M A R 20 12
Membership: Coffee and Commitment
love Starbucks coffee. I enjoy Starbucks so much I became a Gold Card member. Starbucks’ Gold Card program requires enrollment and faithful patronage. As a card-carrying member, I get a few perks, such as free refills, coupons and special discounts. I like to treat others with my card. As people decide which church to join, the default question is often “What’s in it for me?” This isn’t a bad question, but it may not be the first question we should ask. When we become grafted into the True Vine (John 15:1), we give up the right to be queens and kings of our kingdoms. We live for a cause greater than ourselves. This is a 180degree turn from our individualistic American culture, which doesn’t always make a membership card popular.
This month’s issue focuses on membership and includes articles from local, regional and national church leaders. Don’t miss the compelling story of Free Methodist Church member David Baker. We also connect you to our membership resources at fmcusa.org/membership and invite you to join the conversation at facebook.com/fmcusa. Is church membership still relevant? Does lack of membership demonstrate a lack of commitment? Join the dialogue. I’ll be reading your comments over a grande extra hot white mocha with caramel drizzle on Archer i Jason top. [LLM] Executive Director of Free Methodist Communications
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Membe ership Matters BY JEFFREY P. JOHNSON
n 2004, I invited some pastors in Guatemala to join the Free Methodist Church. After several meetings, I gave each a copy of the “Book of Discipline” and asked them to read it to see if they agreed with the Articles of Religion, the History and Polity, and the Membership Covenant. When we met again a month later, they said to me, “This book is our book; this church is our church,” and they decided to bring the Free Methodist movement to Guatemala. uuu
3 [feature] In 1997, several years before I invited the Guatemalan pastors to review the Membership Covenant, the Free Methodist Church changed it from a list of do’s and don’ts to a series of principle-based goals and expectations. It includes our relationship to God, our relationship to ourselves and others, our relationship to the institutions of God, and our relationship to the church. The idea is to create a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ by experiencing grace and truth within a community of faith. The preamble of the Membership Covenant says, “Members of the Free Methodist Church accept the principles of the Membership Covenant for their maturing life in Christ. Together they commit to obey the teachings of Scripture. Moreover, they receive the church’s wisdom as a guide for life. Under the guidance of Scripture and the church’s wisdom, they welcome the Spirit’s work to make them like Jesus.”
Not everyone was happy with this change. I remember showing the revised Membership Covenant to a retired Free Methodist pastor whose response was, “Well, there goes the Free Methodist Church!” The previous Free Methodist idea of membership was to follow welldefined rules of Christian conduct that maintained church discipline and a holy witness, and helped guide members into godliness. Leaders called these rules “prudentials.” People were taught that keeping these rules was living a holy life. For many years, everyone knew what you had to do to be a member, but membership divided rather than united people. Modification had replaced transformation; law had replaced grace. Membership courses were designed to produce acceptable social behaviors, but the teaching did not prevent legalism, sin management or holierthan-thou attitudes. Some people chose not to join the Free Methodist Church because of some members’ hypocrisy. My own journey into the Free Methodist
Church raised eyebrows and generated statements like: “You cannot be Free Methodist because you are too charismatic … too catholic … too different.” Someone even said to my face that I was a rogue United Methodist and would never be a true Free Methodist. I joined anyway. The Free Methodist Membership Covenant is one of the best documents produced by our church. It is about covenant relationships (Exodus 20–23), kingdom connections (Ephesians 4–5), community order (1 Corinthians 12–14), and holy living (1 Peter 1–2). It is a confession of faith that Free Methodists will be Christlike in all they say and do. It is a guide for the Christian journey based on the Wesleyan principles of grace, holiness and assurance.
