Affirmation Guidelines FAQ



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Affirmation Guidelines – FAQ

Version: 0.3

For over four decades, Rainbow Hills Baptist Church has endeavored to reach our culture and community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As culture has changed, this community’s need for the Gospel has only grown more desperate, yet we are faced with the reality that, for the last ten years, RHBC has experienced a decreased capacity for addressing these needs. We are concerned about declines in attendance and baptisms. As the median age of our congregation increases, it becomes apparent that we are
not effective in reaching and retaining the young adults and families. Through much prayer and deliberation, Pastor Wall, the Pastoral Leadership Team, and the Vision Team have concluded that Kingdom Pursuit is not a self-centered question about the future of RHBC. Kingdom Pursuit is instead a question of the future of God’s people to glorify Him and is primarily concerned with the purposes of God.

For the past three years, God has been calling people to this same Kingdom Pursuit and they have been meeting as Hope Community Church. They recognize the community’s desperate need for the Gospel, but find themselves in a similar situation of having very little capacity to meet those needs.

As we both overlook a neighborhood of people who are dying without Jesus, we recognize that God is calling us to look beyond ourselves, to step out in visionary faith, to go out into the neighborhoods and homes of our community, to share the good news of Jesus, and to disciple them in a lasting relationship with Him.

The Pastoral Leadership Team has articulated a forward path that it believes to be the will of God, and seeks a commitment from the congregation to walk in it. While there is no absolute predetermined destination and the path itself is not clear in every detail, there are certain guidelines, principles, and necessary changes. While this path is presented in the context of a merger, they are the recommended course of action regardless if the merger occurs or not.

1. What is the purpose of the affirmation guidelines?

The affirmation guidelines will be the guiding principles that the two congregations function under during the next few months of transition. While the affirmation guidelines are not the formal constitution or bylaws for the new church, they are an affirmation by both congregations of the desire to move forward in merging together and the covenant under which both congregations operate.

If RHBC commits to these affirmation guidelines as Hope Community Church already has (Hope Community Church affirmed these guidelines via a unanimous vote on May 12, 2013), the two congregations will begin meeting together on Sunday, June 2, 2013. We will immediately begin acting as one congregation – ministering, functioning, and nurturing together. Over the summer we will work through the necessary steps to complete the merger, including the creation of a new constitution, by-laws, a doctrinal statement, and core values for the new church. The new church will take corporate action to affirm and enact these decisions. Tentatively, we will have a church constituting service on Sunday, September 15, 2013, in which we will celebrate becoming one church.

2. Why is there a necessity to move toward the creation of a new church rather than asking Hope Community Church to join Rainbow Hills Baptist Church?

It has become apparent in recent years that RHBC has had difficulty in connecting with our surrounding community. Why is not really certain, but, it is clear that our community no longer sees us as a resource. We have a great facility, we have a loving heart, but something is just not working.

HCC was started about three years ago. Her heart is for the very same area of town, and they have enjoyed success in reaching the lost in our backyard. However, they lack facilities, and they lack a sufficient core of fruitful, mature believers with the ability to nurture and disciple new believers.

Merge verses Assimilate: Leadership is in agreement that we need to merge with HCC in order to take advantage of the energy that is generated by the process. A “merge” enables the transformation we need. An “assimilation” would diminish in many ways the implementation of needed change.

RHBC’s current trajectory has led us to a growing awareness that our effectiveness in Kingdom Pursuit requires this action. This is the pressure that is driving change and it is not being influenced by the congregation or the leadership at Hope Community Church.

After intense searching, the Pastoral Leadership Team and Vision Team formally acknowledge the need for such radical change. Merging with HCC is a catalyst toward fulfilling God’s purpose of being a Great Commission church. A catalyst that will enable us to experience the depth of sacrifice that true discipleship requires.

3. Why does the church need to vote? Why is the church decision more about expressing our degree of commitment than our opinion pro or con?

Expressing our personal understandings of God’s will by voting allows us to make a formal church decision. The Affirmation Guidelines are set up to help us come to a church wide decision regarding the steps necessary to move forward with the merger. Our corporate action will make an official statement, that allows us to move forward as a church.

While it is important to consider things in terms of “likes and dislikes” or “pros and cons,” we must ultimately ask ourselves “what does God want?” God did not ask Abraham whether he was pro or con about leaving his home. He did not ask Moses if he liked or disliked contending with the Pharaoh of Egypt. God searches within us for a heart that is willing to commit, regardless of how we may feel. It is easy to think of church as a type of Christian Democracy, but instead as God’s people we must always seek God’s will over our will.

