Church Practices – Membership

Other Practices

The Practice
At theStory we value each other, the Kingdom of God, and being rooted in our city. We also accept all the risks that come with this location and identity. By God’s grace we aim to follow Jesus Christ in heart and life being formed by the scriptures and worship, tradition, reason, each other, and our broader spiritual family. By God’s grace we embrace the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in joyful obedience.

theStory seeks to live in the present in the light of our hope in God’s future and with faith in the history as is passed down to us through the Scriptures. theStory aims to be a kingdom outpost, an alternative community, a sign, a signal to Sarnia and the world that Christ has made a new way of life possible; a life together unlike anything the world has seen. We seek to embody forgiveness, sharing, open dialogue, self-sacrificing love through the church’s rituals, love for one another, and the spiritual disciplines.

theStory is a downtown Sarnia expression of the Free Methodist Church in Canada. The Free Methodist Church began as a movement in 18th century in England, morphed into the Free Methodist Church in America in the 19th century, and continues to grow globally to this day. It has always been the tradition of our movement to stand against oppression of the marginalized and to be open and inclusive towards people from all races, classes, and genders. We plan on keeping that tradition alive.

[Read Aloud]
The people of theStory live in the faith that we have been forgiven through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The people of theStory hold that the Scriptures contain the story about God’s people and that it is uniquely inspired by the Holy Spirit. The people of theStory give the Bible authority in our lives for how we believe in God and how we must live. The people of theStory aim to be Christ-like in heart and life by opening ourselves up to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, to the guidance of the Scriptures, to the shared life of among the people of theStory, and to the historic spiritual disciplines. theStory seeks to be in harmony with, is guided by, wrestles with, and seeks to contribute to the Articles of Religion, Membership Covenant, and the Goals for Christian Conduct of the Free Methodist Church in Canada. theStory embraces the the mission of the Free Methodist Church and joins with the global community in giving of our time, talents and resources towards that mission.

[Questions Out Loud]
Do you, by God’s grace, aim to partner with the people of theStory?
Do you, by God’s grace, aim to care about the things that the people of theStory care about?
Do you, by God’s grace, understand who this community is and the movement we belong to?
Do you, by God’s grace, commit to a giving and receiving relationship with the people of theStory and the people of the Free Methodist Church?

We welcome you as an official partner in theStory and we welcome you on this journey of becoming the kind of church we were called to be.

The Theology Around The Practice

There is something to be said for a “theology of place” “” choosing to orient our lives around community for the sake of the gospel. So much of our culture is built around moving away from people rather than closer to them. In many of the wealthiest countries in the world, we have lost the sense of a village. And we have some of the highest rates of home ownership and some of the highest rates of depression. We are some of the wealthiest and loneliest societies the world has ever seen. We live in a mobile culture in which people are used to moving every few years, and in which many folks will uproot without question to move for a higher-paying job. Commitment to a people and a place is one of the countercultural values at the heart of the gospel. It means recapturing the notion of the parish, a word which shares a root with parochial, meaning “localized and particular.” Many folks these days are learning from village cultures, where people often have fewer resources but more life and joy. Even our geography has to be rethought, because our neighborhoods and homes are often built around values different from the gospel and community. What we often lament as a “breakdown of the family” is really a breakdown of local community, which has stripped away the support structures that help all of us survive. Joachim and Anna, whom tradition names as Jesus’ maternal grandparents and who nurtured the mother of the Lord, remind us how important the basic institutions of family and community are.
– Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Some folks relocated their family to be part of a church that takes community seriously. After a year in the new location, he met with one of his pastors to talk about how things were going. Life was good, they reflected, and they was grateful for the welcome that they and their family had received at the new church. But they weren’t sure that they was experiencing the community they had expected. Frankly, they had hoped for more. The pastor listened to his misgivings, then asked how long the family had been there. “About a year,” he replied. “Then I guess you’ve got about a year’s worth of community,” his pastor said matter-of-factly. “Stay another year and you’ll have two years’ worth. Stay thirty and you might find some of what you’re looking for.”


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