FAQs About Us

dove cross colourThanks for reading our “frequently asked questions.”  These are the questions people ask us, along with a few that you might want to know about anyway.  If you don’t have a Bible in e-format, you can click here for online access to a free complete Bible in several different language translations.

 


 

1. “What is your church’s plan? What are you trying to accomplish?”
2. “What kind of church are you? What is your denominational affiliation?”
3. “Where do you get your teachings and practices?”
4. “Why do you all sing during your Sunday assemblies? Why do you not use musical instruments?”
5. “Do you take Communion? Why? Who is allowed to take it?”
6. “How can I become a member of the South Burnaby Church of Christ?”
7. “I come from another religious background. Is my previous baptism valid for becoming a member here?”
8. “What does membership here mean?”
9.  “Is regular church attendance expected of all members of the church here?”
10. “Who leads this congregation?”
11. “If I were to become part of this church and later decided to leave, how can I remove myself from the congregation?”
12. “Are members expected to give money?”
13. “Are members expected to get involved in church activities?”
14. “Are you the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? the Iglesia ni Cristo? the International Church of Christ (Boston Movement)?”
15. “If I want to become part of the South Burnaby Church, do I have to do everything you say in this article, and always agree with you?”


1.     “What is your church’s plan? What are you trying to accomplish?”
Our basic approach is simple:  we want to know God’s heart and do whatever He wants to do for people.  Within the way this church works, there’s room for many different kinds of activity to accomplish this.

We’ve built our “big-picture” vision from the overall flow of the Good News found throughout the Bible. Everything about us starts with God, who He is, what His heart is all about:

God’s
purpose for us
is to know Him and be loved by Him,
and to show how good He is
by sharing His love with all kinds of people.

Jesus continues His ministry in us
as we follow Him and make disciples who
worship God,
nurture each other, and
spread the Good News of God’s victory
over the power of sin, over our failure, and over death.

In Jesus Christ God is making a new world,
and everyone who wants to join Him is welcome.

The short form for all this is “Walking in God’s love … and giving it away.”

Generally speaking, what you see and hear among us will reflect these directions. The other articles on this site, and the audio teaching files, will give you a clearer idea of what all that means to us. And of course, getting acquainted with us personally is the best way to find out what we mean by what we say.

As you can see, our sense of vision for what God is doing leads us to learning how to rely on His Spirit to get things done. His heart and His power, living and working in us, is how Jesus’ ministry to people continues.

2.     “What kind of church are you? What is your denominational affiliation?”
We are a non-denominational church – that is, we are “autonomous.” We associate with an informal, world-wide fellowship called Churches of Christ. Churches of Christ are a grass-roots unity movement among Christians, with roots in a variety of traditions: early ecumenical revivalists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists. This fellowship has no headquarters, no formal organization, no formal creed or written statement of faith. We do things in this primitive style in order to follow Jesus Christ as the New Testament Christians did – to be simply Christians, nothing more or less.

In our regular church life here, we really prefer to emphasize simply following Christ, rather than focusing on the “distinctives” of our own fellowship.Our members are also connected with the wider Christian community, and blessed in many ways – shared friendships, shared schools, shared activities, shared learning.

3.     “Where do you get your teachings and practices?”We study the Bible. We believe that in the Old Testament God has given us an accurate record of His plans, His personality, His dealings with people, etc. In the New Testament we learn more about God’s plans and His heart, and we find specific information we need to follow Jesus in our daily lives and to work as a church.  We have no other authoritative documents or persons.

Over the past 1900 years many well-intentioned people have studied the Bible, developed religious traditions, and over time they have altered the shape of ancient Christian faith. Our aim is to learn from the good things others have learned through the ages, which are consistent with Biblical teaching.  However, we really want to avoid traditions that are out of step with what God shows us in the Bible.  Since we don’t “know it all,” either, we’re constantly studying in order to improve our grasp of what the Bible really says, and of what God wants to do with us.