Historical Perspective In a perfect world, membership would be the outcome of spiritual formation and obedience, but history has shaped the way we think and react about membership. The New Testament church inherited several prudentials from the Jewish faith. At the Jerusalem conference in Acts 15, these were redacted to encourage
[feature] 4 gentile Christians to grow in the grace of God. The Didache (an early Christian writing sometimes called “The Teaching of the 12 Apostles”) tells how the first-century church used catechism to prepare new Christians for membership through baptism, communion, prayer and fasting. Christians in the second and third centuries knew that joining a church meant persecution, torture and even death. Membership often led to martyrdom. When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the fourth century, membership shifted from a closed community to an open, fashionable institution. People joined the church because it was the thing to do. Throughout the Middle Ages, confirmation was used as the entrance to church membership, which church officials strictly monitored. The Protestant Reformation challenged the way church was organized and placed an emphasis back on justification by faith. New church groups were formed, and membership was used to distinguish different doctrines, communities and countries. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, stressed
covenant discipleship in the 18th century and encouraged his members to develop the character of Christ through holiness. In the 19th century, the Free Methodist Church was started when the membership rights of B.T. Roberts and his supporters were violated in an effort to squelch their challenge of the Methodist Episcopal status quo. The first generation of Free Methodists preached scriptural holiness and declared freedom in worship, freedom from slavery and freedom for all to serve in ministry. Unfortunately, second-generation Free Methodists at the beginning of the 20th century stressed an outward holiness. This led to a culture of insiders versus outsiders. In 1985, Bishop Donald N. Bastian summarized Free Methodist core convictions and helped launch the New Day Vision, which emphasized a “healthy, biblical community of holy people multiplying disciples, leaders, groups and churches.”
Solid Foundation The Free Methodist Church is not the only group struggling with its membership history and the way people are invited into a membership
The Free Methodist Membership Covenant gives freedom for those who believe and
expectations for those who are sanctified. It is a bit risky, but it is God, gospel and grace. covenant, but we have come a long way. For people to move from conversion to discipleship, and eventually into ministry, they must build their faith on a solid foundation. The Free Methodist Membership Covenant gives them space where love and faith come together through the grace of God. It gives freedom for those who believe and expectations for those who are sanctified. It is a bit risky, but it is God, gospel and grace. John Wesley always looked for
5 [feature] ways to invite others on the journey of faith. In the “The Character of a Methodist,” he wrote: For opinions, or terms, let us not destroy the work of God. Dost thou love and serve God? It is enough. I give thee the right hand of fellowship. If there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any … mercies; let us strive together for the faith
of the Gospel; walking worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called; with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; remembering, there is one body, and one Spirit, even as we are called with one hope of our calling; “one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of
all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” [LLM]
Jeffrey P. Johnson is executive director of Men’s Ministries International (mmifm.org), superintendent of the MidAmerica Conference and a member of the Free Methodist Church – USA Board of Administration.
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Sign Me Up
ost of us like to be a part of something positive, moving and fruitful. We like to be involved in the conversation and to be considered a valuable part of something moving forward. When something good happens, people emerge to take at least partial credit for the success: “I was on the ground floor.” “I was on the committee that shaped this event.” “I bought in before it was popular to do so.” Membership is a way to shape the most important institution in the world — the church. Being a member is a way of formally identifying with and committing to the church. It says, “You can count on me, and I will count on you.” Nevertheless, an aversion to the idea of membership has grown in recent years. Some note there was no formal membership in the first-century church. Although today’s membership process was not involved, I do not think anyone would contend there were not members of the body of Christ or community of faith. The protest is generally about a formal process of identifying who is committed and accountable to a specific fellowship. Whether or not a “sign on the dotted line” version of membership is included, the quest to identify who is committed to and accountable to the believing community is nothing new. This argument is rarely if ever plied with such vigor to property ownership of churches, ordination and professionalization of the clergy, or the use of the term “missionary” as a vocation — none of which existed in the first century. The idea of membership has Old Testament origins. Great pains were taken to define the community of Israel. The New Testament advanced the notion of reviewing what constituted the believing community. A sizable part of most epistles discussed who qualified to lead and to have voice in the community, who should contribute to it and how these things would happen. Matt Formal membership is a continuation of that conversation with an i Bishop Thomas effort to add cultural clarity and regional specificity to what meaningTo read more from ful belonging to a community involves. Membership is a way to say Bishop Thomas, “sign me up,” to be part of something significant, to have a voice, and visit fmcusa.org/ matthewthomas. to levy your gifts and abilities to help the community. [LLM]
S C RI P T U R E : 1 Corinthians 1:2 1 Corinthians 12:15 1 Corinthians 12:27–28
What’s a Body to Do? BY PAM BRAMAN
