Team Ministry-Related Articles
PRINCIPLES OF RECONCILIATION
- Commitment to Relationships: A willingness to do whatever is necessary to develop relationships with one another across our cultural boundaries, with a commitment to endure through conflicts.
17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
2. Intentionality: The Purposeful, Planned and Positive Activity that Facilitates Reconciliation
1In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
3. Sincerity: The willingness to be vulnerable, including the self-disclosure of feelings, attitudes, differences and perspectives with the goal of resolution and building trust
1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
4. Sensitivity: The intentional acquisition of knowledge in order to relate empathetically to a person of a different culture
19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
5. Interdependence: Recognizing our differences, but realizing that we each offer something that the other members of the body need
4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.
6. Sacrifice: The willingness to relinquish an established status or position to genuinely adopt a lesser position, in order to facilitate reconciliation.
4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature£ of a servant, being made in human likeness.
7. Empowerment: Granting a person from another culture the right to engage in serious reconciliation through mutual repentance and forgiveness.
13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
PHILOSOPHY OF MINISTRY: ELDER MINISTRY OVERSIGHT
Our job as Elders is to equip and unleash God’s people for ministry (Eph 4:11-16).
We look for biblically defined/ applied areas of justice, mercy and gospel proclamation where God has stirred the hearts of his people through the preaching of the Word and the work of the Spirit to minister, and we look for ways to spiritually equip them for that work.
- If we see such desire for ministry unfolding, we start immediately looking for confirmation through God placing these burdens on the hearts of a number of people. If God is in it, we normally expect a ministry team to emerge.
- We bring these people, as a group, under the Sonship and Team Ministry Training Programs as the major foundation building tool for discipleship in the demands and pursuit of ministry. This is where we build faith- accountability- constructive conflict- prayer- kingdom vision- application of the Gospel- issues into the fabric of their ministry.
- We provide the spiritual oversight that is our “domain” by walking alongside these people to encourage their faith and keep drawing them back to foundational gospel/kingdom issues. We have to acknowledge the reality of the discipleship process here. Some folks on the Team don’t exactly get it, some partially get it, and hopefully, the leader gets a good part of it. But they will forget these things. When people go out and minister, they will lose sight of these core values/issues regularly, and we will need to re-address them with them again….and again. This is the main thrust of our oversight.
- If the ministry need warrants it, we look at the Team leader and decide to either bring people on Staff for the long haul (Music, Youth, Missions etc.), or, we make shorter term commitments (Housing Development; School; Adoption), if we think the ministry ought to stand on its own. But the decision to bring someone on Staff or not rests on this issue- will the allocation of the churches resources (through tithes and offerings) on a full time staff person enhance the ministry of the rest of the body? If the ministry is a clear response to God’s desire to establish justice and mercy and proclaim the gospel on earth; and if things fit the criteria stated above, we have, over the past eight years, responded by faith, and said, “Yes, Lord, relying on your grace, wisdom and Spirit’s power we will commit ourselves to these ministries.”
- We trust the basic management of the ministry to the believers God has raised up to be a part of the ministry team, whether through an official Board (NCDC, Freedom School, Branch House, NC North and South Ministry Leaders) or by the Team Leaders within the particular ministry, or by some combination that may at times involve an Elder. The Session does need to provide a broad oversight of each area of ministry to make sure things keep in line with the basic gospel/kingdom centered values of the Church; but we do not try to manage the ministry for them.
- If their are major moral or theological failures that emerge in the ministry team, we have the responsibility to intervene with discipline that may mean the removal of particular individuals or, even the restructuring of the entire ministry.
- Our oversight does not mean we expect to provide “problem/sin prevention”, “conflict prevention” or “trial prevention”. We expect that each area of ministry is going to go through a variety of trials that will include personal sin issues, team conflict and will (most likely) include financial “impossibilities”. We need to speak the truth of the Gospel into each one of these areas, but we can neither prevent them from happening nor always relieve them. Biblically, these trials are a part of the spiritual discipline God uses in all the lives of the team members individually and as a whole, to refine and mature their faith so the ministry becomes increasingly fruitful. By not necessarily “resolving” the issue (the paternalistic fix-it approach), and by not calling it quits (the frustration that I can’t fix-it approach), but by walking through the trials together with these ministries, is precisely how we fulfill our call to be good shepherds.