4. Why should we consider a name change?

The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name which the mouth of the LORD will designate. Isaiah 62:2

Transformation: Over and over again we see a repeated cycle of God calling His people to a change in direction and mission. When He did this, it was not just a slight adjustment in direction, but a radical change which transformed the person involved, and re-routed history. Abram was transformed from a heathen idolater to the father of believers, Moses was transformed from exile to the Prophet of God, David changed from lowly shepherd to King, Paul from persecutor of the of the early church to arguably its greatest defender. Often these transformations involved either a change of name, or a change in title, which signified a radical change in the character and mission of the person called by God. This is the type of radical transformation we see happening in our church.
Fresh Start: The people of our community have made a decision about Rainbow Hills Baptist Church. They have decided to stay away, ignore, and otherwise avoid us. Why? No one can say for sure. A name change will hopefully cause them to look again. A new name combined with a new emphasis on reaching out, building relationships, and meeting needs hopefully will merit from them a second look. Will a name change make a big difference? We don’t know. However, we are convinced that a name change is a part of God’s radical plan for the life of His new church
Connotation of “Rainbow” in our culture: The sad and depraved nature of our society has caused the term “rainbow” to take on a negative connotation in our culture that did not exist when this church was founded.

5. Who will lead the new church?

Currently, RHBC is being led by a Pastoral Leadership Team (PLT) that was formed by Pastor Dennis, and was approved by the church in the fall of 2012. This team was formed to provide for ministries, various functions within the church, and leadership, which was left vacant by the departure of hired staff. Each member of the PLT was selected from within the body because of their heart for God and specific gifts, which were needed to provide effective leadership. After the merge with HCC, two members of their staff will be added to the PLT. Other members will be invited to join as need arises.

Danny Price will be joining the paid staff of the new church. His primary focus will be in the area of outreach, which will take advantage of his skills and calling to reach out to the lost.

6. Leadership

The Pastoral Leadership Team is currently working toward establishing a leadership model which is more closely aligned with the New Testament model of a local church governed by an Elder Council. The transition from a Pastoral Leadership Team to an Elder Council will only occur as the church grows in understanding, appreciation, and commitment to a church model which is Christ ruled, elder led, and congregation committed. (We are using a book by Alexander Strauch, named “Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership”. There is also a condensed version, and both are available in the church office. If you want to understand the Bible’s teaching on elder leadership and why the Pastoral Leadership Team is moving in this direction, then you should read this book.) This council’s main duties include shepherding the flock and keeping it from false doctrine. It is intended to operate from a model of servant leadership rather than a model of autocratic or authoritarian leadership. It’s also designed to operate as a council of equals, and not have a hierarchy with a “Head” Elder and subordinate elders. Decisions come through consensus.

In practical terms for the implementation of ministry there also needs to be a branch of leadership which carries out the decisions of the Elder Council and the Church. We expect that each member of the Elder Council would also hold a position of ministry leadership within the church. For example, if a decision is made to pursue a particular missions project, the elder responsible to provide leadership to the Missions Ministry Team would be tasked to implement that decision. The Lead Pastor will have responsibility to oversee the day to day carrying out of the ministry of the church.

7. What is meant by the statement we are not changing paths but are going deeper into the path we have traveled?

We affirm that God has been leading RHBC into a God Exalting Kingdom Pursuit for the past four plus decades and that the trail we have traveled demonstrates the presence of God’s sovereign hand all along the path. Our current actions of sacrificial change are merely part of an ongoing expression of deepening the application for denying self, taking up our crosses, and following Jesus. This is not a new path we have just entered, but everything we are doing is built on the heritage of our past participations with the Lord. We value our heritage. The path toward merging with Hope Community Church and the creating of a new church certainly is a different twist than we imagined five months ago, but it is the same path, only deeper.

8. Why are we being required to sacrifice so much in order to fulfill the purpose God has for His church?

We are aware that Jesus’ purpose as Savior, Messiah, and Lord was established before the foundations of the world, but Philippians 2:5-8 reveals three attitudes Jesus must express before entering the world to fulfill His purpose.

Empty Himself, i.e., lay aside His privileges
Humble Himself, i.e., come to serve rather than be served
Obey at the cost of His life, i.e., losing His life that others might live

How deeply grace produces these attitudes in us will determine the extent we are able to fulfill our predetermined purpose as His church. The reality is that our purpose is of such enormous magnitude that nothing short of an ever increasing realization of these three attitudes will suffice. We praise God that He has given us a vision that requires so much sacrifice, so much grace, and so much transformation.

9. How can we be assured that once entering this journey we will go deeper into truth and not drift into error?

Structure, constitutions, and by-laws cannot ensure doctrinal integrity or orthodox practice. Rather, it will be the condition of the heart treasuring God, the condition of the mind being renewed in Christ, the condition of the will responding in faith, and the condition of the soul filled with the Holy Spirit multiplied throughout the entire body that will set guard over personal agenda. We must enter this journey joining God in everything and initiating nothing. We must discern between what we must change for the sake of the Gospel and what we must not change for the sake of the Gospel.

The church must affirm and practice that:

Christ has preeminence in all things and reigns without rival as the Head of His church.
Believers abide in Christ and bear the fruit of His life.
The Scriptures are authoritative in all belief and practice.

Only God can protect His church, therefore we pray constantly.

10. What will happen to Rainbow Hills Baptist School?

The school will continue as a ministry of the new church with the current school staff. The current administration of principals, vice-principals, financial administrator/registrar, and chancellor will continue.

11. What will the budget of the new church be?

The new budget will primarily reflect a blending, as opposed to an expansion, of the two churches’ existing budgets. The budget will continue to reflect our ministry priorities and focus as it has in the past.

Merger Prayer Requests

Name Suggestions