What is our purpose?
Barre Evangelical Free Church – December 1, 2014
To join Jesus in His work to make disciples by going, loving, teaching to obey God’s Word
and incorporating believers into local churches. We are on mission with Jesus.
“Joining Jesus in His work” – there are over a thousand different things a local church in America can do in terms of ministries, approaches, activities, etc. We seek to join Jesus in His work rather than thinking up things we can do for Him (or copying other churches) & then asking God’s blessing on it. Since we adopted this approach as a church body more than 20 years ago, we have seen God’s Hand at work more powerfully. We start with prayer (including visionary prayer, prayer for needs, evangelistic prayer, etc.) and then respond when God opens up a door in an area we have been praying about. We are also constantly looking for where God is at work and calling us to join Him. We encourage “pilot projects” for ministries. Pilot projects are great at confirming God’s timing/direction and allowing individuals or ministries to respond to Jesus’ call before others may recognize it.
“Making disciples” starts with calling people to faith in Jesus Christ. A disciple is a fully devoted follower of Jesus who is learning, worshiping, serving, fellowshipping, witnessing, giving and obeying God. The Holy Spirit is constantly at work in the life of every true believer to help them grow spiritually. This growth in character, world-view, compassion and obedience to God’s ways is called discipleship. Therefore to encourage on-going discipleship growth, we provide opportunities and encourage BEFC’ers to regularly participate in corporate worship, be in a smaller group of believers (Bible Study, task group, ministry team, prayer triplet, accountability group, etc.), serve Jesus using their abilities, giftedness & passion, be a witness for Jesus in the environment around them and practice the personal spiritual disciplines. We seek to come alongside new believers to encourage them in the foundations of the faith and incorporation of these five areas in their lives.
“Going” refers to our outward focus – we are “missional” as individuals, ministries and the whole church. We bring our Christian witness to the people and culture around us which often calls us to go outside our comfort zone and the four walls of our building. (One of the founding purposes of the Barre church plant was to “bring Jesus beyond the four walls of the church.”) It is to intentionally reach out to our community, our state and the world with the gospel of Jesus. This outward focus should impact all our ministries.
“Loving” refers to encouraging our love for God and our love for one another. Jesus said “loving God” with all our being (heart, soul, mind and strength) is the greatest commandment. We seek to encourage greater praise, appreciation, thanksgiving, worship, obedience, and service. Jesus said the next most important command is to “love others”, which includes people who are different than us (parable of the Good Samaritan). We seek to encourage Christian fellowship, generosity, diversity, strong relationships & loving families.
“Teaching to obey God’s Word” starts with our unyielding commitment to the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. The Bible contains God’s truth for us in life. We do not simply teach the information of the Bible, but seek to call people to spiritual growth & life change. Jesus calls us to obey Him; in fact this shows our love for Jesus. We rely on the Holy Spirit to inspire our teachers and bring final understanding to learners.
“Incorporating into local churches” is what early Christians naturally did. The local church is a local expression of the Body of Christ and God’s spiritual family. Because of our culture’s “individualistic” approach to life, it is doubly important to emphasize this aspect of intentionally encouraging believers to become fully a part of a local Bible-believing church which regularly gathers together.