So, just who are Raunds Community Church and what’s it all about?
Who are we?
The Church's Vision
Why does Raunds Community Church exist?
We are a group of people who share a belief in Jesus and our salvation through his death and resurrection and in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We come together to express our commitment to Jesus and to each other and to grow in love for and understanding of Father God.
We see ourselves as a “body” or “family” together, with Jesus Christ as our head: Colossians 1:18 “And he (Jesus) is the head of the body, the church….”
If Jesus is the head of our family, then we should follow all his commands, as a demonstration of our obedience to him. In particular, however, together we will:
Mark 12:30 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your strength”…..and…..”Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these”.
Matthew 6:33 “…..seek first his kingdom…..”
We seek to know God and to allow him to be king in our lives and to reign over us as we lead holy and righteous lives before him and each other.
TELL OF GOD:
Matthew 28: 19-20: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them…..and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”.
We want to see our family grow, by spreading the good news of salvation in Christ in and around Raunds and Stanwick, and by showing God’s love through practical social action to serve the community.
Commitment. What does it mean?
We feel that it would be helpful to define clearly what is meant by commitment and membership of church as expressed in Raunds Community Church. We want also to be clear about the vision of the church and to set it down.
It will also help people who are considering getting involved with the church but want to know what that will mean.
The biblical references are important because in everything we do, scripture is our touchstone: 2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”.
The Leadership Team
Since its beginnings, Raunds Community Church has been an association of friends who, as a result of our commitment to Christ, have also committed ourselves to one another.
1 John 4:11 “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”.
We recognise that it is impossible to be committed to Jesus without also being committed to his purposes. His purposes are worked out through his living body – which is the church. We have therefore sought in all aspects of our lives, to express the unity, harmonious relationships and diversity of function which constitutes the “body of Christ”.
Romans 12:4-5 “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us”.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptised by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and all were given the one Spirit to drink”.
The church, just like a family, is a covenant community. This does not mean that we should live in communes but it does mean that we are conscious of being a community – hence our name.
Knowing that Jesus has expressed his committed love for the church by giving his life blood,
Luke 22:20 “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which id poured out for you”,
we express our love for one another by:
- speaking well of each other
- defending and protecting one another
- being faithful and walking in the light with one another
- allowing nothing to bring separation between us.
1 Corinthians 11:29 “For anyone who eats and drinks without recognising the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself”.
1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin”.
James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”.
We also believe that Christ is looking for committed groups of people to represent him in society. The stamp of these groups will be:
- their acknowledgment of Jesus as Lord
- reliance on the love and grace of God
- acceptance of the authority of scripture
- fellowship and friendship found with one another through the Holy Spirit
This involves an open sharing of our lives with one another so that together we grow in maturity and understanding, being equipped for the works of service that Christ requires of us.
Ephesians 4:12-13 “…..to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”.
These same foundational principles are still an essential part of what it means to belong to and be committed to the church.
Our understanding of the many forms of commitment is now outlined.
COMMITTED TO JESUS
As we have already said, the fundamental thing that binds us together is that we are committed to Jesus. By that we mean that we acknowledge Jesus as Lord of our lives, and intend to live life his way.
1 John 2:3-6 “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands…..if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did”.
COMMITTED TO LOVE
In his letters, Paul describes the church of Christ as a body, separate parts, each with a role, held together by the ligaments of love.
Ephesians 4:15-16 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work”.
Colossians 2:19 “…..the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow”.
These ligaments of love are the friendship and commitment we have to one another. Without the love of God, the church cannot live as Christ intended it.
John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”.
Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves”.
COMMITTED TO SERVE
In practical terms the expression of this love means a willingness to serve. We are called to be servants, to put others’ interests above our own.
Galatians 5:13 “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather, serve one another in love”.
1 John 3:16 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers”.
Matthew 10:39 “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”.
Servanthood is the mark of Christlikeness. In the church there are many practical areas where people are needed to serve. Everyone is therefore encouraged to find a place to serve.
COMMITTED TO CARE
The network of relationships which holds the church together is expressed most clearly in the area of pastoral care.
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”.
1 Corinthians 12:25 “…..so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other”.
Whilst the whole church is called to care, particular men and women in the church will be recognised for their pastoral gift. These people accept responsibility before God; and exercise the practical care that Jesus requires in his body – this is sometimes called “shepherding”:
Acts 20:28 “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood”.
Of course, whilst the leadership team in the church are always available for advice, each one of us has to carry responsibility for our own lives. The load can be shared but not transferred.
Galatians 6:2-5 “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load”.