To summarize:  God is our final authority. We believe that He has expressed Himself authoritatively in the Bible, and we strive to use responsible methods to understand His words and apply them to our lives.

4.     “Why do you all sing during your Sunday assemblies? Why do you not use musical instruments?”

This expresses our desire to be Christians of the same style as they were in the New Testament times, living by the ancient New Testament customs of church life, and to be faithful to the teaching of the Bible which produced those customs. The apostle Paul urged the early Christians to sing to the Lord and each other, with their hearts as the musical instruments – so that’s what we try to do when we’re together on Sundays. This practice also allows everyone to participate more fully and wholeheartedly in the assembly.  It draws us close to God and to each other!

In some of our other activities, and in our homes many of us express our faith in a variety of musical ways, according to our freedom in Christ. Some sing, some listen to contemporary Christian music, some play instruments to the glory of God.  But when we’re together in the Sunday assembly, we all sing to the Lord and each other.

5.     “Do you take Communion? Why? Who is allowed to take it?”

Yes. We take it weekly, as the ancient Christians did. We do this as an  active remembering of the past:  Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples, and His death and resurrection for us all; the present: the Lord Jesus, raised from the dead, living among us now; and the future: the great Day when He returns, makes all creation new, and brings us to be with Him forever.

Communion is one of the special events of our assemblies, where Jesus “meets us.” All baptized believers who wish to remember Jesus this way are welcome to take it with us. We generally don’t encourage unbaptized children to take it until they’ve believed and are baptized.

6.     “How can I become a member of the South Burnaby Church of Christ?”

The single most important qualification is to receive salvation, to belong to Jesus Christ. To do this, we need to hear the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection for us. If we believe the Good News of Jesus Christ, repent of sin, and are baptized in water as believers, this is our entry into Him and everything He does for us: into the forgiveness of all sins, and into receiving the Holy Spirit. Everyone who is baptized into Christ here is considered a member here.

If you have already been baptized in another congregation of the Churches of Christ, let our elders know who you are, and tell them that you’d like to be known as a member here. They’ll meet with you to get acquainted with you, and to help you become acquainted with us. Once we’re familiar with each other and are in agreement, the elders will make a public announcement, and you will be welcomed as a member.

If you’re coming to us from somewhere else, we recommend that you take some time to get to know us – and consider your willingness to participate in the life of this church and to follow its leadership – before deciding that you want to formally identify with us.

Everyone is welcome to attend our assemblies and activities, whether or not you’ve made a formal commitment to being a member here. Becoming a recognized member here strengthens our sense of being connected with each other, and tells us that we can rely on each other for support and encouragement. It opens the door to greater involvement and various kinds of leadership. “Membership” isn’t “mandatory,” but we recommend it!

7.     “I come from another religious background. Is my previous baptism valid for becoming a member here?”

Possibly. See the article “Q&A: Baptism” for more detailed answers to questions you might have.  If your previous faith and baptism agree in principle with Biblical teaching, then we gladly welcome you as a member of the church here in the same way that we welcome people from other Churches of Christ – see above for details.

If there’s any doubt regarding whether your previous faith and baptism were Biblical, or if you are unbaptized, we encourage you to study the matter and consider being baptized in a Biblical way. We’ll be happy to help you with anything you need in this regard. It’s obviously important that we all be certain that we share in salvation, and growing together is much more effective when we share a common Biblical understanding of how to become a Christian.

8.     “What does membership here mean?”

Membership here isn’t a “status” in a religious organization – it’s a relationship, a special friendship put together by God. It consists of closeness to Him and closeness to other people in whom He lives. The tasks of membership here are the tasks of loving each other, helping each other, forgiving each other, praying for each other, sharing in the Spirit together, working together in Jesus’ mission, etc. All of these things come from God in the New Testament.

9.     “Is regular church attendance expected of all members of the church here?”

