Cliffs Notes – April 12, 2022

Belonging to the FMCiC (it’s Biblical and therefore, Essential): Part 2
Last weekend I was in Harrowsmith and this weekend I was in our Madoc Church. Both are warm, and healthy congregations. In Harrowsmith, 3 little children danced, spontaneously and joyfully in front of the platform as the worship team lead us in worship. This said to me that, “in this Church we can dance!”. It was beautiful. In Madoc, Aaron, a teen, brought up a paper bag at one point during the service, and explained that I would have to do a 2-minute message based on whatever I pulled out of the bag. He also explained that when I was done, he would explain why he had chosen that particular object. I did my thing, and then Aaron read a passage related to the tumbleweed-looking object he had picked. I appreciated this initiative to engage young people in the service! This all made me think to pray and remind you all to pray for our Intergenerational Ministry Task Force, which is asking about how to engage with our children and youth.
 
A couple of weeks ago we asked, “What’s it mean for us to be a connected Church? What value is there in healthy denominationalism – Free Methodism in Canada?” Click here to read Part 1. Today let’s ask “Why should I become a member?
 
I hear things like, “I don’t need to be a member of a church, because that’s not in the Bible”, or “I’m a member of the universal body of Christ, and I don’t believe in institutional Church”, or “why would I need to stand up there in front of the church to become a member, when I already know it in my heart”. None of these comments, reasons, or excuses will stand against the test of Scripture. Let me offer some foundational truth before responding the “things I hear” when I ask about membership.
 
1. There are at least FIVE metaphors or images used in the New Testament to help us understand what “Church” is:
    • 1 Corinthians 12:27, Body of Christ
    • Ephesians 6:11-18, Army
    • Romans 4:16, Family
    • Ephesians 2:19-22 , Building
    • Ephesians 5:32, Bride

Note that all the metaphors used are about connection / relationship!

– For instance, when a healthy body part is not connected (or membered) what do we call that? We call it severed or disembodied;
 
– When a soldier is not with her unit when she is supposed to be, what is that called? AWOL or lost or worse;
 
– When a member of a healthy family is not connected to the family, what do we call that? Sad, dysfunction, or the like;
 
– When a brick is not in place in an otherwise structurally sound building, what is that?
 
– When a disciple, a Body member, soldier, family member, and sacred building material, is not choosing to be a member of the Church then what is that??
 
Therefore, in each metaphor, the integrity of the whole, the interconnectedness, defines the Church. The Biblical point is quite clear, that we are made to be members of the whole.

 
2. There are no examples of New Testament believers who are not members of a local church. Paul may be one, but his whole ministry was to start local churches.  Membership is the visible identification with the body of Christ (the Church).
 
3. Membership is a step of obedience to the Bible, as membership is a part of the Biblical pattern for church. In Acts for instance, we read that people believed (converted), they were then baptized (confession), and then they were added to the number (community – which we know was in many local communities a membership list). Membership in a community was essential, as these became the communities responsible to bury, marry, look after the most vulnerable, welfare, unemployment insurance, banks, etc. I’m sorry that church became much less than this type of community.
 
4. Jesus’ Church was not a group of individuals who simply attended His meetings, they were a community of disciples. They were called by Him, shared life, were counted as one of His disciples. The disciples were members of His ecclesia (or “church”), and members of the Church were disciples. Therefore, in Jesus’ way of thinking, membership to the community is a part of discipleship.

5. The book of Acts represents, approximately, the first 25 years of the early Church. For years I opened “Discovery Luncheons” with a 3-minute discussion about Acts 2:41-47 (these were quarterly luncheons I held after service on a Sunday, for new people – we fed them a light lunch and I took 10 minutes to talk about my local Church’s core values and vision). I read the passage and asked new friends if they would want to be a part of a Church like this. I can’t remember anyone saying no.

I would then ask them to reconsider their answer: would they really want to sell all their possessions, or have people know their needs, or meet daily?? Most did reconsider. We want community, we need community, but what we have created, Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace”. He wrote, “cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” Just in case you missed it, “baptism without church discipline” is a reference to membership – these naturally happened within the context of membership.

6. In membership we take a public stand for what we believe. We declare publicly and without ambiguity what we believe. Do we not want to know the doctrinal stands of those teaching Sunday School, or leading small groups? Or who are on the board? Should these leaders not make the effort to stand in front of their Church family to declare these truths? This is how the early church practiced membership.
I have met pastors and Christians who have told me that they do not believe in membership. I have only had to ask a couple of questions to discover that though they may not use the word “membership” or “partnership”, they do, however, practice it! I ask, “so who is on your board of elders?” “Well, individuals who have attended for at least 6 months, and tithe…” Sounds like membership. “How do you screen children’s workers – doctrine and lifestyle?” “Well again, they have to be known to the community…” Sounds like membership!
 
