A Tentative Proposal for VC

As the people of God, we feel called to be present to the place in which God has planted us. We seek to proclaim and embody the Good News that God has not abandoned us but has come to dwell among us and redeem us. By God’s grace, we seek to be imitators of Christ and live incarnational lives among our neighbors here in Norwood. We are a diverse people, seeking to embody a generous orthodoxy that stands in solidarity with the church historic and global. As we’ve laid out different models for VC over the last several weeks, there seems to be a shared hope to continue being a church in this neighborhood, a church that has a more definitive structure and yet retains an organic and intentional presence in the community.

As we have listened to God and to each other over these last several months, we feel confident in proposing a parish church model for VC that also incorporates elements of both the house church model and the intentional community model. The hallmark of a parish church model is a pastoral commitment to shepherd the people of a specific geographical location. Everyone within that boundary is seen as part of the church’s parish, regardless of their commitment to the church. For VC, this would mean an intentional commitment to caring for the people of Norwood, especially those within the immediate vicinity of St. Elizabeth.

Regular, smaller gatherings of us will be vital to the continued growth and discipleship that house churches at their best provide. These smaller gatherings can be based on geographical proximity, life stage, interest or missional cause. Distinct layers of commitment to the church will allow for clarity, more of a sense of ownership, and the pursuit of a more intentional life together. Each layer will invite people to a deeper commitment to God, each other, and the work of God in this place. Membership in the church will be possible without committing to all aspects of intentional community. Specific practices and covenants will be drawn up to give substance and distinction to these commitments. Further marks of this model are as follows:

A parish model of church would seek to cultivate our relationships with God by

-rooting ourselves in God’s faithfulness and love, seen most fully in Christ and His redemption

-regularly coming together as the gathered body of Christ for worship, prayer and fellowship

-taking seriously the call to proclaim and embody God’s love and justice

-committing to intentional practices of individual and corporate devotion

A parish model of church would seek to cultivate our relationships with our neighbors by

-committing to intentional practices of community presence and neighborly love

-providing a weekly gathering for worship that is accessible to them

-offering pastoral care and other services throughout the week that empower and encourage

-partnering with them in local activities, organizations and initiatives

A parish model of church would seek to cultivate the lives of its members by

-providing preaching, teaching and pastoral care that exhorts, equips, and encourages

-providing teaching and shepherding for children and youth

-coordinating opportunities for small group fellowship and discipleship

-committing to intentional practices of fellowship and accountability

Membership in this parish model would

-be centered around a covenant commitment

-be reviewed on a yearly basis

-include a commitment to mutual accountability with other covenant members

Leadership in this parish model

-would come from covenant members exercising their God-given talents and abilities

-would ultimately rest with a body of elders who represent covenant members

-may include a paid pastor and additional staff positions

The building in this parish model would

-be a visible and tangible hub of the church’s work in the community

-function as both a spiritual hospital and a launching pad for ministry out in the community

-get used throughout the week for various activities that serve the community

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