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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

Participating in Growth

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If you look back at your life, what things have helped you to grow the most in your relationship with God? 

Maybe there was a particular person who walked with you. Maybe your growth came from reading Scripture or by listening to a Sunday sermon. Or maybe it was the experience of going through a particularly difficult season that deepened your reliance on God. 

The work of God in someone’s life is mysterious in many ways. Mark compares the growth of God’s kingdom to a man scattering seed, but who does not know how it grows (Mark 4:27). And yet, we can look back and see ways that God has been at work in our lives. We have been shaped by, and grow through, the work of God’s Spirit but also by means of the people we spend time with, by hearing God’s story and learning our place in it, and through the habits of our daily lives. 

How can we partner with God in our growth? 

The church through the centuries has used habits such as Bible study and prayer to participate in this growth. Recognizing that we are also shaped through relationship, Christians have often sought out mentors and been intentional about inviting people to speak into their lives. Those who seek to follow Jesus are also shaped through service. As we choose to serve our neighbours we both grow in love for others and in Christlikeness. 

You can learn more about how we at FBC seeks to encourage discipleship in our community by visiting this new Discipleship Pathway page on our website.

As you prepare for September, I would invite you to think about how you might participate in your growth this year. Maybe you would consider joining a Connection Group? Or volunteering with something like Young Adults, Internationals or Street Ministries? Maybe attending a Growth Class or participating in a retreat? Our community can be a place where we grow together as disciples of Jesus. 

Warmly,
Rebecca Thornber
Minister of Discipleship and Community

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