Membership is a beautiful thing! It is a declaration that I am committed to this church family. I believe in this church family, and I invite this church family to help me to grow, as I also invest myself in this Church family. It is both Biblical and therefore, essential.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN

Tuesdays: Cliff’s Notes
2nd Tuesday of each month: What’s Got You Thinking?
4th Thursday of each month: Church Health Thursday

ANNOUNCEMENTS
None this week

ORDINATION SERVICES
June 12 at 2:00 pm – Erika Mills – Blue Mountain FMC, Thornbury, ON
June 26 at 2:00 pm – Benjamin Platz – Next Church, Kingston, ON

NOTE:  Lorne Park Foundation sponsorships are still available for online registrations only
Tyndale University’s annual Wesley Studies Symposium on April 26:  “Sisters in the Spirit: Women in the Holiness and Pentecostal Traditions”: https://www.tyndale.ca/seminary/wesley-studies/annual-symposium
The Lorne Park Foundation (https://lornepark.org/) has generously offered to sponsor additional online registrations for this event.  This offer is open to both clergy and laypersons.  If you are interested, notify Susan DePlanché at [email protected] as soon as possible to be put on the list.  If you register through Susan, do not register through the Tyndale link.  This event is worth 6 hours toward Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

FOUNDATIONAL COURSES  http://www.fmcic.ca/foundational-courses/
Register online through the link above (Tuition payment is not required when registering for a course.  Payment is due 10 days before the course begins.)
Lay Ministers tracking for credentialed ministry and those transferring ordination credentials into the FMCIC need to take the following two courses for full credit – and if possible, the Heart course first and then Wesleyan Theology.

Heart of Canadian Free Methodism:
June 3-5, 2022 – Trulls Road FMC, Courtice, ON
November 4-6, 2022, – location TBA*

Wesleyan Theology:
November 4-6, 2022, – location TBA*

Also available:

Ministerial Candidates tracking for Commissioned or Ordained Minister are required to take the following two courses for full credit.  Those who are already commissioned or ordained are required to either audit these two courses for 1 Continuing Education Unit (CEU) each or take the two courses and complete the assignments for 3 CEUs each.

Culture and the Missional Church:
Date and location TBA*

Personal and Church Stewardship: 
5-week online course – Start Date TBA
(* These course locations are selected based on where the majority of the participants reside – so please register early!)

2022 SCHOLARSHIPS  http://www.fmcic.ca/scholarships/


LEADERSHIP SCHOLARSHIP PLAN (LSP):
The Leadership Scholarship Plan (LSP) provides financial assistance to candidates who are studying to meet the educational requirements for credentialed ministry, or for members of conference pursuing continuing education.

October 15 is the deadline to apply for LSP for any courses taken during the summer and/or fall semesters of 2022.  The 2022 application forms and instructions are now available to download from the link above.  Please use the application forms marked “rev 2022.”


SPECIAL SCHOLARSHIPS:
The Special Scholarships provide financial assistance to those who are members of a Free Methodist church pursuing post-secondary education to grow in their Christian faith, to those who are pursuing credentialed ministry, and to members of conference pursuing continuing education.

October 15 is the deadline to apply for the annual Special Scholarships for courses taken during the 2022 calendar year – apply online anytime from the link above.  Special Scholarships are awarded in late November/early December each year.

CONTINUING EDUCATION UNITS (CEUs)   https://www.fmcic.ca/introduction-to-continuing-education/
Ordained and Commissioned Ministers (except retirees) are to annually report hours acquired during each year for Continuing Education Units (CEUs).  Check the link above for information on CEUs, and a list of examples of many different types of life-long learning that can be applied as CEUs.

You can now send a report online anytime you have hours to submit for CEUs.  Here is the link:   https://fmcic.wufoo.com/forms/continuing-education-unit-ceu-report-form/

Note:  For those who attend the fall Minister’s Conferences or the spring Regional Gatherings, add 6 hours of CEU credit for each event when you send in your annual CEU report.

For those who took courses and/or did in-depth research and learning about how to make the changes required during the pandemic (ie how to live-stream services), add the number of those hours to your annual CEU report.

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CHURCHES IN TRANSITION
Interviewing

Hilton Beach, ON – St. Joseph Island FMC
Oshawa, ON – The Corner Church (Free Methodist / Church of the Nazarene)

Saskatoon, SK – Lakeview FMC
Thornbury, ON – Blue Mountain Community Church
Warkworth, ON – Warkworth FMC

Church Profiles available
Contact Davika Dotson in the  Leadership Development Office to request a church profile – [email protected] (deadline to apply in brackets)

None this week

Preparing Profiles
If you are interested in seeing the profile for any of these churches, please contact Davika in the Leadership Development Office [see above] and the profile will be emailed to you as soon as it becomes available.

Campbellford, ON – Campbellford FMC, (Rev. Jurgen Rausch-Transition Pastor)
Cloyne, ON – Pineview FMC
Dunnville, ON – Dunnville FMC
Frankford, ON – Frankford Community Church
Hamilton, ON – Rymal Road Community Church
Harrowsmith, ON – Harrowsmith FMC (Pastor Keith Deyo-Interim Pastor)
New Westminster, BC – First FMC
Richmond Hill, ON – Richmond Hill Chinese & English FM Churches (Rev. Louis Leung – Interim Pastor)
Sarnia, ON – New Horizons Community Church (Rev. Mary Lee DeWitt-Transition Pastor)

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
Pastor of Children and Their Families – Whitby FMC

Tearfund has a number of current openings for interns and students.  You can access their list of available positions here.

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