Friday, August 03, 2007

one church, many congregations and one member

I wrote the blurb below for our church newsletter today. I post it here because it gives some insight into our life and into how we are reworking traditional concepts like church membership into our multi-congregational approach. Note also that there’s a whole lot more thinking about how to innovate and free mission within existing systems that lies behind the multi-congregational approach. For us, its not a formula, but a way of pursuing the mission of God.

At Opawa Baptist we are one church with multiple congregations. I find it helpful to think of it as an umbrella, a shared handle and a shared shelter, under which different congregations huddle. We are one church as we share vision and values, pastoral leadership, all-church events, teaching, shared prayer, growth coaching and training, etc.

Under this one umbrella different congregations can stand. A congregation is seen as a place to develop community, to grow in Christian life to the full and to extend Jesus love. A congregation will express these values in different and unique ways. For example, people grow in Christian life through sermons on a Sunday morning, or through engaging with art at Side Door or entering into discussion at Espresso, or hymns and soup at the Hymn congregation.

Practically, at a church forum in 2004, we noted that this would mean:
1. Working at all-church celebrations that gather the whole church.
2. Building discipling and pastoral structures that could fit any congregation.
3. A newsletter suitable for all congregations.
4. Members are welcomed and people are baptized in either their congregation or at all-church celebrations, with the use of technology to share highlights from other congregations e.g. baptisms, membership.
5. All congregations seen as equally valid.
6. All congregations have appropriate ways to contribute financially to the whole.

I note this because Tuesday night will include a historic moment for our espresso congregation, as it welcomes IM as a church member. Other church members attend espresso, but this is the first time someone has been welcomed into Opawa Baptist membership at espresso.

Why welcome IM at Espresso? Because espresso is the congregation by which IM found his way into Opawa. Equally, for IM, becoming a church member is an expression of his sense of belonging to the whole Opawa church.

For more on our multi-congregational model go here.
For information on each congregation, check down the sidebar here or here.

Posted by steve at 01:34 PM

1 Comment

  1. Forgive the me-too response here . . .

    THAT’S INCREDIBLY COOL! Congrats on the fruit of what seems like some difficult and deliberate labor!


    Comment by David Malouf — August 4, 2007 @ 5:43 am

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