COMMITTED TO LEADERSHIP
Leadership is a gift but also a responsibility. The Scriptures therefore require us to be
accountable to leadership and to seek to make their task an easier one.
Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you”.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other”.
The body of Christ functions by the act of submission one to another.
Ephesians 5:21 “Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ”.
Authority is given to leaders to serve, not to lord it over others.
Matthew 20:25-26 “Jesus called them together and said “You know that the leaders of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you”…..”.
COMMITTED TO THE VISION
The vision of our church is set out at the beginning of this statement. We are called to embrace and work towards the fulfilment of that corporate vision.
Proverbs 29:18 “So where there is no vision the people perish”.
COMMITTED TO UNITY
The fulfilment of the tasks God has set before us can only be achieved as we work together in unity.
Romans 15:5 “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus”.
Romans 16:17 “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them”.
Acts 4:32 “All the believers were one in heart and mind”.
COMMITTED TO MEET
Some meetings of the church may not be relevant, or there may sometimes be situations where family commitments have to be considered. However, the Bible does warn us not to neglect the importance of meeting together with fellow believers.
Hebrews 10:25 “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching”.
It is difficult to place a priority on our meetings, but as a leadership team we ask you to do everything you can to attend our church meetings – the Sunday morning meeting and other gatherings. If this presents a special difficulty for you because of your circumstances you can always talk this through with someone on the leadership team.
COMMITTED TO LEARN
This means a teachable and submissive attitude to one another and willingness to learn. It is the mark of a disciple.
Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God”.
COMMITTED TO GIVE
This means generosity of heart and spirit reflected in hospitality:
1 Peter 4:9-10 “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms”,
and in financial giving. Tithing (giving God the first tenth of our income) is not an unwritten condition of membership. We do, however, expect a financial commitment from those who share our vision and regard themselves as part of the family. That is only normal and to be expected: like any family, we have our housekeeping expenses and therefore regular committed giving is an essential part of the ongoing life of the church.
We recognise that the New Testament teaches that everything we possess belongs to the Lord – a principle of giving that goes far beyond the Old Testament tithe alone. Nevertheless, the principle of setting aside a tithe for the work of the church and its ministry has proved to be a good guideline and starting point, and we commend this for everyone’s consideration.
Luke 14:33 “…..in the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple”.
2 Corinthians 8:1-3,5 “We want you to know about the grace that God has given to the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, end even beyond their ability…..they gave themselves first to the Lord”.
The actual level of giving is a matter between each individual and God. With finances, the important principle, as with every other area of our lives, is that this can be talked about openly and honestly, in the context of a relationship of mutual trust and confidence. If we receive no income, or face particular circumstances, then of course this will affect our ability to give. If we talk to someone about our difficulties then this will be fully understood. God looks upon the heart.
Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you”.
Giving by deed of covenant is encouraged, so that the church can benefit by reclaiming tax at no extra cost to the giver.
How do I join?
Joining the church is not like joining an organisation or a social club. The structure of our church flows out of relationship and friendship – therefore, the ways of joining and of leaving are through those relationships. The leaders are the doors through which people enter or leave the church.
John 10:1 “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber”.
Those who are being added to the church are welcomed into the fellowship of the family and acknowledged publicly, usually at a church meeting. (A church meeting is a meeting for all those who are committed to the church. It is a forum for fellowship and communication).
Galatians 2:9 “ James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognised the grace given to me”.
Those who leave are released from the care and responsibility of the leadership, either through the laying on of hands or public acknowledgement of the fresh direction they are taking.
If you are a new believer and only recently become a Christian then you will almost certainly know someone who is already involved in the church. Talk to them about areas where you would like to get involved and they will be able to advise you. Moreover, you will soon be hearing about baptism. We regard believers’ baptism by total immersion to be an integral part of salvation.
Mark16:16 “Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”.
When you are baptised this is the most natural point at which you can be welcomed into the fellowship of the church.
Christians new to the church
You may have just moved into the area and are wondering how to get involved. If you are thinking along these lines then you may wish to introduce yourself to someone on the leadership team. This will give you the opportunity to ask any questions of them and they will also have an opportunity to meet you. They will help you to find your way into relationships and also help you get a feel for the heart and vision of the church. It is important that you soon feel part of the life of the church, coming under its pastoral care and having access to leadership.
Meet The Team
Sandra is married to Roger and has four grown-up children.
Dick is married to June and has four daughters.
Angie is married to John and has two children.
Matt is married to Libby and has four children.
Chris is married to Claire and has two sons, Adam and Luke.