y body lets me know I’m getting older. Injuries take longer to heal. Weight goes on faster. My knees creak when I get up from kneeling. So why don’t I get rid of my body? Well, it’s the only body I have. If I get rid of it, I die. Then why do people say they can walk with God and be spiritually healthy without the church? “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). God has determined that we, the church, are to be the physical demonstration of Jesus to this world, but this body of Christ often seems to be like my body: injured, weak and creaking. Many conclude it’s time to abandon the body and do spiritual life on their own, but how is it possible to be in Christ while rejecting His body? Some say as long as they follow Jesus they are part of the body of Christ, regardless of whether they belong to a local church. But 1 Corinthians isn’t written to everybody. It’s written to “the church of God in Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2), a local church. “God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers,” according to 1 Corinthians 12:28, which implies a structure. The passage seems to suggest that belonging to the body of Christ is belonging to the organized church. How can you play your part in the body of Christ (as we are called to do) if you remove yourself from any formal connection to other body parts? A foot can’t do it’s own thing and succeed (1 Corinthians 12:15). I believe many people live as phantom limbs. They are convinced they are part of the body, but they have amputated themselves. Be part of the body, and be prepared for a workout. The body needs to be in shape for the mission of saving others’ lives. [LLM]
Membership Has Consequences BY BISHOP EMERITUS DONALD N. BASTIAN
round 1905, a young couple emigrated from Lancashire, England, to the rolling prairies of Saskatchewan, Canada. They were in their early 20s and thought becoming homesteaders in the New World would give them a brighter future than staying in their coal-mining village in England. Soon after they settled three miles south of the nearest town, however, the young wife became so homesick that, as she reported later, “she thought she would die.” In an effort to help her, the young husband got the horse and buggy out and took her to church on Sunday. The following week, the minister came out to their homestead and met them in the garden, but they did not sense a real interest in them. The next Sunday, they visited another church with Josiah and Esther u the same results. Then, on the third Sunday, they Jane Bastian attended a new white-clapboard-sided church in town. (Photo courtesy of The sign read: Free Methodist. When the minister Bishop Emeritus Donald N. Bastian.) came to see them, a bond began to form. In time, the young English woman was converted. She became a true believer in Jesus Christ. She joined the church. Members of the congregation came to their modest home for “cottage prayer meetings.” The couple found fellowship that nurtured faith and spoke to her homesickness. I am the son of that couple. Years later, I was nurtured by the same congregation. Converted at age 16, I joined the church. The denomination gave me educational opportunities, ordained me and put before me more challenges to serve the Lord than I could ever take full advantage of. Our children and grandchildren have benefitted too. How could my mother have guessed that presenting herself for membership after she came to faith in Jesus Christ would affect children, grandchildren, greatgrandchildren and even great-great-grandchildren? Membership in a church can have good, long-lasting consequences. [LLM]
Membership in a church can have good, long-lasting consequences.
BY MICHAEL J. METTS
avid Baker is one of the worldâ€™s foremost jazz educators. With more than 2,000 compositions, 400 articles, 65 recordings, 60 books and 59 awards to his name, he has also served many music-related organizations, including as past president of the International Association for Jazz Education. uuu
p David Baker conducts the Indiana University Jazz Ensemble during a recent performance. (Photo by Michael J. Metts.)
[action] 10 Despite Baker’s renowned career, he’s described as a “quiet, very loving person” by Mel Nead, his pastor. Baker and his wife, Lida, have been active members of Bloomington (Ind.) Free Methodist Church for more than 10 years. They were invited by Baker’s daughter, April Ayers, also a member of the church. Baker was born in Indianapolis in 1931. His mother died when he was 4 years old. His father was not a churchgoer, but his stepmother regularly took him and his siblings to church. “I virtually lived in the church on Sundays,” he said. The Indianapolis of Baker’s childhood was segregated. Ku Klux Klan members held positions of power within the local government. Baker attended Crispus Attucks High School, the only black high school in Indianapolis. Because black teachers were not allowed to teach in other Indianapolis schools, he was educated by some of the best teachers in the city, including many with master’s degrees. When Baker first attempted to play music, the teacher sent him home with a refund of the instrument rental fee, saying he had no talent. Baker didn’t give up, however, and became immersed in the Indianapolis jazz scene of the 1940s.
Inspired by his teachers, Baker pursued music education and has been teaching at Indiana University for more than 40 years. Baker is now chairman of the university’s jazz studies department. Baker tells his students: “I may not have as much talent as somebody else, but nobody can outwork me.” Attributing his successful career to God’s leading, he said, “All that I do is permeated by the fact that I’m guided by what Christ wanted us to do and be.” Nead considers Baker a great example of church membership because of his love for others. “I don’t know of anybody who expresses more graciousness, more of a loving spirit, more of an interest in other people,” Nead said. “That’s just who Dr. Baker is.” Baker also uses his musical gifts to serve the church. One Easter, he composed an oratorio on Psalm 22 and, alongside members of the church, performed it for the community. Because of Baker’s reputation, musical events like this are an effective way for Bloomington FMC to reach the community. “In this town, all you have to say is ‘this is one of Dr. Baker’s things,’ and you’ve got a crowd,” Nead said.
