I have four sisters, and although we were all raised by the same parents, we are all quite different. Most of the differences arise primarily from the things that motivate us and capture our attention.
As we were growing up, these differences in our personalities were the things that we celebrated in each other – we were different and yet part of the same family.
Thankfully my parents, much to their credit, never compared us to one another and although we were always encouraged to do our very best our “uniqueness” was respected. There was about as much chance of my winning a drawing competition as there was of my sister coming in first in a sing-off!
I think there are some great parallels we can draw when we consider the different kinds of congregations that exist within our denomination.
Quite simply, we have the same “family DNA” in common. Whether you are a small church plant in BC or a larger church in Quebec – we are all part of The Free Methodist Church in Canada and share the same core values.
There are other things that anchor us and bind us together as a movement as well. Our vision to see healthy churches within the reach of all people in Canada and beyond.
Our mission also defines us:
- To find, befriend and introduce seeking people to Jesus Christ and the fellowship of his people.
- Mature those who desire to grow in Christlikeness.
- Commission prepared people to purposeful service.
- Interpret life theologically.
- Invest resources strategically.
- Celebrate that God’s presence and power makes all things possible.
So, we know who we are and what are goal is but how do we accomplish it? This is where a congregations “personality” come into play. It is a creative combination of individual gifts surrendered and offered up in service with others that add to the outward expression of God’s heart working within a community context. How that expression manifests within the community will be different in every church. An idea that one body is passionate about, may not work in another. The important thing is that we are all working together, using our different skills and talents, moving forward towards the same objective.
Perhaps some of the stories that you will read in this issue would never work in your environment – that’s fine, our desire is not that you replicate an experience. Communities and people are searching for authenticity, both inside and outside the church.
Our different expressions and gifts need to be celebrated within the larger Free Methodist family – possibly, hearing these stories will spark an idea that will inspire your congregation to think of creative ways that they can use their gifts within their own community settings.
Recently, Dan Sheffield posted a quote on his blog from Elton Trueblood’s novel, The Incendiary Fellowship:
“It is possible for the Church to exist, with a show of success, and still fail in its essential function. It is always failing when it becomes an institution which is bent on saving itself.”