Yes. Assembly – and our other activities – are spiritually nourishing events. It’s where we “meet the Lord together,” where He ministers to us as we live “in fellowship” with Christ. If we don’t see you regularly, we’ll eventually call to see if everything’s OK. This is not because of “rules and regulations,” but because when God saves us He makes us part of His church in relationship with others, not merely saving us and leaving us alone. He designed it so that we need each other to receive much of the ongoing help He gives us.

Obviously, we all have illness and other situations arising from time to time that keep us from attending on a given Sunday. But we want to be together with Him and each other to share in the things most important to us.

10.     “Who leads this congregation?”

Ideally, Christ Himself does, since He is the Head of the Church and His Spirit lives in us. He does this through many different leaders, doing different things. In an important way, every member is a “minister,” because anyone here can serve other people and do what Jesus would do for them.  In our Sunday assemblies – as well as our other activities – many different people take public roles of leading, speaking, helping, serving.

In practical New Testament terms, though, we have 3 groups of leaders:

Elders are mature leaders formally recognized by the church, who care for the spiritual well-being of members of the church.  They provide nurture, support, counsel and prayer, and are generally “shepherds” caring for us. Our elders are Garnet Andrews, John Clelland, and Richard Wood.

Deacons are formally recognized leaders who work in specific tasks: Assembly ministry, which plans our Sunday assemblies; Education ministry, taking care of our Sunday Bible classes and other related activities; Missions ministry, keeping us aware of and involved with churches in other countries; Facility ministry, caring for our building and grounds; and Finances.  Events Coordination and Special Care ministries are delegated to regularly changing teams of members who wish to serve.

Evangelists or ministers are full-time paid workers with the church. They provide teaching and preaching, and help build a “sense of direction.” They have special tasks of helping people become Christians and helping to equip them to serve others.

Kirk and Lori 2013

Meet Kirk & Lori Ruch! They’ve been members of the South Burnaby Church since 1988, and Kirk began serving here full-time in ministry in 1989. They’ve been blessed to be part of a group of several families who all raised our children here together – Kirk & Lori raised 4 – and now their children are doing the same! Kirk serves as our teaching minister, and you can reach him by e-mail at Kirk (at) sbchurch (dot) ca

a-Conor

Meet Conor Wilkerson! You can contact him at Conor (at) sbchurch (dot) ca Conor is a graduate of Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, BC – he began working with us in 2012 in youth ministry, and now as our “associate minister,” takes on a wider range of responsibilities – including leading the group that plans our gatherings.

 

 

 

There are also many other activities that are accomplished by the help of members who serve informally. We’re grateful for the contributions of many of our people – men, women, and children – who use their talents to help the rest of us serve God, love each other, and reach out to others.  At various times groups of our members have served Sudanese and Swahili-speaking immigrants, Korean and Chinese-speaking immigrants, ministries for young women and newly married couples, annual short-term mission trips to other countries, and longer-term missions, and other activities.

Each year we have at least one General Meeting, in which all members have the opportunity to express their views and support for various activities and plans up for discussion.

11.     “If I were to become part of this church and later decided to leave, how can I remove myself from the congregation?”

The simplest way is for you to tell the elders you no longer wish to be identified with us.

The New Testament does have instructions for the church to formally remove a member – to “withdraw fellowship.” This happens when a member is involved in blatant disobedience to God, and refuses help in order to change. “Withdrawal” can also occur as a consequence of divisive or dangerous behaviour.  It is rarely necessary and only taken as a last resort after every effort to resolve the problem in other ways.  Everyone here is learning and growing – no one is complete and perfect.  So our basic approach is to encourage and help each other – not to criticize each other.

12.     “Are members expected to give money?”

Yes.  Financial giving is a personal act of worship to God:  giving tells God that you trust in His goodness and generosity.   God promises to bless those who trust Him enough to worship Him in this way. It’s one more means He gives us to participate in the work He Himself is doing in the world.

