Wellspring Christian Fellowship
A Family Integrated Assembly
Serving the Sabillasville Area
Sundays, 10:00 am
Sunday Service Schedule:
09:45 Worship Prelude
10:00 Worship in Songs, Hymns and Spiritual Songs
10:20 Sharing in the Lord's Supper and Hymn
10:40 A Message from the Word
11:50 Sharing & Prayer; Closing Hymn
Phone: Email: Address:
(301) 241-2072 email@example.com 16827 Sabillasville Rd.
Sabillasville, MD, 21780
Why we worship the way we do...
A Family Fellowship Church
The first question asked by many was, "Is having a building going to change who we are and why we do the things we do?"
We have operated for 35 years, mostly in homes. That setting was significant in allowing for unhurried family worship and fellowship. Sheer numbers made that arrangement untenable and we have rented from the Thurmont Primary School for the last seven year. We suffered from the tension created by pre-arranged hours that we paid for by the hour. We lost much of our relaxed spontaneity of after-church fellowship. We have already experienced a return to a more relaxed atmosphere with the new building being open all day to families and in-house hospitality allowing for greater freedom. The building is open and available to members as an extension of their own home and hospitality ministry. We thank the Lord for this blessing.
What is the common bond in fellowship? It is not Christ crucified? Is that not a stumbling block to the selfish man and the fragnrance of death to the one seeking to asave this life? The preaching of Christ crucified is God's chosen way to build fellowshp and powerfully change lives. Spiritual growth means laying down your life for your friends. We pray that God will grant that we might use this new means of hospitality as a larger ser4vice in our fellowship families as well as in our new community in Sabillasville.
A thought from Our Daily Light ... September 29
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because [Christ] laid down his life for us.
The love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. - Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. - Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. - Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. - Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. - For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. - Christ ... suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.
Ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. - We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
I JOHN 3:16. Eph. 3:19. John 15:13. -II Cor. 8:9. I John 4:11. Eph. 4:32. Col. 3:13. Mark 10:4,5. I Pet. 2:21. John 13:14,15. I John 3:16.
Authentic Worship Our Goal
Authentic worship is a major objective of the New Testament. A proper assembly ought to cultivate authentic worship. I confess that the manner which WCF conducts its assembly comes from my pastoral sensitivities which were developed by attempting to pattern our assembly after New Testament examples and teachings; being of course filtered through my sensitivities, having come from a Roman Catholic background.
The Christian assembly ought to cultivate authentic worship. As a teaching elder, I confess that the manner in which WCF conducts its assembly arises from the pattern of assembly in the new Testament.
Scripture sets forth a structure for New Covenant assembly that is authentic, and sensitive to hypocrisy; satisfies the purpose of assembly with four elements of edification; is substantive and unhurried with ample time allotted to the gathering; and carried out in a family friendly context where children are welcomed into the adult world of authentic Christian living.
These ideals are hard to realize in a culture that is self-centered, age-segregated and of a very short attention span. The following passages that deal with corporate assembly have affected my outlook and practice here at WCF.
In John 4, Jesus establishes authentic worship with the woman at the well. Acts 2:42 is Luke's fourfold description of the early church practices of prayer, breaking of bread, fellowship and the Apostles' teaching. Acts 4:23 illustrates spontaneity of gathering with testimonies of present deliverance. Acts 20: 7 tells a refreshing story about a customary gathering of the church on Sunday and a relaxed meeting time-frame and a long-winded preacher that went all night. Acts 2 & 20 also note that the early church worshiped both publicly and from house to house, with Why We Assemble the Way we do By Gary L. Cox 1 children obviously present. 1 Corinthians 12-14 is a voluminous teaching on the assembly with the core value of edification and so are Hebrews 10 and Ephesians 5. From the Old Testament comes two patterns dealing with children; Deuteronomy 6 speaks of indirectly demonstrating faith to children by authentic parental example that seeds curiosity later, and Nehemiah 8 demonstrates the public reading of the law to the whole, age integrated congregation, with giving the sense of the text to cause understanding -- which practice continued weekly in the early church (See Acts 13:15 ).
Worship Sensitive to Hypocrisy
The first teaching on worship in the New Testament came from Jesus. In one sense, his clash with the contemporary religious leaders was caused by his ignoring the excessive protocols of their worship which he labeled hypocrisy. These teachings against hypocrisy mark his message in a primary way of application to personal, authentic worship, and is illustrated best in the Sermon on the Mount.
However, even then, worship was a controversial topic and perhaps you could describe it as a denominational debate, as illustrated by the woman at the well in John 4:19-24. Notice, in this passage, how a personal spiritual issue provokes a doctrinal debate over worship; and notice that Jesus steers the debate back to spiritual authenticity.