- If we believe we ought to assist during these trials in some particular way (financial or otherwise) and have the means to do so, we will. But our overall philosophy is to not tie all the needs of each ministry to the church as a whole. Practically, that means we do not wait until we have all the needs of one area of ministry met (the Youth Ministry or Freedom School or NCDC) before we start new areas of ministry. We work at being faithful to provide financially for the Staff Team Leader (if needed) and look for the Lord to provide in other ways for each ministry according to its real needs.
- The greatest risk for paternalism exists when we are drawing conclusions from a distance and from partial information, or misunderstanding our role. In a sense, we are not really here as Elders to decide which ministries ought to be in place. Our true function is to see where the Spirit is moving his people (in accordance with the Word) and encourage what Christ is putting on their hearts. That means the real decisions about the viability and continuation of a ministry – as long as there is no major shift from the gospel and kingdom focus – ought to come from those most invested in and at greatest “risk” in the ministry. The team of people most involved in the ministry; the folks who must live with the difficulties and have the greatest need for faith in those ministries; are the ones who must have the first (though, not final) voice in whether or not the ministry keeps going.
- Problem solving from the outside – either shutting a ministry down, or trying to step in and “fix it” can easily be paternalistic. The way to avoid paternalism: recognize our God-given, limited (though very crucial) role for what it is; or, if the elders really want to be a part of deciding what happens within a particular ministry- get intensely involved. None of this means our collective wisdom as a Session over these ministries isn’t valid, or that we can’t speak into their situations with authority or the voice of maturity and experience. It just means we recognize each ministry team is going to have to go through a lot of growth pains and learn obedience through what they suffer, just like Jesus did.
House Church Structure and
- Members & Participants at New City
The House Churches need to be seen as the main, normal, ongoing means of the people of God caring for one another. We need to help deepen the congregation’s understanding that the “church’s” care starts and is mostly carried out through the body of believers caring for one another. The Elders and Deacons assist, equip and help lead in this care, but the front line of responsibility lies with the members.
There are also times when a deacon, an elder or one of the pastoral staff will need to be involved with a family/person. In this system, no person, no matter how large the congregation becomes, is more than one step away from an elder, and no more than two steps away from personal care by the pastoral staff.
The House Churches are encouraged to be
- no larger than 12 – 20,
- always reaching out to new folks with the intention of spinning off
- by invitation only
- clear in their purpose of experiencing the Presence of Christ through worship, prayer, the promises of the Gospel through the Word and practicing care for each other
- connected to an outward focus of ministry
- mentoring future leadership
2. House Church Leaders
In order to make sure the House Church Leaders are being nurtured and discipled in their responsibilities, they are provided:
- basic training/mentoring in conducting a small group discussion and using other members gifts in worship and prayer
- a set outline of the meeting to make sure certain basic spiritual needs for the group are being met
- a weekly hand-out/overview of the Biblical passage for the week, including leading questions
- regular meeting with their House Church Oversight Elders and contact with the Pastoral Staff and other ministry leaders of New City to discuss vision issues, relationship problems, special needs, etc
The nurturing of the House Church Leaders takes place at several levels:
- mentoring in a house church setting
- regular visits to the house church meeting by their Oversight Elders
- a monthly gathering of all New City leadership, including time for specific meetings around particularly difficult issues, and specific time with their group of house church leaders and Oversight Elders.
3. Support Meetings for the Session and House Church Leaders
One Sunday night a month there is a 4 hour block of time set aside for specifically dealing with the needs of the body through House Churches.
6:00 – 7:00 available for any mix of leaders to meet over particular problems
(Eg. House Church Leader + Oversight Elder and/or Staff Pastor)
7:00 – 8:00 All NC Leadership Meets – Elders, Deacons, House Church Leaders, Ministry Team Leaders: for worship, vision, overview reports, encouragement so we know how we are all connected, linked and headed in the same direction
8:00 – 9:00 House Church Elder Oversight Teams meet with their group of House Church Leaders for “quality control” issues
9:00- 10:00 Pastoral Staff /House Church Elder Oversight Teams meet to discuss oversight issues