The Fellowship Community and West Side
In March 2017 the session of West Side Presbyterian Church reaffirmed our commitment to the Fellowship Community, and look forward to strengthening bonds with other churches in the area.
The Session originally voted in March 2012 to join The Fellowship Community (known until late 2014 as the Fellowship of Presbyterians). The Fellowship Community is unique within the Protestant Church. It is a covenanted order of individuals and congregations who share one common goal: to build flourishing congregations who make disciples of Jesus Christ. This is not an organization with which you can be casually affiliated. The Fellowship is built around a strong theological center, a commitment that the Church exists first and foremost to proclaim Jesus Christ in words and actions beyond its walls, and a deep desire to share a life of discipline and prayer in covenant with other like-minded disciples within and beyond the PC(USA). Part of this unique way of life is the mentoring we can offer one another in the gospel, the establishment of new worshiping communities, and the priority we place on nurturing the next generations of church leaders—deacons, elders, and pastors.
To understand more of what makes The Fellowship Community unique, explore these links to some of our core documents:
- The Essential Tenets
- Confessional Standards
- The Theology Project
- Fellowship Covenant for Presbyterian Congregations
- Narrative on the Health of Mission and Ministry
The Fellowship Community is committed to ministry within the PC(USA) because God calls us here. When asked why he would associate with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus answered, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick… I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12, Luke 5:31) In interpersonal relationships, in declining neighborhoods, and in misdirected denominations, human instinct is to walk away—to not become involved. We who are part of the Fellowship Community believe the gospel compels us to move toward the difficulty, not away. In the past 40 years, the PCA, the EPC, and ECO have followed Christ to faithful mission and witness beyond the PC(USA). We affirm that call. We are commissioned by the same Lord to remain within the PC(USA)—not as those who agree with the current trajectory of our denomination, but as missionaries called to teach and model the Good News of Jesus Christ within a structure that is in deepening trouble.
The Fellowship is built around reclaiming our theological and confessional heritage, and rediscovering God’s call to mission. The Fellowship Community has one purpose—to build flourishing congregations who make disciples of Jesus Christ. For West Side PC, being part of the Fellowship Community will require deep change—rethinking our personal commitment to spiritual practices, reorienting our ministry focus, and reorganizing our priorities. This will not be easy, nor will it happen quickly, but disciplined attention to God’s Word offers gifts the Church cannot receive by any other means.
The Fellowship Community supports the following Core Values:
- Jesus-shaped Identity We believe Jesus Christ must be at the center of our lives and making disciples of Jesus at the core of our ministry.
- Biblical Integrity We believe the Bible is the unique and authoritative Word of God, which teaches all that is necessary for faith and life. The prominence of God’s Word over our lives shapes our priorities, and the unrivaled authority of the Bible directs our actions to be in concert with Christ’s very best for our lives.
- Thoughtful TheologyWe believe in theological education, constant learning, and the life of the mind, and celebrate this as one of the treasures of our Reformed heritage.
- Accountable Community We believe guidance is a corporate spiritual experience. We want to connect leaders to one another in healthy relationships of accountability, synergy, and care.
- Egalitarian Ministry We believe in unleashing the ministry gifts of women, men, and every ethnic group.
- Missional Centrality We believe in living out the whole of the Great Commission – including evangelism, spiritual formation, compassion, and redemptive justice – in our communities and around the world.
- Center-focused Spirituality We believe in calling people to the core of what it means to be followers of Jesus – what “mere Christianity” is and does – and not fixate on the boundaries.
- Leadership Velocity We believe identifying and developing gospel-centered leaders is critical for the church, and a great leadership culture is risk-taking, innovative, and organic.
- Kingdom Vitality We believe congregations should vigorously reproduce new missional communities to expand the Kingdom of God.
Being part of the Fellowship Community requires that West Side PC be a part of a Mission Affinity Group where Session will answer the Narrative Questions and, once a year, visit with the Session from another church and share our vision, goals and progress.
View this message from Jon Ortberg (Menlo Park PC, CA) to hear the original vision behind the Fellowship of Community.