If you have been around me for very long, you know that I am CLEAR on the issue that next to God’s word and His Spirit, there is nothing as present a means of His grace in our lives as authentic fellowship with other believers. This is such a central issue to the Christian life that from the beginning we at Watermark have made connection to other believers non-negotiable for members of our larger faith community. Periodically, we have to remind brothers and sisters of this fact. Below is a copy of the letter (and the reason) we send to individuals who are not in accountable relationships with others at Watermark as well as some links to further resources on the community topic.
If you are a member of Watermark and need help connecting with others this way….contact Dana Douthit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile….Read it through, pass it on and live it out!
Thank you for completing your 2011 4B and for your desire to stay connected with us at Watermark. We are writing to let you know that our records indicate that you are currently not in a community group. We realize that our records could be wrong or there could be a misunderstanding about what we define as a Watermark community group. A Watermark community group consists of yourself and a minimum of at least two others, with at least one being a member of Watermark. Because the nature of this letter is about your membership and community, we want to let you know why this is so important to us.
As your church leaders, our Elders are continually challenged by Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
The privilege and trust given to us to lead His flock is one we take very seriously (Acts 20:28). All members (elders and staff included) have chosen to make the body of Christ at Watermark the place where we find community, accountability and encouragement. The first line of care always comes from other members closest and committed to you. Watermark has a direct touch with every member through the almost 1000 community group leaders we regularly meet with, train, encourage and serve. Each leader provides constant care and attention for everyone in his or her group. If someone is struggling or needs assistance beyond the group’s ability, every leader has direct access to a staff member who has access to every spiritual and physical resource in the church. In this way, every active member of Watermark has accountability that tracks throughout the church, directly to the elders.
This is consistent with the model provided for us in scripture (Exodus 18) and because of its importance, we supply significant resources and staff to assist our body so they can pursue and prosper in these life-giving relationships.
We have seen again and again that the single most important step a person can take for radical life transformation is to be committed to authentic, biblical community. The commitment to biblical community that is shepherded by trained and accountable leadership produces growth. That growth pushes you towards a deeper understanding and desire to be transformed in the image of Christ.
Because we believe firmly in the importance of the biblical call for God’s people to live in community, after six months we make members inactive who are not in a group of three or more people (with at least one other person being a Watermark member). As your church leadership, we would not be loving or leading you well if we allow individuals who remain isolated from relationships with other members of our body to believe that they are being cared for and shepherded as Christ intends.
Please let us know if you believe we have not served you well in your effort to connect, you need help connecting or if you have chosen to find God’s provision for community at another church. If we do not hear from you on where you are in the process of finding a community group or how we can help care for you, we will not be able to take responsibility of your care before Christ. Therefore we will move you to “inactive” as a member. We understand that it takes time to find a group, but we also want to be faithful shepherds of our members and call you to all that scripture calls you to. If there are any extenuating circumstances that we need to be aware of please let us know.
Right now, we would like to know if you:
1.) Have found a community group and we don’t have that accurately reflected in our records
2.) Would like to share with us how you are living in obedience to scripture related to this area
3.) Plan on attending group link or have a personal strategy in place to find community
4.) Do not wish to join a community group at this time.
We look forward to serving you and hearing from you soon, and are praying that you would avail yourself to all that Christ intends. For some great reminders on the importance of community and the heart behind this communication, please see:
The Community Team