Elders Letter Oct 2021

October 29, 2021

Dear Church Family,

This letter is the first of what we hope will become quarterly updates from the Elders. While Scott communicates often and effectively as our Lead Pastor, at times it is good for the congregation to hear from the Elders as a whole. We trust this will be helpful to you.

Board of Elders
Bill Richards and Mike Schubert completed their second consecutive 3-year term in office on September 30, 2021. As required by the FCC bylaws (fccgreene.org/bylaws), they rolled off for a mandatory one-year break, beginning October 1. Please thank Bill and Mike for their selfless investment in our local church and God’s overall kingdom. We are grateful for their faithful service and hope they will choose to serve again in the future. The remaining Elders are Chuck Bowlin, Carl DelSorbo (chair), John Hamilton, Mark Liebert and Scott Wakefield (the Lead Pastor serves as a continual Elder and member of the Board). As there are no new Elder candidates this year, a church vote is not necessary.

Why Church Membership Matters
The word “church” comes from a Greek word (ekklesia) that means “a called-out assembly or congregation”. In the New Testament, there is no concept of a Christian who was not part of a local church. Church membership was assumed for all individual Christians. In fact, the only Christians outside of the local church were those put there under church discipline, due to their sin. For more details, we encourage you to watch or listen to episode 7 of Brown Bags & Bibles entitled “Why We Should Gather” or the Great Questions Answered article entitled “Is Church Membership Biblical?”

Annual Membership Renewal
As outlined in the FCC bylaws (fccgreene.org/bylaws), we are required to bring the membership roll up to date on an annual basis. Historically, members have only needed to affirm this public declaration: "I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and my Lord and Savior." In addition, for many years, all Elders, Pastors, Staff, and Teachers have also been required to affirm FCC’s Confession of Faith. This Confession of Faith is a short summary of the orthodox teachings of the Christian faith. FCC’s teaching and ministry is rooted in and flows out of these biblical doctrines. This year the Elders have decided to extend this same requirement to all members. We believe it is irresponsible and dangerous to encourage our members to affirm so little, when the Bible itself is quite rigorous regarding what a Christian should believe.

By way of clarification, we are not saying that you must agree with every one of these beliefs in order to be a Christian. However, the Confession of Faith represents the Elders’ understanding of Scripture, and we have a responsibility to shepherd our members accordingly. Consequently, if you disagree with anything, but desire to be a member and serve with us, we ask that you agree to not teach against, promote or practice otherwise within our body. We also ask that you identify what area(s) you may have disagreement with so further discussion with the Elders can occur before starting or renewing membership.

You can find the Confession of Faith at fccgreene.org/beliefs and our Membership process detailed at fccgreene.org/membership. The Annual Membership Renewal will be available online and in print during the month of January 2022.

The First 3 Habits
Being a member is a good start, but it only “works” if you’re meaningfully participating in the first 3 of our 7 Habits: Engage in worship, Serve on the team, and Connect in a small group. These are critical to your Christian growth and joy.
  1. Showing up consistently on Sunday morning has been called the “Ministry of Presence” because it encourages both you and those around you. Worshiping online is an option when you are unable to join in person. However, it is a poor substitute for the actual gathering of the people of God to worship together physically (Heb. 10:25).
  2. Serving in any capacity strengthens both you and the body as a whole. God designed the church like a body so that each individual has something to contribute to the whole (1 Cor 12:7). When you serve others in the local church, you discover the joy of being used by God for the growth of the body in love (Eph. 4:15-16).
  3. Connecting in a small group is essential when the church is large and scattered geographically. Scott, Tyson and Tommy are faithful men of God, but they cannot serve as each individual congregant’s personal shepherd and caregiver. Scripture calls us to “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2) and to “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed (James 5:16). This only happens well when we are fully known and loved in the context of a serve team and small group.

Service Times & Flow
A change to both the start times and flow of the Sunday service will occur beginning Sunday, December 12 with the start of our Christmas sermon series. The new start times will be 9a and 10:30a for first and second services, respectively. Slight service structure changes will include moving communion prior to the sermon. These changes to both the start times and structure are being made for several reasons:
  • provide 5 extra minutes of service time,
  • provide additional opportunities for the Campus Pastors to lead the congregation through the service,
  • put more emphasis on communion and corporate worship,
  • allow further time for fellowship between services for the building of community,
  • allocate time for the 10-minute Next Steps introductory session near the end of the service, and
  • continue to build a service model that will best translate across multiple campuses.

The Covid pandemic has been a particularly difficult time for both health care workers and those in church leadership. Frankly, everyone seems to have an opinion on what should or should not be done, and it’s easy to be critical of the decisions that others make. We are grateful for those who serve our community’s physical and spiritual needs, despite the ongoing struggle with this disease. If you call FCC your church home, our prayer is that you “...walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV). For more details, we encourage you to watch or listen to episode 8 of Brown Bags & Bibles entitled “How To Interact Online”.

May God strengthen you daily for the task of bringing glory to His name. It is our joy and privilege to serve alongside and pray for you.

The Elders of First Christian Church: Chuck Bowlin, Carl DelSorbo, John Hamilton, Mark Liebert, Scott Wakefield
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