After hearing Jesus declare her adultery, "The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The objective of New Covenant evangelism (repentance) is the individual worshiper seeking God authentically, that is, worshiping God in Spirit and in Truth. When religious traditions allow the spiritual needs of the worshiper to be obscured by those traditions so that they substitute for authenticity, then the traditions need to be modified to regain authentic expression or be set aside altogether.
Authentic Christianity condemns empty form. Here is a brief excerpt from Paul to Timothy: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, ...Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." (2 Timothy 3:1-5) The structure of the assembly ought to promote authenticity. This is done best by continual reminders in preaching, testimony and fellowship and prayer that the call of discipleship is to repent and believe the gospel in a very personal way. The entrance of the Word and the Spirit gives life. The springing well of living water inwardly, upwardly to eternal life is the standard to measure authenticity. That means that the assembly ought to be open to the active gifts of all in an orderly fashion. Nothing provokes authenticity like vibrant vitality. Strife and vainglory, satisfying someone's outward agenda and being men-pleasers all cultivate hypocrisy.
The WCF Sunday assembly seeks to negate hypocrisy by: preaching each person's need to respond to the Gospel; scheduling multiple men to share in various segments of the service and allow an open mike for heads of households to enter into discussion and ask questions during the preaching segment. All preaching is from scripture and hopefully, led by the Spirit. Avoiding hypocrisy is done partly by avoiding showy displays. Our giving is done privately with a box at the back of the room, or mailing to the office. Attendance is not taken and no awards are given nor is performance-based accountability promoted.
Four Elements of Edification
The 4 elements are illustrated in Acts 2:41-43 and detailed in 1 Corinthians 14. Here is the first glimpse of the vital, non hypocritical early church assembly: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles." The four elements of "the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" appear to be the staple of authentic Christian fellowship, and should occur in part in every gathering.
The first day of the week appears to have become the traditional day when all the local believers would assemble. It appears from 1Corinthians 11 that the Lord's Supper was incorporated into some kind of weekly fellowship meal that had gotten out of hand. Disorder did emerge from loose forms, however, the order imposed in 1Corinthians 14 was designed to preserve family autonomy and the authority of the husband, the orderly conduct of the meeting and clarity of the word going forth so that believers might be edified and a visitor could understand what is being said, provoking him to give glory to God (a mark of true authenticity - see also Matt. 5:16)
Furthermore, the first day of the week was also a collection day. The money gifts set aside beforehand were brought and given to trusted men. This was done in order to avoid any public attempt to collect money during the meeting. (See 1Cr 16:2, "Upon the first [day] of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as [God] hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.") Giving on other days was practiced as well, see Acts 5.
The WCF Sunday service attempts to have all four elements plus receiving the weekly collection discreetly. After sharing in the singing of hymns and reading of scripture we have a Bible-based interactive sermon. Gary does most of the preaching, but the pulpit is open to others as need or desire arises. Giving attention to the public reading of scripture is done in the opening worship segment, during the message and also during communion and the prayer and sharing time.
The sharing of the Lord's Supper is done weekly and includes the reading of scripture, this being done by different men in the church on a rotating basis. For fellowship, we have a Prayer & Sharing time after Communion. The highlights of this time are sent later via email to everyone in the church.
In addition to the weekly gathering we have fellowship meals shared in a covered dish fashion that occur every 5th Sunday. We also have monthly meetings of a variety of types, such as regional prayer meetings, ladies teas, service outreach, men's prayer and an October and February Couples/Adult fellowship.
Substantive and Unhurried Worship:
We try to function in an open-ended, relaxed timeframe. Our start time is scheduled for 9:30AM. However, most people don't arrive on time (a matter needing practical discussion). The worship segment of singing and scripture goes until 10 AM. Preaching for an hour plus has become a practice encouraged primarily from the expectation of folks who come a long way and because we have only one service. We share in the Lord's Table next which is followed by Prayer and Sharing. The service usually ends between 12:30 and 1:00 PM.
Fellowship continues with our break-down routine and conversations after church. Families often take the early afternoon to share a meal at a nearby restaurant. The Razvi family invites the whole congregation over for fellowship, a later meal and an evening service. House to house fellowship is encouraged, but distance for some is a problem.
Children are Welcome!
Last but not least, the Assembly should be carried out in a family friendly context where children are welcomed into the adult world of authentic Christian living. Besides edification, 1Corinthians 14 preserves the authority of husbands in assembly practices. Since the Christian home reflects Christ and the church, the church assembly must not obscure or usurp the authority in the Christian home. Men only preach and teach; however the whole family shares in the praise, prayer and testimony time under the covering of each husband, father. Titus 2 women's ministry occurs in ladies teas, fellowship and special workshops.
