Now the the vision document has been posted, what does it all mean? What is Freedom Church really all about?
The answer is simple. We are all about reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, loving the unlovable, and connecting with those uncomfortable in traditional or even most contemporary churches. Looking around our community, the need is obvious, at least to those whom the Holy Spirit inspires to look for it.
The ones we are called to reach are considered to be some of the most challenging to reach. Most have experience with the church (direct or indirect) and don't hold that experience as positive. Some of those experiences have been perceived through the devices of the enemy but not all of them.
In the vision, we talk about the unchurched and the dechurched. The unchurch is obvious. They are people who have not been a part of the church at any time in their lives. This doesn't mean that they don't have any experience or contact only that they've never been a part of a congregation.
The dechurched, on the other hand, we part of a congregation at one time and, for one reason or another, have left. Many never accepted Jesus as savior and felt no real connection to the Body of Christ. Others left because they felt like an outcast. Many of the rest saw everything around them as fake, just another show. They saw the sins in the camp and damaged relationships but, for any number of reasons, they couldn't see the redemption, the grace, or the love that Jesus offered and often brought to the situations. The enemy works double it seems on anyone who leaves to keep them from ever returning and finding Jesus as the real and living savior.
The challenge of the dechurched is nothing new. An entire program was created to teach people how to listen to those who had recently left the church. It's a forty hour course called "Calling and Caring" and has been around since the early 90's. While I'm glad that my wife and I went through the program in '98, my thought is the same now as it was then; Why not listen before they leave? But I digress.
Regardless of why they're not connected to Jesus and His church, they are all in need of the freedom He offers. Hence, the name Freedom Church. We believe fully in the message of the Gospel as the power to set people free from the sins that bind them, whether their own or the pain and bitterness caused by those who hurt them. The liberty is there for any who would seek it no matter what they seek freedom from or its effects on their lives.
The bottom line is that Freedom Church will be centered on evangelism. Preach the Gospel in season and out of season and teach people to obey all that Jesus taught. Yes, we're called to reach challenging cultures within our community but that's what Jesus did. It's going to be difficult. However, with the Lord's guidance and help and as many of you reading this who feel lead to come along on this adventure, the power of Jesus' Gospel will set the captives free.
It's all for the sake of the lost that they find the love and Christ and be set free.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
This is the fourth and final part of our vision document. It deals with outreach and relationships with other churches and ministries. As such, it contains some of the most important aspects of how we're going to build a church for people who don't know how to do church.
Under the deacons, there will be several benevolence ministries to assist both the people within the congregation and to be used as outreach programs. Food pantries, clothing distribution, and other basics will be brought online as funds and volunteers become available. Practical help ministries such as vehicle or home repair, lawn care, or other physical needs should also be built.
Although conventional, invitation-based outreach ministries will be included, they will not be the primary focus. Individual witnessing, concerts, comedy, and especially off-campus initiatives will be a greater focus than special services.
An eye towards practical outreach programs, like Adopt-A-Mom, Fishing Lessons (Job Training), and multichurch effort is essential to the success of the Gospel in the coming difficult times.
Possible outreach programs will be explained in a separate document and can be started based upon the availability of leaders, funding, and facilities. Participation in outreach programs will be open to members of any congregation who wish to use their talents, skills, and gifts.
Relationship to Other Ministries
The unity of Body is paramount to the mission of the church to build the Kingdom. To that end, relationships will be developed with both like-minded ministries and those who take different approaches. We will be an example of brotherhood, reconciliation, and love between the diverse members of the Body of Christ.
Multiple approaches to media are essential to the communication of the Gospel and to the growth of a ministry in this modern era. To that end, the church will create and/or support multiple media ministries aimed at underserved communities. These may include:
Ø Internet Radio: Due to the success of Holy Fire Radio to draw listeners, we will re-launch the station under a new name with a new team. The music will be Christian hard rock, metal, and punk to include independent, local, and regional bands of sufficient quality. DJ's will be recruited and trained as will a station manager to oversee the operations. Syndicated programs will be sought including Full Armor of God program (Bro Scotland Kuba) and others of similar style. We will encourage like minded ministries to be involved in the station as an outreach. This cannot be a single congregation effort but needs to be an example of unity for the rest of the church.
Ø Podcasts: Jesus' Outsider will continue to broadcast and may increase to 5 days a week based upon availability of host. Other leaders and gifted people in the church will also be encouraged to do them with training if required.
