First News

The Heart of Worship

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The heart of worship concerns the heart’s response to God. If you grew up singing Matt Redman’s ubiquitous reflection on worship, you will have had the echoes of Psalm 51 knocking around in your mind. The psalmist, David, in a rock-bottom moment in his kingship, writes that God does not require mindless offerings but that, “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,” and that God will not turn away from a “broken and contrite heart.” 

I’m reminded of this often in the planning of worship services, being keenly aware of the tension between what we do corporately and how the thoughts of our hearts feed into it. Worshipping God isn’t limited (thankfully!) to the bounds of church services, yet the Scriptures paint an expansive picture of Israel, and the early Church, reflecting (or not!) the glory of God to the people around them, particularly as they worship. When things go disastrously wrong it is always traced back to the source: the heart (Psalm 106, Isaiah 1, Acts 5).

The good news is that God is gracious to those who are honest with him and orients them in the right direction. This is important. When we confess our own shortcomings, our worship is set in relation to what God has done, is doing, and will do through his Son, Jesus Christ. When David asks God, “open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise,” he is pleading to be set in the right relation to God so that he may reflect who God is to the world around him and reflect the praises of the world back to God. The heart of the one who comes in humility to Jesus, God’s own Son and our Saviour, will be renewed to its rightful place in relationship to God. 

May the words of our mouths and the meditation of all of our hearts be pleasing to the Lord, our Rock and Redeemer.

Ben Ewert
Minister of Worship

Posted by Ben Ewert

Why Membership?

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The idea of membership at a church can feel countercultural today. We might become members at a gym or community centre, but why should we become members of a local church? 

Here are a couple reasons to consider: 

1) To more involved in the life of the church. In the Baptist tradition it is the members who prayerfully discern together how God is leading the church.

2) To make a commitment to communityWhen we accept Christ and are baptized we become part of a new family. Membership at a local church is a way to affirm this. It’s a commitment to know others and to be known, and to choose help one another grow as disciples of Jesus.

We will be running another series of Baptism and Membership classes in November after the Sunday service. These will be held at the Wall Centre across the street from the church. Anyone considering Membership is welcome to join! 

November 7: 3-4:30pm (Baptism Class) 
November 14: 3-4:30pm (Membership Class 1) 
November 21: 3-4:30pm (Membership Class 2) 

If you’d like to know more, or to attend these classes please contact Rebecca at  .

On September 24, Pastor Filipe hosted a baptism at West Point Grey Baptist. See this video for Cherry and May's baptisms.

 

If you want to far, go together.

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About two years ago as we were creating the Discipleship Pathway, we spent time categorizing our church activities and gatherings to see where they might fit in the pathway. Most of what we do corresponds to one or two parts (the may have had both a missional and community focus for example), but one thing incorporated all four and was also open to every demographic of our church: Connection Groups. Connection Groups are neighbourhood based groups that meet to study scripture, to serve each other and their communities, and to simply enjoy spending time together.

Small group ministry has a long history in the church. In many ways the Early Church could be seen as small group ministry. House churches in the early years would have been common and scholars suggested that these may have been 15-20 people in size and would have spread to another house if they got bigger. These would have been places of hospitality, discipleship, and pastoral care. People would have gotten to know each other well - it would be hard to remain unknown in a house church! 

Centuries later, Martin Luther at the time of the Reformation wrote that those “desirous of being Christians in earnest” should meet in houses for prayer, reading, celebrating the sacraments, discipline and ministry to the poor. He didn’t put this in practice himself, but he believed small groups were the place for this to happen.

In 1547 a student of John Calvin’s, Martin Bucer, started small groups for discipleship in his city of Strasbourg. He believed that this was the model of the early church.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Puritan Christians formed small Conventicles which were small groups for the practical application of preaching. Richard Baxter, in the Reformed Pastor notes that these groups were even more impactful that even his preaching.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Pietists in Germany had small groups called collegia. Their focus was life transformation. They believed that studying the Bible should lead to a changed life. An example of this were groups started by Philip Jakob Spener who was a minister in Frankfurt. He started two kinds of small groups: one to talk about how to apply the Sunday sermon, and another group for discussing scripture and for prayer.

More examples could be given, but I find it so interesting to look back and see how small groups have been an important part of the discipleship process for centuries. I believe that they continue to play a key role in both discipleship and community building today! They can be places to both laugh and learn together. My hope is that over the next few years small group ministry is one that will continue to grow in our church. 

If you would like to find out more about Connection Groups at FBC please be in touch with me Rebecca, at .

In January we are hoping to launch some new groups if there is enough interest. Let me know if you’d be interested in participating in any of these, or helping to get them started. 

  1. Richmond/New Westminster Group
  2. Burnaby/East Van Group
  3. Kitsilano Group

Warmly,
Rebecca Thornber
Minister of Discipleship and Community

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