WCF assemblies always welcome children. Why? Deuteronomy 6 commands the cultivation of the "teachable moment" by children being immersed in an authentic adult world of loving God with heart, mind and strength. The main Sunday assembly should not be built around children, but they should be welcomed into it considerately. This has more to do with accommodation than program. Since indirect observation is the key to discovery in a child's world, allowances for keeping children in the midst of their parent's world are imperative. Children can learn how to respectfully and discreetly occupy themselves when they are unable to directly enter into the focused adult activity or content. They actually learn more from indirect observation than structured didactic. Why We Assemble the Way we do By Gary L. Cox 7
Church Membership, Who Belongs?
What does church membership imply? What are you a member of? Is there local church membership, and membership in the Body of Christ?
Membership in the Body of Christ occurs by the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the indwelling Spirit is the only proof of true membership. (Romans 8:9). This is universal membership. Peter and the apostles discerned this kind of membership by the evidence that the Gentiles had been baptized by the Holy Spirit (see Acts 11) and by the baptism they were qualified to be admitted into a local Christian fellowship evidenced by water baptism. Evidence of membership in the Universal Church is sufficient for admission into local fellowship, providing a professing belieber has also received water baptism.
Mutual acknowledgement of local church membership is a duty not an option. Inclusion of genuine believers is the standard for receiving members into the local assembly. Beware! Division is the mark of carnality and immaturity in a local fellowship. In the early church, there was only one church per region or town. However, modern denominations have shifted the focus from the unity of all believers to the unity of a shared belief or a common practice.
1 Corinthians speaks forcefully to the error of carnal sectarian schisms. Originally, traveling believers carried letters of commendation to afford ministry opportunity in a new locale. How does WCF express that kind of unity today in our membership process? We ask perspective members to self identify and we welcome sincere professors of Christ weo desire to belong to our fellowship and share its Biblical privileges, accountability, service and deserving charity. Each member is a free participant by their own voluntary association. (Someone once joked that at WCF, attendance 3 times in a row makes you a member in good standing.) That is generally true if that is your intention, so please, let us know!
What is the purpose of a local membership roster? Rosters make it easy to identify those who are sharing the privileges and responsibilities. This knowledge is important for discerning those who do and don't come under our direct care. The larger the church the more complex the process. The early church limited such rosters to qualified widows. The first conflict in the church was concerning the Grecian widows who felt they were overlooked in the daily distribution. It was this complexity that led to setting apart the first six deacons.
Paul reiterates this principle in 1 Timothy 5, where he outlines in detail the qualifications for a widow to be put on the role. Everyone else is a free participant by voluntary association. Someone once joked that at WCF, attendance 3 times in a row makes you a member in good standing. That is true if that is the intention. Self declaration is sufficient and opens the dynamic of membership in its entirety, according to the scriptures
Church Membership: An Abiding Relationship
Universal membership, local expression.
Church membership is a work of the Holy Spirit by which believers are Baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ and given spiritual gifts as members of the body that edify the whole body. If you have not the Spirit you are not a member. If you do, you are. Everyone baptized by the Spirit is a member of the church, this is Universal Membership. Universal Membership is expressed in a local assembly, and can be recognized through evidence of Spirit Baptism and affirmed through water baptism, such as when Peter said concerning Cornelius', "Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" (Acts 10:47)
(While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, "Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?") Acts 10:44-47
Acknowledgement is a duty not an option. Inclusion is the standard of the local assembly. Division is the mark of carnality and immaturity. In the early church, there was only one church per region or town. Modern denominations have shifted the focus from the unity of all believers to a unity of shared belief or practice. Denominational membership requires a filtering process to identify shared beliefs to qualify as a member. 1Cor. 1 speaks forcefully to this error of sectarian schisms. And a traveling believer often carried letters of commendation which afforded ministry opportunity to a new locale. (See 2Cor. 3 for illustration.) This is how universal membership was expressed locally.
How does WCF express that unity today in our membership process? Self identify (personal profession), welcome acceptance, full biblical privileges, duties and accountability, qualified leadership and deserving charity.
Schedule of Sunday Worship
As we prepare to move into our new location, we have the privilege of creating a more functional timeframe. We are introducing a few changes to benefit families, and look forward to the more intimate fellowship these changes can cultivate.
The basic changes are a 10am start time and a 15 minute break after the message. To assist our prayer time, try to use provided prayer cards to share your prayer requests. Drop your prayer requests in the basket provided for that purpose. (Paper will also be available at the basket.) Be prepared to clarify and give updates orally on your prayer requests as in helpful to praying for your and your family's needs.
Come prepared to fellowship in a relaxed manner. Please bring any snacks your children may need. Food will be kept downstairs. Bring snacks for the children for the break time before communion. There will be room setup downstairs for any parent show wish to use that for restless children. A play area is offset to the left of the seating area. Please maintain quietness so others can view he screen and hear the messages without excessive distraction.
Only nursing mothers are allowed in the Sanctuary-level nursery. This is not a play room for toddlers; that is provided downstairs.