Life Church 101 – Discovering Life Church Membership

 

(4/24/2012 – under review in consideration of our revised vision, mission, and core values)

Life Church 101 is our basic membership class. You will get a basic overview of our ministry and explanations of the benefits and responsibilities of membership. At the end of the class, you will have an opportunity to sign a membership covenant and become a member. This is the class to take:

  • If you are interested in becoming a part of Life Church.
  • If you just want to find out more about us, since the signing of the membership covenant is optional. You are free to take this class as many times as you like without deciding to join.

Class Contents

(Click on a topic for more details.)

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Our Salvation: Jesus, Christianity, and Church

Our Four Life Principles

God Exists

God exists! – Genesis 1:1-25

God Loves You and Wants a Relationship With You

This has always been God’s goal. – Genesis 1:26-31; 2 Corinthians 5:1 – 6:2

A Relationship With God Must Be On His Terms

God calls the shots! – Genesis 2:1-25

God’s Terms Are: Follow Jesus

We must follow Jesus! – Matthew 3:13-17; Matthew 17:1-8; Hebrews 1:1-4

Jesus frequently told people to follow him:

  • Peter, Andrew, James, and John – Matthew 4:18-22
  • Another disciple – Matthew 8:18-22
  • Matthew (Levi) – Matthew 9:9-13
  • Rich young man – Matthew 19:16-30

Following Jesus is something that we do in a publicly verifiable way!

Following Jesus

Who Is Jesus?

You can learn more about who jesus is from our Jesus page.

How Do I Follow Jesus?

Following Jesus is a lot like following other leaders or trainers (e.g. exercise instructors, MCs, band leaders, drill sergeants, etc.). You follow by using your whole body:

  • Head
    • Brain: Remember
    • Eyes: Read God’s Word
    • Ears: Listen to him – Matthew 17:1-13; John 10:1-16
    • Nose
    • Mouth: Identify with him – Matthew 9:35 – 10:42; Mark 8:27-38
  • Hands
    • Serve him – John 12:20-50
    • Give
  • Heart (figuratively)
    • Repent – Matthew 4:12-17
    • Believe in him – John 6:22-40
  • Feet: Go tell others
  • Reproductive Organs

What Happens When I Follow Jesus?

Following Jesus has two basic results:

  • Salvation
  • Eternal Life

Salvation and Eternal Life – It’s Personal

What Does It Mean?

Salvation

When we talk about being “saved” we really mean “rescued”. Salvation is the process and/or the condition of being rescued from several things:

Sin

The word “sin” refers to the internal human condition that results in “sins” – the specific acts of disobedience to God that we commit. Its original meaning is to “miss the mark”, a reference to it’s origin as a archery term.

  • Independence from God – Genesis 2:8-17; Genesis 3:1-24; Romans 1:18-32
  • Universal human condition – Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:9-26
  • Adam’s sin is our sin – Romans 5:12-21
  • Jesus was sinless – John 8:21-29, 42-47
  • Jesus saves us from our sins – Isaiah 53:5; Matthew 1:20-23

Sickness

Salvation is good news for the physically sick. Jesus healed everyone who came to him as a reflection of God’s desire for our well-being and in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (Isaiah 53:1-12; Matthew 8:1-17).

God’s Wrath

God’s wrath refers to the anger that we deserve because of our sinful rebellion. Jesus saves us from this (Romans 5:1-11).

Satan’s Power

Our sinful rebellion has left the entire human race vulnerable to Satan’s power. Jesus saves us from this (Luke 10:1-20; 1John 3:4-10).

Who Can Be Saved?

Salvation is promised to:

  • The sheep (followers) who enter through the gate (Jesus) – John 10:1-18
  • Those who stand firm to the end (spoken to disciples) Matthew 9:35 – 10:42
  • Those who give up their lives for Jesus daily – Luke 9:18-26
  • Those who believe and are baptized – Mark 16:14-20

Eternal Life

Eternal life is God’s life lived out in us. Eternal life is promised to:

  • Those who give up everything to follow Jesus – Matthew 19:16-30
  • Those who love God with all their heart, soul, and mind and who love their neighbors as themselves – Luke 10:25-37
  • Those who believe in Jesus – John 3:1-21

God’s Grace

Our understanding of salvation and eternal life would be incomplete without discussing God’s grace!

Salvation Is By Grace

Salvation and eternal life cannot be earned. We receive them because we put our trust in what God has already accomplished for us through Jesus Christ and not by putting our trust in the good things that we do:

  • Ephesians 2:1-10
  • Tit 3:1-8

Grace Frees Us From The Law

Because we’ve been saved from God’s wrath, we are now free from trying to “measure up” to God’s standard by our own effort.

