Why Partner with a local church?
1. A Biblical Reason: Christ is committed to the church.
It is absolutely true that we don’t need to sign a paper in order to be committed to something. However, if for some reason we are not willing to go through a formal process to be committed to the local church, than we are forced to ask the question, “why”? What is it about a formal commitment that is scary or not necessary?
2. A Cultural Reason: It is an antidote to our society.
We live in an age where very few want to be committed to anything…a job…a marriage…our country. This attitude has even produced a generation of disconnected “church hoppers”. Partnership swims against the current of America’s “consumer religion.” It is an unselfish decision where we come together and formally agree to invest in each other.
3. A Practical Reason: It defines who can be counted-on.
Every team must have a roster. Every school must have an enrollment. Every business has a payroll. Every army has an enlistment. Even our country takes a census and requires voter registration. Partnership identifies our family. The leaders at Generation Church need to identify who is partnered with our local church and begin to spend the majority of our time investing in those people. Without a process to identify who is partnered with us, it makes it hard to know who we should be trusting and equipping with our time and resources.
4. A Personal Reason: It produces spiritual growth.
The New Testament places a major emphasis on the need for Christians to be accountable to each other for spiritual growth. Personal experience tells us that we cannot be accountable when we’re not committed. This process of partnership will help us with that. Committing compels you into accountability which in turn deepens knowledge, maturity, holiness and Christlikeness. In the end, partnership will be a means of God’s grace that will protect the unity and maturity of Generation Church. As a committed body, we will be stronger and healthier worshippers of Jesus.
5. A Leadership Reason: It defines Generation Church leaders.
Leadership is anyone visibly leading someone at Generation Church; this can be a community group leader, staff, anyone on the worship team, any ministry head, etc. The temptation will always be to put people into leadership because of need rather than qualifications. Not everyone is biblically qualified to lead. Partnership is the first step towards leadership, and it allows us to know who are candidates for leadership opportunities when they arise. For the protection of unity, it is absolutely necessary to have a system or process in place for people to work their way into leadership at Generation Church.
Is Church Membership Biblical?
The early church in Jerusalem counted the believers in the congregation. The church continued to grow, and “many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand” (Acts 4:4). The church was a definable, countable body. This indicates some concept of organized belonging. Paul told the Corinthian church that it was a body (1 Cor 12:12-37; see also Eph 3:15-16) and the Ephesian church that it was a temple (Eph 2:21-22). Paul taught Timothy to view believers in the Ephesian church as family members (1 Timothy 5:1-2). And so to function as a body, a temple or a family, a local church needs to know who belongs to that body, temple or family. In partnership, a local church establishes a transparent process for identifying who belongs to that particular gathering of Christians.
Paul commanded the elders in Ephesus to “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). Likewise, Peter exhorted the elders: “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers” (1 Peter 5:2). If a church doesn’t have a defined partnership, then for whom exactly are the Church Leaders accountable for as shepherds? To obey these texts, the church must know who its partners areThe New Testament portrays the Christian life as one lived out in the committed fellowship of a local church. Christ and his apostles call us to love one another, be devoted to one another, honor one another, instruct one another, carry each other’s burdens, admonish one another, offer hospitality to one another, bear with one another, build each other up, and more. “I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)
In partnership, we intentionally and publicly commit ourselves to a specific group of believers in order to live out these teachings in practical daily ways. Is church partnership biblical? It seems that a formal, intentional commitment to a local church is everywhere assumed in New Testament Christianity. Simply put, church partnership is a structure for putting biblical Christianity into practice for the glory of God