Church membership is more than just the ability to say, "This is my church." Every local congregation brings it's own unique focus and emphasis to everyday life, worship, and mission, and at the heart of that uniqueness is what we call our Core Practices.
Core Practices are the essential building blocks that create the foundation upon which everything that we do rests. These are assumptions, or strategies; when in doubt or unsure of what to do next, our Core Practices are the things we will go back to in an effort to better discern and understand what and where God is leading us. We have an inherent belief that as long as we remain steadfast and committed to developing, growing, and maturing in these practices, we will remain faithful to the call and mission that God has planned for us.
The words that we have used to describe or identify these Core Practice have shifted and changed at various times over the years, but the practices themselves have remained unchanged. Here are our Core Practices...
The Bible is the undisputed foundation upon which everything we do is is based. Through the words of Scripture, God reveals himself to us, teaches us about the gospel and the way to salvation, and shows us everything we need to live a godly life. Before we do anything, we must have a good sense of what the Bible says about whatever we may be facing.
One of the first things most people upon accepting Jesus as their savior is pray. And so it would be easy to think that prayer might deserve to come first, before Biblical Rootedness. While it's certainly critical that our faith point and push us to pursue God above anything else (even the Bible!), it's in the Bible that we learn and discover which God/god we're praying to, and how God expects and invites us to pray. While Scripture often results in a rather intellectual connection to God, it's through prayer that we form an emotional, personal, and intimate connection.
Koinonia (ie Community/Fellowship)
Similar to prayer, many people find one of the first things that pushes them to faith is connection to another believer. There's no doubt that relationships play a significant role in missions and evangelism. The reason for that is because the person who may have walked with you through that early "conversion experience" was, themselves, practicing Koinonia and our fourth Core Practice. Through Biblical Rootedness we learn about God and his instruction for how we live, in Prayer we foster intimacy and a personal relationship with God, and through Koinonia we come to see others the way God see them. We were never intend to "do life" alone; from the very beginning we were created to be in community with others. Through Koinonia, we have the opportunity for mutual encouragement, accountability, and teaching. We are always better together!
Most of the believers I've spoken with have consistently said that the one thing they want to hear more than anything else, when they enter heaven is, "Well done, good and faithful servant." This comes from a parable that Jesus told about Stewardship. Although Stewardship has come to be seen as almost exclusively related to tithing, finances are a very small part of what Stewardship is actually about. Stewardship has to do with being a caregiver or manager of something that has been entrusted to you. Everything you have, you only have because God has chosen to entrust it to you. This includes your bank account, house, car, job, kids, talents, and even your very life; there is nothing that anyone can truly say belongs to them or they have made, earned, acquired, etc. Everything we have is a gift from God, entrusted to us to use, care for, and manage for his glory.
A major prayer for 2024 is to see our church grow exponentially in each of these Core Practices. Throughout the coming year, we will be providing various opportunities, activities, and resources to help you, your family, and our entire church grow stronger and deeper and more effective at putting these practices into, well, practice.