God is not mad at us – he’s for us and not against us! – Romans 8:29-39; Colossians 2:1-23

We don’t have to earn God’s approval! – Romans 4:1-25; Romans 10:1-13; Hebrews 4:1-16

Do You Believe (Have You Made It Personal)?

Believing

In the New Testament, the words translated as “believe” and “faith” come from the same Greek root.

  • Pisteuo (pisteu/w – Greek) – To Believe
  • Pistis (pistis – Greek) – Faith

These words imply something stronger than their English equivalents – Biblical faith or believing produces outward results:

  • Parable of the Sower – Luke 8:4-15
  • Abraham sacrificing Isaac – James 2:14-26

Baptism

The word “baptism” comes from the transliteration into English of the Greek word baptizo, which means to “dip” or “immerse”. It is an ancient practice. Although there are several types of baptism that are either referred to in the Bible or were practiced in biblical times, we will focus on baptism as practiced by three of them: John the Baptist (or Baptizer), Jesus, and the Church:

John the Baptist – Matthew 3:1-17; Mark 1:1-11; Luke 3:1-22; John 1:1-34

John, the Baptist (or baptizer), not the apostle, practiced a baptism of repentance that also served to reveal Jesus to Israel (John 1:15-34).

  • John’s Message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
  • John’s Ministry: Baptism preceded by confession
  • Repentance must be genuine – only genuine repentance counts with God
  • John is asked for explicit instruction about repentance.
  • John responds with examples of behaviors to stop:
    • Selfishness – he instructed followers to share resources
    • Greed – he instructed tax collectors not to “over collect”
    • Abuse of Power – he instructed soldiers to treat people justly
  • John presents himself not as Messiah, but as Messiah’s forerunner. (John 1:6-8)
  • Jesus approaches comes to John to be baptized. John initially objects, but then consents in response to Jesus’ assurances.
  • The Father declares his approval of Jesus.

Jesus – John 3:22 – 4:3

Jesus began his ministry by joining the people streaming to John for baptism. This baptism was unique. Jesus had no sins to confess or repent of, but he was turning from his previous lifestyle of obedient waiting (for God’s perfect timing) to a new lifestyle of obedient service – preaching, teaching, and demonstrating God’s miraculous power.

Jesus adopted John’s baptism of repentance and adapted it for his own movement (John 3:22 – 4:3). His disciples baptized people on his behalf and his ministry actually began to draw people away from John’s ministry. Finally, Jesus commanded his disciples to continue baptizing under his authority after his resurrection and ascension into heaven (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:14-20).

The Church Baptizes

The apostles obeyed Jesus’ command and received new members of the church through baptism beginning with the 3000 who became followers of Jesus on Pentecost (Acts 2:36-41). Christian water baptism reflects the four Life Principles that we listed earlier. In submitting to baptism we acknowledge principles 1 and 2:

  • God exists.
  • God wants to have a relationship with us.

In baptism we are also obeying principles 3 and 4:

  • We repent from relating to God on our own terms and relate on his terms instead.
  • By being baptized in his name we acknowledge God’s requirement that we follow Jesus.
  • We thus repent from our old way of life and commit ourselves to follow Jesus and to be publicly identified with him.

Thus in baptism, we do two key things:

  • Repent from our old way of life
  • Commit ourselves to follow Jesus and to be publicly identified with him

Repentance

The word repent in the Bible carries two meanings:

  • To turn
  • To change your mind

Your old way of life was one that you lived on your own terms. You did what you decided to do and you decided for yourself what was right or wrong. You can’t follow Jesus that way. In order to follow Jesus you have to change your mind about your old way of life and turn from it. At the same time you turn to the new lifestyle of getting to know Jesus and obeying him.

Public Identification With Jesus

Identifying with Jesus means that you want the people who know you to think of you as a follower of Jesus.

  • Required by Jesus – Matthew 10:31-42; Mark 8:27-38; Luke 9:18-27; Luke 12:1-9
  • Endure persecution for the sake of Jesus’ name – Matthew 10:17-42
  • Preach repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name – Luke 24:44-49

Identifying with Jesus also means identifying with his body – the church! People who follow Jesus come together as the church. You can’t love the Lord without loving his children (1 John 4:7 – 5:2).

Communion – The Lord’s Supper

In Communion we remember Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf.