Ø Video: In addition to the services of the church, we will produce promotional videos for internet distribution as a means to draw people to Jesus and to the ministry. This may include a web-based television program produced internally.
Ø Outside media ministries: we will offer financial assistance, encouragement, and our expertise to other ministries using the same channels to reach their mission field.
Media ministries are under the supervision of the elders and will be a combined effort of the Worship/Creative Arts and Outreach ministries.
In addition to the main targets of our outreach efforts, we will be a home for the artistic, talented, and media savvy to give them a positive outlet for their gifts. They will be encouraged to strive for excellence in their craft. The church as a whole needs their gifts as much as the more "conventional" gifts usually recognized.
The church will host and whenever possible host Christian concerts and other events that are in line with the overall vision of the ministry. To that end, we will work with local and national promoters to bring in acts that will enhance the outreach ministries of the church. We will also partner with other local ministries for joint sponsorship of events.
Besides concerts, other programs and conferences will be considered based upon the needs of the congregation, local community, and the neighborhood in which the Lord plants the church. The can include but will not be limited to men’s or women’s conferences, youth events, comedians, and dramatic performances or films. Each event will be considered by the elders after review by the outreach ministry department.
Overall, the church will be a character and nature that will set it apart from most mainstream congregations. Creativity, transparency, and openness will be encouraged. The Gospel message will not be compromised nor will we turn a blind eye to sin, but we will not judge someone because of the nature of their sin and indiscretion.
Leaders will be built and encouraged to develop their gifts. Opportunities will be found for those with a call on their lives to find mentoring, training, and to use those gifts.
The atmosphere will be open, warm, and welcoming. There will be no dress code other than to encourage modesty but style will never be an issue. Leaders will dress casually in their own personal style for all services unless special occasions dictate otherwise.
The full intent of this new church is to honor Jesus and follow His example of reaching out to sinners often ignored by the mainstream church and communicate His Gospel in a language and manner that they will understand and accept. This church will exist to preach the Good News of Jesus to the unchurched in some of the most overlooked and difficult to reach groups of people.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Part three deals with the basic structure of the individual ministries of the church. We may not be able to staff all of them in the beginning but as we grow, they will develop.
The department will be lead by worship pastor and includes worship teams, sound and video techs, artists, performers, and other creative ministries.
1. Lead the people into the throne room of God in worship
2. Maintain an atmosphere of excellence in creative endeavors
3. Add skills, performance, and other media to enhance the service and outreach efforts.
4. Produce materials to promote the Gospel, the ministries of the church, and communicate beyond the walls of the church
Each section can have an individual leader accountable to the worship pastor. Eventually, the other creative arts can break off into their own departments accountable to the elders.
Within the worship department, the worship pastor will have total freedom to train, equip, and develop worship musicians and leaders. Musicians will be encouraged to bring original music for consideration for use in worship, concerts, or other musical opportunities as lead by the Holy Spirit. Creativity will be encouraged and excellence the standard. Each member of the worship team will be expected to practice and improve their skills by whatever means necessary to achieve their greatest potential.
For more, see Media Ministries.
Youth ministry will encourage development of teens in a Christ centered, engaging, and relevant environment. Music, humor, and cultural references will be used to share the Gospel, disciple teens, and prepare the next generation to carry the torch of Christ to the nations.
1. Just as with the adult services, a casual atmosphere will be maintained. A real come-as-you-are attitude needs to be expressed by the leadership and participants.
2. Cliques are to be discouraged. Changing things up in groups, encouraging the embracing of people who dress differently, listen to different music, or other cultural/racial differences.
3. Events and trips will be subsidized for teens of limited financial means.
Just as with the worship department, the youth pastor and his team will have a great deal of freedom to set the tone for the department. Style, approach, and other factors are within the scope of authority as long as they are consistent with the overall vision, method, and mission of the church as a whole.
As with the youth, the children's ministry director/pastor will have a great deal of freedom to build a top notch program. The environment will be fun with a focus on building Biblical knowledge and a heart to serve God and others. Kids need to learn that the Biblical figures and their lives have lessons we can learn from today.
Other deparments and ministries are in consideration under the leadership of the Elders. These include counseling, Christ-centered addiction recovery, and concert ministries.
Because of the challenges of effectively sheparding a growing congregation, small groups will be established as part of the culture from the beginning. This will serve several purposes within the church.