Making a commitment to member-relationship includes regular giving of whatever amount you believe God wants you to give.  It’s your responsibility to maintain this as you believe you best can. This is the ancient practice. We don’t get involved in your personal accounting, and we don’t “demand” contributions – these are private matters between you and God.  Non-member guests who wish to express worship to God in a financial way are welcome to participate here – but we do not want anyone to feel pressured to give for any reason other than the love of God and devotion to His work through this congregation.

Members are encouraged to plan regular giving of a consistent amount – this makes congregational financial planning easier.

We try to be careful and respectful about financial situations, recognizing that everyone has different circumstances.  The collected money is used for various programs and expenses, all of which are available for your scrutiny.  At times the congregation may learn of special needs of members, missionaries, etc. and plan special contributions – but in this, too, we try to be discreet.  We want everyone to share in God’s blessing, but we also want no one to feel unfairly pressured.

All funds are strictly accounted for by our Treasurer. We provide weekly church bulletin updates on contributions received, and an annual budget and comprehensive report of all the church’s corporate income and expenses, available to all our members. We also provide tax-deductable receipts each year for all contributors, including contributions from non-member guests.

13.     “Are members expected to get involved in church activities?”

Yes, as your time and abilities permit. You will find great interest and satisfaction serving God and people in our present ministry activities, or you may want to start a new kind of activity to help people. Talk with our elders and minister about where you can fit in to the plan.

14.    “Are you the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?  the Iglesia ni Cristo?  the International Church of Christ  (Boston Movement)?”

No.   All of these organizations are quite different from us, and none of them have organizational ties with us. The name “church of Christ” is our simple, deliberately “generic” way of saying that we want simply to be Christians, not to be followers of any human tradition or organization.  The heart of our church life is to follow Christ as the earliest Christians did.  We will always be learning and growing, but this is the direction where we believe God leads us.

15.     “If I want to become part of the South Burnaby Church, do I have to do everything you say in this article, and always agree with you?”

No. The only real requirements are to have heard the Gospel and to have responded to Jesus Christ in faith and water baptism – and to maintain a cooperative attitude toward our elders and other members. We’re all in a process of growing and maturing, under the Lord’s guidance. We don’t all “get it” at the same time. Our place is to love each other and help each other grow.

However, what you read on this website is a clear summary of where we’re coming from and where we’re going.  We’re doing our best to respond to God’s Spirit working among us.

We believe that our specific teachings, expectations, purpose, and overall plans are rooted in the whole Bible, and that this is a good base for responding to people around us, doing what God wants to do, and continuing to learn and grow in Him. This is where we’re going. If your sense of direction is different from ours, we encourage you to find another fellowship that better suits your perception of how to follow God.

You’re welcome to contact us with any further questions or comments.

BIBLE REFERENCES

This short list of New Testament references might be helpful to you in understanding what we do and why.  They’re grouped according to the question number to which they best refer.

1.   1 Cor 1.2; Rom 16.16; 1 Peter 4.16
2.   1 Cor 11.1; Matt 28.18-20; Matt 15.1-9
3.   2 Tim 3.16; Hebrews 4.12
4.   Ephesians 5.19; Colossians 3.16
5.   Acts 20.7; 1 Cor 11.23-26
6.   Acts 2.36-41
7.   Acts 19.1-6
8.   Rom 12.4-13; Eph 4.1-16
9.   1 Cor 12.4-7; Heb 10.22-25
10.   Eph 1.22, 3.15-16; 1 Tim 3,4
11.   1 Cor 5.1-5; 2 Thess 3.6-15; Titus 3.9-11
12.   1 Cor 16.1-2; 2 Cor 8.1-15
13.   Ephesians 2.10, 4.16; Titus 2.14, 3.8
14.   Matt 28.18-20; 2 Thess 2.11
15.   1 Cor 1.10; Php 2.1-2