  • Jesus uses elements of the Passover meal to establish a new practice. – Matthew 26:17-29
  • The Church continues to celebrate the Lord’s Supper – 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

Following

Following Jesus involves:

  • Preparation
  • Practice
  • Product

Preparation

Commit yourself to study for deeper understanding:

  • Who Jesus is
  • What Jesus said
  • What Jesus did

Practice

Put into practice what Jesus said (Matthew 7:21-27)

Product

  • You – transformed to be like Jesus – Matthew 10:24-25; Romans 8:28-30
  • You – carrying out your part of Jesus’ mission – Matthew 28:18-20

The Gospel In a Nutshell

The following passages present the good news of salvation through Jesus in a compact form:

  • Parable Of The Sower – Luke 8:4-15
  • Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, Lost Son – Luke 15
  • Zacchaeus – Luke 19:1-10
  • “For God so loved the world . . .” – John 2:23 – 3:21
  • Jesus heals a man born blind – John 9:1 – 10:42
  • Cornelius’ Household – Acts 10:1 – 11:18
  • Day Of Pentecost – Acts 2:1-47
  • Paul in Pamphylia – Acts 13:13-52
  • Paul’s gospel – 1Cor 15:1-11
  • Paul in Athens – Acts 17:16-34
  • Romans 10

What Difference Does It Make?

It makes a difference now

Relationship vs. Rules

There are two contrasting ways of dealing with God that we have to consider. We can deal with him via rules or we can actually engage in a relationship with him.

Rules

Most people seem to think of God primarily as someone who can only be dealt with via rules. Some of them hope to please him by “following the rules”. Others hope simply to “keep God off their backs” (effectively avoiding a relationship) by following the rules (in much the same way that we avoid a relationship with the IRS by following the tax rules). Scripture makes it clear that this approach is doomed – Gal 3 – 4.

Relationship

God’s desire for a relationship with us is a constant theme throughout scripture. He could easily have cancelled the “humanity project” after our foreparents Adam and Eve first disobeyed him in the Garden of Eden, but instead he provided for them. He ultimately provided for all of us by sending Jesus, the one perfect man ever to walk the earth, to suffer and die for us. As a part of that relationship we see:
God has a plan for your life that will fulfill you.
You can have abundant life here and now.

It will make a difference later

Jesus is coming back – John 14:1-3; Acts 1:1-11; Rev 1:1-7; Rev 22:12-21.
When he returns we will all face judgment – Matthew 13:24-43; Matthew 13:47-50; Matthew 25:31-46.

What Kind Of Christian Will You Be?

Cultural Christian

“Cultural Christians” are people who think of themselves as Christians primarily because they grew up in a church environment. Being in church gives them that “warm fuzzy feeling” and they assume that they are carrying out God’s will for their lives simply by spending time in a traditional church environment. They are often more committed to their church tradition than they are to what the Bible teaches and what the Holy Spirit is actually saying now.

Insurance Christian

“Insurance Christians” are “Cultural Christians” who are motivated to engage in religious activity primarily because they don’t want to go to hell. They often take the “rule based” approach to God that we discussed above.

Consumer Christian

“Consumer Christian” is a term that describes people who engage the Christian faith primarily as consumers of spiritual resources. They evaluate ministries and make decisions about ministry participation based on how the ministry serves them. They pursue ministries that offer a “high quality” experience (e.g. the best Bible teaching, the most powerful singing, the most exciting youth ministry, the best marriage or singles ministry). “Consumer Christians” will often visit multiple churches, Bible studies, and conferences in their never-ending pursuit of more spiritual support.
Unfortunately, “Consumer Christians” completely overlook the fact that Jesus taught us to receive by giving. They somehow never get around to sharing the gospel and making disciples because they are took busy receiving to actually spend time giving. For them, Christianity is like a shopping mall, a supermarket, or a restaurant – places where attractively packaged products are arranged on shelves for our procurement and/or delivered to us by smiling staff members.

Disciple

A disciple is someone who follows a teacher in order to be like him/her. Christians who are disciples actively study Jesus’ words and history in order to be like him and to do the things that he did. Disciples actually expand God’s Kingdom by taking the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to the people in their spheres of influence. For them, Christianity is not a shopping mall, supermarket, or restaurant – it’s more like a farm where they work with other disciples to grow the crops. The food in a shopping mall, supermarket, or restaurant is already dead and usually preprocessed if not ready to eat. On a farm the food is alive and growing. Disciples actively grow fruit for Jesus. They actively give birth to a raise new disciples!

The Church – It’s Family

The Church

What is the church?

  • Universal Church
  • Local Church

What is the universal Church?

  • It is built on the testimony that Jesus is the Christ – Matthew 16:13-20
  • It is Jesus’ body – Ephesians 1:15-23; Colossians 1:13-20
  • It includes all followers of Jesus no matter where on earth they live.

What is the purpose of the universal Church?

  • To bring everything under the headship of Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10).
  • Jesus has no “plan B”! If you don’t find your place in the Church you can’t be a part of God’s plan in the earth.

What is the local church?

