Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Vision of a Simple Church--Bridge to Brotherhood

My vision is of a church solely committed to making disciples to the point that the chuch does not do ANYTHING unless the proponent of the event, program, etc. can clearly demonstrate how it fits into the steps of connection--community--contribution (or bridge-brotherhood--battle). Every church event or program must be a sensible chronological step in the discipleship process. The process must be clearly stated, movement is key and every step must demand a higher level of committment.

If people understand that there is movement and each ministry within the church knows where they fit within the process then it is easier for each ministry to encourage its participants to move on to the next level. The bridge between connection (worship) and community (small groups/house churches) is a new member class.

Rainer & Geiger found in their research that the evidence supporting a new member class is overwhelming! I can see why. A new member class outlines the faith, the system of the particular church and the discipleship process for each new attendee, which reduces anxiety, promotes clairity and obviously assists in the discipleship process.

My vision for a new member class is one based largely on 1 Corinthians 15 "What is the Gospel?" The class would explain the Gospel using 1 Cor. 15, as well as outline the discipleship process and introduce the staff responsible for each step. The class would also introduce people to one another and to mentors whose small group the newbies will be joining.

To jump ahead, the small groups will teach them how to read the Bible, the scripture's grand narrative, the vocabulary of the faith (justification, righteousness, etc.), the spiritual disciplines, etc. but more on that later.

This will frankly be easier to do with a very small church or a church plant because it would strain most corporate or megachurches even though they need it. I have ministered in 4 states and have yet to find a church, big or small, where anyone under 50 could accurately define a key term/concept like justification yet the pastors/elders/deacons of the church seem blissfully ignorant of their own flock's total ignorance!!!

In most churches, regardless of size, you would have to start from scratch with a new member's class for everyone and teach them the A-B-C's of the faith. Rainer & Geiger are right...new membes classes are vital.