We are not stuck on formulas, but we do believe Maturity + Real Community x The Trinity=A Pretty Awesome Church.
Paul was passionate about helping the Galatians mature. He said it this way: “Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.” (4:19) This is exactly what our vision means – to live and love in Jesus means to help one another become fully formed in Christ.
Maturity usually follows a pattern that is observed in Scripture. We begin to seek God. Perhaps we do this through nature, or our conscience gets our attention. We begin to understand that we can’t earn our way into God’s good graces through religious effort. One day, or gradually, we come to understand our sinfulness and God’s provision of Jesus and the good news of the Gospel. (See Denis’ video series on the Gospel)
So we begin to be initiated into the Christian faith by deciding to follow Jesus. This usually involves four steps that we see in the book of Acts (the only Bible book that describes stories of people starting the journey of faith in Jesus). First there needs to be repentance. We need to see our sin and ask God to forgive our sins by the blood shed by Jesus. This involves believing in Jesus, and accepting his death on the cross as payment for our sin.
The third step is to be baptized in water, which is a public statement of our faith, obedience to Jesus, and it gives us a clean conscience before God. Finally, we are to receive the Holy Spirit by prayer and faith according to the Scriptures. This last step is one that we experience and know has taken place, but with a wide variety of individual experiences. These four steps initiate us into the Christian faith and equip us to walk with the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit – they give us the tools we need to be effective disciples (imitators).
From there, it is a life-long journey to walk with God. This involves obeying all that Jesus taught, living and loving in his power. Sharing our faith with others, making disciples. helping those disciples make other disciples. We begin to serve as the Spirit leads.
This life involves constant repentance and seeking God’s fresh forgiveness. Usually, we are reminded to do this by the Spirit, through sharing holy communion, and through relationships of mutual trust and accountability. We can ask and we are commanded to be re-filled with the Spirit as often as we need it! We learn to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh (Galatians 5:16-24) and this is what it means to abide in Jesus (John 15).
Over time, we learn to use our spiritual gifts for others’ benefit, and we also learn that our time, money, resources – indeed our very lives – do not belong to others but rather to God and to the people he puts in our path. Eventually we become holier and more like Jesus!
At some point in this journey, we may feel called by the Spirit to commit ourselves to the local church here as a step in our journey and in obedience to the teaching of Scripture. Even though the term is not in Scripture, we have used “membership” to express this commitment, although the word “covenant” is a more biblically accurate word. Mariemont Church is a community of families who have made a covenant with God and each other to walk with him here for the benefit of others and for his glory.
These members, or covenant families are the main source of leadership for Mariemont Church. Our small group leaders, teachers, shepherds, deacons, staff and elders have all made this commitment to live and love in Jesus. This includes our local ministry partners and our international mission partners. This leadership gives the stability and the resources necessary to pursue the things God is doing, often over longer term periods of time.
We encourage you to pursue the fullness of a life with Jesus. There is always more with Jesus. More maturity. More fruit. More multiplication. More of his Kingdom.