  • A group of Christians who meet together and submit to a common pastoral team.
  • What is the purpose of the local church?

To represent God to the local community and to carry out his purposes there.

Our Statements: Purpose and Beliefs

Our Vision and Mission

Our vision and mission are available via the following links:

Our Doctrine: What We Believe

The key components of our doctrine are available via the following links:

Our Values: What We Practice

Our values are listed on our Core Values page.

Our History and Strategy
Our membership class includes a Brief History of Life Church.

Our Strategy For Growth

What We Believe About Growth

We recognize that many people from traditional church backgrounds hold some of the following beliefs

  • “If we’re really anointed unbelievers will come to our worship services and get saved without me having to do any evangelistic work.”
  • “It’s the pastor’s job to win my unbelieving friends/family.”

At Life Church we believe the following:

  • Individual believers are responsible for winning and discipling the people in their spheres of influence.
  • We can most effectively win the people in our spheres of influence by working together as a team. Our life groups are teams that can reach others with the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ

Who We Are Trying to Reach (our target)

Geographic Target:

  • Dorchester
  • Roxbury, Mattapan
  • Boston, Cambridge
  • Greater Boston

Relational Target:

  • People connected to members
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Co-workers / Business Partners
  • Schoolmates
  • People connected to the school where we meet.

Spiritual Target:

  • Un-churched:
    • People who are disillusioned with church.
    • People who have no meaningful previous church experience.
  • Churched:
    • People with a church background who want to move beyond the merely traditional experience.
  • Receptive
    • We evangelize the curious.
    • We disciple the hungry.

How We Plan to Reach Them

  • General Marketing
    • This website (LifeChurchBoston.org) and the LifeChurchMinistries.org website
    • Signage
    • Newspaper ads
    • Google Adwords
  • Formal Outreach:
    • Survey of un-churched people
    • Evangelistic Bible studies
    • Radio broadcast
  • Personal Evangelism
  • Life Group Evangelism

Levels of Commitment

Our growth strategy involves bringing people through five levels of commitment: Community, Crowd, Congregation, Committed, and Core. For a more detailed explanation of the levels, go to Pastor Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven” web site page .

Moving Through The Levels

We use classes and other forms of training to move people through the five levels of commitment.

Life Church 101
Life Church 101, our basic membership class, is designed to move people from the crowd level to the congregation level.

Life Church 201
Our Life Church 201 class moves people from the congregation level to the committed level.

Life Church 301, 302, etc.
Our “300 level” classes move people from the committed level (second base) to the core level (third base). These classes train people for service. Life Church 301 trains people to serve as life group leaders. Other “300 level” classes will train people for other areas of service.

Life Church 401, 402, etc.
Our “400 level” classes move people from the core level (third base) back out into the community to expand God’s Kingdom.

Our Structure

How We’re Organized

Sunday Service

Objectives

  • Provide attendees with a transformative encounter with God.
  • Enable attendees to worship God corporately.
  • Provide attendees with powerful teaching.
  • Provide mature believers with opportunities to connect with unbelieving attendees.

Members serve in several core ministry areas listed on our Get Involved page.

Core ministries work together to achieve our Sunday service objectives.

Life Groups

Life Groups are a core component of Life church. you can learn more about them on our Life Groups page.

Serving in Ministry

We recognize that we have visitors, sporadic attendees, regular attendees, and members. While the privilege of leading a ministry is reserved for members only, those who regularly attend life group — and members of course — are invited to volunteer their skills, talents, and abilities in serving. Regular life group attendees are welcomed because they have a relationship with and accountability to Life Church. So, if you are interested in serving:

  • Consult our list of ministries.
  • Get the approval of your life group leader.
  • Get the approval of the ministry leader.

Spiritual Support

  • Marriage Ministry
  • Singles Ministry (TBD)
  • Transformation Weekend (offered through The Vineyard)
  • Growth Groups (offered through The Vineyard)
  • Living Waters (offered through Bethel A.M.E.)

Who We’re Connected To

“Denominational”

Partnerships

Subsidiaries

Summary

Life Church Boston is a Christian church focusing on discipleship, cell ministry (small groups), and relational evangelism.

Membership

Prerequisites, Benefits, and Privileges of Membership

Our membership prerequisites, benefits, and privileges are available on ourMembership page.

Your Spiritual Growth

Core Process

We supply the following tools, but you are responsible for using them to build yourself spiritually:

Supplemental Resources

  • Bible Study

What do I do after I become a member?

  • Pursue spiritual maturity (e.g. by taking Life Church 201).
  • Learn to win to Christ the people in your sphere of influence.
  • Discover your spiritual gifts.
  • Use your spiritual gifts to serve others (e.g. by serving in ministry)

 

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