists for times of celebration, times of sorrow, and the times we just need a tune up! So if you want a place to love and be loved, becoming part of Grace Church makes sense.
What does it take to have a real loving Church community?
*Community is something we are intentional about, it takes commitment.
The reality is it takes God’s power, forgiveness, and love, and OUR efforts to have a real community. We are, according to Paul, partners in the Gospel, partners with God in bringing the Good News to this world. It takes both God and our efforts to generate a God inspired community. God’s Word speaks to this as it says:
“You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.” James 3:18
“They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.” Acts 2:42
*Community takes honesty, depth, real sharing, and no masks. It takes confidentiality. We can only be fully loved when we are fully known.
“Gossip is spread by wicked people; they stir up trouble and break up friendships.” Proverbs 16:28
*Cultivating community requires time, frequency, and the understanding that you can’t microwave it. Communities have the best flavor if simmered in a Crock-Pot.
“Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another.” Hebrews 10:25
This is why we ask you to commit to giving your: prayers, presence, gifts, and service.
*Cultivating community requires a commitment to: Protecting Your Church Unity!
Unity is the heart and soul of church fellowship. It is our job to protect it. As Pastor Warren points out: “Unity in the church is so important that the New Testament gives more attention to it than to either heaven or hell.”
“You are joined together with peace through the Spirit, so make every effort to continue together in this way.” Ephesians 4:3
Other people in the church will love you and at times let you down. But when they let you down, that is not the time to stop fellowshipping! They are your family; even when they are not acting like your family…and no one should walk out on their family. So God’s Word says to us:
“Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Ephesians 4:2
Our common ground is Christ, not a personality, not a program, not a worship service, it is Christ.
It is God who makes us all unique with different personalities and backgrounds, so we must value our God given differences.
“Let us concentrate on the things which make for harmony and the growth of our fellowship together.” Romans 14:9
Joining the Church Community
Why do you call it a Partnership instead of membership?
In today’s culture, membership implies that one, having paid their “dues” is now owed certain rights, honors, and privileges! Membership has overtones of a “country club” feel which is not in tune with the message that Jesus came to give. However, partner and “partnering” with God to make God’s will a reality here on earth (thy will be done, thy kingdom come) is Biblical and implies a sense of communal responsibility. For instance, Paul states in Philippians 1:3-7 “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Again in Philippians 3:10 Paul states “I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it." Later Paul states: “But I do all things for the gospel, that I [should] be made partner of it.”
Clearly “Partnering” with God in order to be a bringer of God’s Kingdom to this earth is the Biblical model that we are striving for, which is why we use the language of partner!
2 Keys to Partnership:
There are two central questions we ask of persons joining our church family.
Partnership (membership) Vows for Grace Presbyterian Church
1. Do you profess faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
The fundamental and core belief of Christianity is a firm belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God, lived out his mission from God by living as an example, and then ultimately died on the cross as a ransom for our sins. Furthermore, through the power of God he was raised from the dead, and as he ascended into heaven promised to send us the Holy Spirit as a comforter, counselor, and guide for living.
2. "Will you be loyal to Grace and uphold it by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, and your service?"
Our commitment to uphold the Church through intercessory prayer is based upon the fundamental reality that we are not simply a human agency seeking to meet human needs: we pray because we require God's guidance in order to be the church. When we pray for our pastor, for our teachers, for one another, and for those who may never even enter our doors, we express our dependence on God so that we might in turn express the will and compassion of Christ.
Our commitment to uphold the Church by our presence is a visible witness of our faith, both in the “pew” and in the world. Our relationship to Christ is nurtured by our presence in worship where we find spiritual guidance, comfort and strength. But our relationship to Christ is not confined to Sunday morning alone. We also uphold the Church by our presence at home, at work, at school, and in the community. Wherever we are, our presence should be an expression of our commitment to Christ.
Our commitment to uphold the Church by our gifts is a thankful response from the heart for all God has given us. Such a commitment serves to remind us of our role as stewards over what God has entrusted to us. The systematic giving of our money also helps to establish and maintain ministries that no individual or single congregation could fund alone. These worthy causes include hospitals; colleges; rehabilitation centers; food and clothing distribution; evangelistic and educational work, and emergency relief.
Our commitment to be loyal to the Church and uphold it by our service further reflects our commitment to follow the example of Christ, who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). God has entrusted all of us with certain talents and abilities, and sharing these gifts is a means of sharing ourselves out of love and gratitude toward God and love for one another.