Though Baker has received many accolades throughout his life, he remains dedicated to teaching and service. In the foreword to “David Baker: A Legacy of Music,” a new book about his life and work, 27-time Grammy–Award–winner Quincy Jones writes, “The choice to dedicate one’s life to helping others achieve their aspirations is a mark of a truly selfless and kind person.” [LLM]
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Regional Gatherings Help Churches GROW BY JEFF FINLEY
ow can a Free Methodist conference promote fellowship and unity when it stretches from Montana to Illinois? The North Central Conference has found a way through annual GROW events, which allow congregations in each of the conference’s six districts to “gather to retool for outward focus and worship.” This year’s theme is “iPath: The Path from Skepticism to Christlife.” GROW events include speakers from conference churches (and occasionally from outside Free Methodism) plus breakout seminars. “I established GROW events three years ago as an extension of annual conference, because we have eight states in the North Central Conference,” Superintendent Mark Adams said. “There were churches that were feeling isolated.” GROW events were held Nov. 19 at Wesley FMC in Waukegan, Ill.; Dec. 3 at IgleFor in-depth GROW sia Emmanuel in Albert Lea, coverage, Minn.; Jan. 14 at Pine Grove visit bit.ly/ nccgrow. FMC in Loves Park, Ill.;
Feb. 11 at Central Community Church in Des Moines, Iowa; Feb. 18 at Motley FMC in Motley, Minn.; and Feb. 25 at Emmanuel FMC in Janesville, Wis. Speakers at the Waukegan event included Jim Charlton, the North Central Conference Superintendent Mark Adams (Left) chats with director of ministry Nestor German, the senior pastor of First FMC in Aurora, Ill., during a GROW event at Wesley FMC in Waukegan, Ill. (Photo by Eric Lorenz.) development at “I enjoy getting to find out what Alpha USA. Charlton serves on other people are doing — what’s the leadership team at Resoluworking,” said Jill Richardson, a Free tion Church, a rapidly growing Free Methodist congregation in Oswego, Ill. Methodist elder who attends Resolution Church. Charlton shared his practical definiBolivar Pena, assistant pastor of tion of evangelism: “presenting the First FMC in Aurora, Ill., appreciated gospel in a way that is understandthe discussion about bringing skepable to the listener and requesting a tics into life in Christ. response.” “Many times we are trying to evanGROW participants said they learned gelize the people, telling them ‘Jesus a lot at the Waukegan gathering, and loves you,’ but we have to show the they will encourage fellow church memlove to them first,” Pena said. [LLM] bers to attend future events.
[news] 12 WESLEYAN HOLINESS LEADERS BRIDGE DIVIDE Los Angeles
Leaders of the Free Methodist Church and other denominations with Wesleyan Holiness Movement ties gathered Jan. 13 for a Wesleyan Holiness Consortium meeting that united the movement’s traditional and Pentecostal streams. Participants included FM Bishop David Kendall and former Bishop Kevin Mannoia, the consortium’s chairman. Coverage continues at fmcusa.org.
LEADERSHIP JOURNAL FEATURES FM PASTORS Lansing, Mich., and Cincinnati
Two FM-written articles appear in the winter issue of Christianity Today International’s Leadership Journal. “The Love Apologetic” by Bruce N. G. Cromwell, lead pastor of Central FMC in Lansing, is immediately followed by “Reaching the Whole Person” by Katherine Callahan-Howell, pastor at Winton Community FMC in Cincinnati. Read the articles at bit.ly/fmjournal.
BIBLE QUIZZING GETS AN APP Scottsville, N.Y.
Pastor Eric Young, denominational director of Bible quizzing, announced in January that Free Methodist Bible Quizzing has launched an app to help quizzers and coaches. The app works on iOS (iPod touch, iPad and iPhone) and Android smartphones. Visit bit.ly/ quiziOS for the iOS app and bit.ly/quizandroid for the Android app.
FIRST FM LATIN SUMMIT PLANNED Tampa, Fla.
