Thursday, April 12, 2018

Shepherds and Sheep – Helping New Members “Buy Into” the Local Church

The following is a possible outline of a discussion that elders might have with those who are new to the congregation that they serve and lead. It is intended to help explain the roles of shepherds and sheep and to help newcomers understand what it means biblically to be part of a congregation. It aims to communicate love, interest, and commitment at the "front door," as new people come to the congregation. As a result we will be better able to eliminate from the start many of the reasons people have for later going out the "back door," leaving the congregation.
From the Elders: Welcome!
We are so thankful that you are interested in working and worshiping with us in the ________ church of Christ! As elders of this local congregation, we want to provide everything we possibly can so that you may walk faithfully with the Lord. We also want to note the part that you are to play as you serve God with us.
On our part:
As elders we are told:
Ac 20:28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
Heb 13:17 says that church leaders keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account.”
We take this responsibility very seriously.
So we commit ourselves as shepherds to:
Be available to assist you in your Christian life, as shepherds would sheep.
Keep watch over your soul, so that we may give an account.
Provide faithful, biblical preaching and teaching in our sermons and Bible classes.
Provide a spiritual, encouraging environment that nurtures Christ-like growth.

Help you find your role and develop friendships in the church.
Are there specific needs you have with which we may be of help? What are they?
On your part:
Scripture tells us regarding the members of a local church:
Ac 2:42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
We know that you want to take your responsibility seriously as well. Please consider the four matters to which the Christians in the New Testament church were continually devoted.
The apostles’ teaching – regular attendance in the Bible classes and assemblies of the church. We encourage you to be present every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday nights, as well as other gatherings as you are able.
Fellowship – becoming connected with each other, sharing our lives together, and meeting each other’s physical and spiritual needs. We encourage you to become part of one of our small-group Encouragement Teams that meet monthly, usually after our Sunday evening worship. Members of the local church also give on the first day of each week, in part to meet the needs of brothers and sisters in the church.
The breaking of bread – Members of the local church meet on the first day of each week to participate in the Lord’s Supper.
Prayer – Members of the local church make it a point to pray together regularly for each other, for the spread of the gospel, and for the growth of God’s Kingdom.
In addition we see that each local church member is to be a working part of the church body.
Ro 12:4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
1 Pe 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Every member of the body – human body or church body – is to have a particular function, a job to do, that benefits the body as a whole. Each part needs the body. The body needs each part. Each part needs every other part.
We encourage you – and we will help you – to find at least one specific ministry in which you can be involved.
What are some specific areas of ministry in which you have served previously and/or would like to serve with us here?
We also note these instructions to members of the local church:
Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
In order for us to do what we are to do – keep watch over members’ souls and prepare to give an account to God – you are called to obey and submit to your leaders. In this way, we all obey and submit to God, with joy and not grief.
As we work together:
Scripture puts it all this way:
Eph 4:11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
We as leaders are to equip the saints – members of the local church – to work and serve in specific ministries that will build up the church.
All members of the local church are to have specific roles, as “every joint” in the human body has a function in the body. The body of Christ grows “according to the working of each individual part.”
Together we mature in Christ, and the body builds itself up in love. And all the glory goes to the head of the church, Christ Himself.
Again, welcome!
We look forward to having you work and worship with God’s people here! Let's get you started!

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