THE BRIDGE CHURCH MINISTRY ROLE REQUIREMENTS GUIDELINES
In 2018, the Board of Elders of The Bridge Church committed to a season of study, debate, and prayerful discernment over the issue of the qualifications and requirements for ministry involvement at TBC. We had started to receive questions from ministry leaders and volunteers alike about what things might disqualify a person from ministry eligibility, as well as noting a need to proactively set goals for people to work toward if they currently do not qualify for a given ministry role but want to move toward being qualified.
As we worked through this complex and deeply emotional issue, we started with a couple core agreements. First, we agreed that the church needs to be a place where everyone belongs. And as such, everyone needs places where they can serve as they are. No matter where a person is on their discipleship journey with Christ, the fact that they have chosen to associate with the body and desire to serve it in some capacity demonstrates that they are on a discipleship journey, and our job as church leaders is to help facilitate that journey moving forward. Second, we agreed that there are certain roles that logically need to be restricted to people who have bought into the vision of a deeper life with Jesus and a vital connection to the church. We have set that threshold around the idea of church membership. With membership defined in our covenant around the principles of believing, belonging, behaving, and becoming—we think that we already have a working structure by which we can not only help people move forward in their walk with Christ, but also protect the ministry of the church and the persons being ministered to by the church at the same time.
There is also a third factor that needed consideration in this discussion. As a Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Canada, we are subject to the rules and policies of the denomination and at General Assembly 2018 some changes were made to those policies. In particular, a new statement on human sexuality was adopted by Assembly and all churches within the denomination are now required to abide by the language within it. Specifically, the language in the document on Practical Application of the Statement which requires all members to acknowledge and agree to live under the authority of the statement and to restrict “teaching” and “leadership” roles to those who are living lives congruent with the denominational position. The words "teaching" and "leadership" are not fully-defined by the statement, but for the purposes of local implementation, we have decided to link those requirements to church membership as well. We hope that by doing so we will mitigate against unhelpful complexity in our policy.
A Note about Church Discipline
Church discipline is the process by which we deal with a person who was previously qualified, but due to their actions has disqualified themselves from ministry. In the past, regardless of what lip-service might have been given to other axes of Christian discipleship, church discipline was only ever really enacted in the cases of people who were caught in a sin that we would talk about on the behave axis. Going forward we are desiring to be more intentional about discipline as a result of a deficit on any of the three main axes. And at the same time, we also wanted to ensure there was a focus on restoration for those who were under church discipline.
At The Bridge Church, we define discipline as the compassionate corrective work of the church toward a person who has changed trajectory relative to Christ. That is to say, that if discipleship is the act of growing closer to Christ in all that we do, then discipline is what the church does for people who stop moving toward Jesus and start moving away from him for any reason
This is the function of the become axis. As we become more like Jesus in the areas of believe, belong, and behave, we are experiencing discipleship. But when we start to move away from the centre and toward a life apart from Christ, the church’s loving response is discipline. Ministry disqualification is one possible avenue of church discipline for a person who is moving away from Jesus. It is not the first avenue of discipline in every instance, nor is it the best, nor may it be the only. However, it must be acknowledged that a failure to become in any of the other three areas of the membership covenant may trigger a process of church discipline to help a person correct their trajectory. This is not only about grievous public sin, but it can also be about a dissonance of doctrine, a lack of belonging/commitment to the church, or any of the other promises made by church members.
Therefore, while church discipline is usually a result of a change in a person in any of the Believe, Belong, and Behave axes, it is primarily a function of our discipleship process which is rooted in our shared commitment to Becoming more like Jesus.
Where then can I serve?
At The Bridge Church, the baseline for serving is that you are pointed towards Jesus (Becoming) and meet the minimum threshold of at least one of theBelieve,Belong, or Behave definitions.
As mentioned in the preamble, your elders were forced to define what the terms “leadership” and “teaching” meant relative to ministry and to simplify things we decided that teaching positions and leadership positions would only be available to those who were members in good standing. Consequently, we have defined these two words as follows:
Teaching– authoritative communication of doctrine and/or theology to persons school age or older
Leadership– responsibility for organization, coordination and discipleship of ministry teams
These two spheres can overlap; however, we wanted to define and communicate them separately as not all teaching positions are leadership roles, and not all leadership positions require teaching. This position is also congruent with the requirements handed down to us in the Practical Application of the Statement on Human Sexuality for Ministry and Leadership document in the new C&MA Manual.
Essentially, this means that any ministry role that is not a leadership position, is not a teaching role, and is not otherwise restricted by our role-specific caveats surrounding Believing, Belonging, and Behaving, (see below) is potentially open to anyone. The extent to which those caveats are applied is subject to the discernment of the elders and pastors to determine whether the role in question would help or hinder the individual in their path of discipleship toward Christ or be congruent with a discipline process that is aimed at turning them back toward Christ. Your church leaders are responsible for determining which opportunities help people move forward, and which would not be beneficial, or would be unnecessarily risky. The role-specific caveats can be broadly defined as follows:
A deficit in Believe disqualifies for teaching, which is technically a moot point at this point as we have already defined teaching as requiring membership.
A deficit in Belong disqualifies (or strongly limits) roles that occur outside the worship service on a Sunday morning as removing a person from the worshipping community and experience will not help them overcome this deficit.
A deficit in Behave disqualifies a person from roles related to their sin-issues based on context and risk as it relates to vulnerable persons.
While disqualifications from ministry service will be determined by known deficits along the axes of Believe, Belong, and Behave, questions of eligibility will be determined by the axis of Become. To that end, we have developed two process charts for how to determine eligibility for people in the church. One process for a candidate that asks, “where can I serve?” and another for a candidate that asks, “can I serve in XXXX ministry?” It is our hope that these processes will help guide flock conversations toward the goal of all people becoming more like Christ.
This page is meant for reference purposes only. For the official document, please download and print off the 2019 Church Membership Package.