1. Meet spiritual needs of individual members quickly
2. Encourage discipleship
3. Build relationships within the congregation
4. Build an environment conducive to prayer
5. Find and develop potential leaders and pastors and allow them to flow in their gifts.
Prayer is central to the church. The ministry will be approached from three directions.
1. Prayer for the people before/after service. Elders, prayer leaders, or others trusted in the role will be available in a designated area for prayer depending on the layout of the building.
2. Intercession during service: Team members will be praying during all services of the church.
3. Intercession outside of service. Individuals and groups will be encouraged to pray for the church, the un-churched, and leaders and workers within the congregation.
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
It's time for the second part of the vision. We're starting to get into the meat of the structure and style. There's a lot more to come.
1. Rock and blues music for worship
2. Relaxed, friendly atmosphere
3. Casual dress
4. Promote and practice a family oriented experience
5. Work with addictions, especially sexual
6. Without compromising the Word, create a non-judgmental environment. People will be accepted regardless of past, appearance, and other characteristics but will be encouraged to change through Biblical teaching, counseling, and personal example
7. People with strong testimonies of redemption will be encouraged to share them openly without censorship but focusing on God's grace and salvation
8. Fellowship will be encouraged including but not limited to small groups
9. Everyone will be encouraged to volunteer for some type of ministry but leadership will be after at least six months in congregation (see leadership/platform ministry requirements later)
Overall Leadership Style/Culture
Ministry directors will have a great deal of license in running their individual departments/ministries. As long as the activity fits into the overall mission, vision, and character of the church, they will have full authority to act. Directors are accountable to the elders and to the pastoral staff. A culture of freedom and creativity must be established if the church is to thrive.
Within the stylistic needs of the congregation and creating an environment conducive to worship, the Worship Pastor has full reign to create teams, train and equip leaders, and produce original music.
Musician will be encouraged and perhaps required to improve as musicians and grow as worship leaders. All musicians are responsible to lead the congregation into worship, not just the worship pastor/leader. There is to be an emphasis on playing skillfully before the Lord (Psalm 33:3)
Musical style is Rock but can include elements of blues, classic rock, and other modern styles. If the occasion warrants, modern country (not southern gospel) can be played.
All music must honoring to God while remaining culturally relevant to the congregation and outreach targets.
Service flow is as loose as time permits. Strong Biblical teaching, humor, and multimedia will be blended into a service that is unique, challenging, and draws people closer to Christ or into a new relationship. A balance of evangelistic teaching, instruction for growth, and calls to greater commitment will be blended so that everyone, no matter their level of maturity, can receive from the Lord in the service.
Prayer will be central. Teams/pastors will pray together before service. Intercessors will be praying throughout the service for the word, the hearts of the congregation, and for the Lord's will to be done. After service, leaders and seasoned Christians will be available to pray with individuals needing prayer. Positioning will be determined by the layout of the facility in which services are being held.
Nothing in the service is more important that the leadings of the Holy Spirit. Obedience to His desires and intentions outweigh anything else in the service. Worship, prayer, preaching, and other parts of the service can be lengthened or shortened as necessary according to the Lord's desires.
Basic Leadership Structure
Leadership is divided into Elders and Deacons. The senior pastor is the chair of the elder board but is also accountable to it as well.
The Elders are responsible for the spiritual development of the congregation. Each member is to meet all the qualifications in I Tim and be involved in the work of the ministry. Members of the pastoral staff may be elders but a majority of the elders must not be staff. All ministries involved in the spiritual development and growth of the congregation along with evangelism and related ministries are accountable to the elders.
Deacons are responsible for the physical needs of the congregation and the financial well-being of the congregation. Just as with the elders, they must meet all the requirements of leadership in I Tim and be involved in the work of the ministry. The church administrator/administrative pastor chairs the committee. If none, then the committee will elect a leader until the church grows to the point that a church administrator has been hired/appointed. The church treasurer is a member of this committee and can chair in the absence of an administrator.
Ministry directors lead their individual ministries within the guidelines of the Elders or Deacons depending on the type of ministry.
The church board consists of the combined elder and deacon boards. The church counsel adds ministry directors. Each will handle matters beyond the scope of the main leadership boards. This includes hiring or removal of a member of the staff, purchase of real estate, approval of annual budget, determination of salaries, or other large financial decisions.
Additional requirements for leadership, specific roles, and other leadership matters will be addressed in the final version of the church constitution.