The Free Methodist Latin Network will hold its first national summit, “A Missional Revival in the 21st Century,” June 28–30 in Tampa, Fla. Speakers will include Bishop David Roller, Latin Network President Matias Gonzalez, Southern California Conference Assistant Superintendent Guillermo Flores, and Josue Fajardo, a missionary to Spain. For more information, visit fmcusa.org.
The Rest of the Story Want to find indepth stories of remarkable Free Methodists? Visit fmcusa.org.
We want to hear from you! Tell us what your church is doing to impact lives in the United States and around the world. Submit your story at fmcusa.org/ yourstory.
Providence in Haiti Two Years After Quake BY MICHAEL J. METTS
an. 12 marked the two-year anniversary of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti. “In these two years, there have been a lot of things accomplished,” said Jean Marc Zamor, a Haitian church leader. “We thank God, and we thank the international community, which has stepped up and helped.” International support remains important. “When you drive down the street, you still see massive tent cities,” said Linda Adams, director of International Child Care Ministries (ICCM), citing recent estimates that between 500,000 and 900,000 people continue to reside in tents. The Haitian people still have many reasons to be hopeful. “I don’t see any of the lostness I saw in that first year,” said Bishop David Roller, who visited Haiti Jan. 13–15. “People are living with purpose.” January marked another reason to believe in a bright future for Haiti. The new Haiti Providence University began classes, offering degrees in education, business, nursing and theology to its first class of nearly 60 students. Zamor, who holds two master’s degrees and is pursuing a doctorate, serves as rector of the Christian university he co-founded. “We have to train our students to be servant leaders,” Zamor said. “If we can For an in-depth do that, we will be salt and light to this article, photos nation and not only to this nation, but to and videos, visit bit.ly/fmhaiti. the nations of the world.”
Workers erect the first building at Haiti Providence University. (Photo by Linda Adams.)
The university has one multipurpose building and four areas of study. In the coming years, Zamor hopes to greatly expand the campus, open new areas of study, become more involved in research and grow the student body. Adams is proud to announce a partnership between ICCM and the university, which will provide scholarships to selected students from ICCM schools to pursue a college degree in education. Scholarship recipients will teach at an ICCM school in Haiti for four years following graduation. [LLM]
Glowing and Growing Together BY DAVID PRITCHARD
ave you heard the story about a pastor visiting a man who decided he didn’t need to attend church? The pastor, without saying a word, grabbed tongs and pulled a burning ember from the man’s fireplace. They both watched the ember turn cold. The pastor put the ember back into the fire, where it immediately flared to life again. The man thanked the pastor for the fiery sermon and agreed to attend church. Contrary to the belief that spiritual growth can be Outside of God’s attained in solitude, those who worship in a community community, there is grow through corporate unity. little hope for growth Christian communities worship together the God who sent and little help in His Son so people could be times of trial. made whole again. In worship and community with the Holy Spirit’s help, broken people build up one another as the body of Christ. The Free Methodist Church’s “Book of Discipline” informs us that members within the body are a people who “trusting in the enablement of the Holy Spirit and seeking the support of the other members of the church” make a covenant to grow in the Lord through participation in their church. Outside of God’s community, there is little hope for growth and little help in times of trial. Like a piece of coal outside the fire, usefulness grows cold and dies. In John 17:1–26, Jesus prays for His disciples as a people joined together. He describes Himself and the Father as one, and prays community members reflect this union within themselves. As a covenantal community, Free Methodists seek unity through experiencing God in both individual and social holiness. Through worship and fellowship in faith, this community will live in the reality of the high-priestly prayer through God’s grace and power. [LLM]
GROUP DISCUSSION:  How do you view Christian community?
 Is church membership important?
 Are you part of God’s royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9)?
Did you know there are three more discipleship articles on our website? They’re perfect for use in your small group or as a weekly supplement to individual study.
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[resources] MEMBERSHIP SITE For free access to a membership course and a Christian journey survey, visit fmcusa.org/membership.
Whether for exploring church membership or increasing Free Methodist knowledge, here’s help.
WPH’S FM STORE Find Wesleyan Publishing House’s additional FM membership materials in English and Spanish: bit.ly/wphfmstore. FM HISTORY Learn about Free Methodism’s past through the Marston Memorial Historical Society: fmcusa.org/historical. SOCIAL MEDIA Make friends and stay informed: facebook.com/fmcusa, twitter.com/fmchurchusa and gplus.to/fmcusa.