How to Belong
Welcome to Table View Methodist Church - I hope that this community makes you feel like you belong; no matter who you are - or where you are in your spiritual journey we believe that we are called to walk with you along the way.
Our journey as Christian people is towards Christlikeness - becoming more like Jesus. By this we obviously don’t mean growing a beard and wearing sandals - we’re talking about developing Christian character; 1 Corinthians 13 describes love so beautifully:
“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
God is love - Jesus is God, we are called to imitate him - we are called to live in love; we believe this is what we were created for. Reading 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 you could replace ‘Love’ with ‘Jesus.’
“Jesus is patient; Jesus is kind; Jesus is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. Jesus does not insist on his own way; Jesus is not irritable or resentful; he does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Jesus bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
You could measure your growth in love by trying to read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 with your name.
We quickly realise that we are not quite where we should be. That’s OK, be patient with yourself, be patient with each other - St Paul writes:
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…”
- Colossians 3:13
We’re all on a journey and we need all the help we can get.
God helps us by giving us the scriptures to guide us, the Holy Spirit to empower us, the sacraments of communion and baptism to remind us, prayer - to ask for help - and each other - a community of mutual encouragement.
If you want to work towards becoming more Christ like - then we want to help you; and we believe you can help us.
Fellowship / Membership
The new Testament describes the earliest church as having ‘fellowship’ with one another - the Greek word koinonia, translated as ‘fellowship’ means more than just knowing each other’s names - or being friendly with one another; but it describes being in ‘partnership’. Partnership means we commit to one another. Our church law (The Book of Order) speaks of taking up the ‘duties and privileges’ of being a part of the church.
Partnership blesses and burdens us - but if every person tries to outserve everybody else - then everyone ends up blessed. Jesus exemplifies this in washing his disciples feet - he participates in the community of disciples as a servant, rather than as a master.
Look for ways to bless the community with your skills and abilities - support us financially, offer your time and abilities - help to teach Sunday School, make meals for those who are sick or for the Alpha Course, operate the projector for our Sunday worship, join or start a Bible Study group… See where you can get involved by participating in something that is happening or if there is something you think we should start - speak to the leadership and see how you can make it happen.
The church will do its best to make you feel like you belong. At a new friend’s house they might make you coffee, but at a good friend’s house you are invited to go to the kitchen and help yourself. In some sense it is the same with the church. We make sure the coffee is there - but you might have to help us get it.
Fellowship is partnership; in fellowship we help each other to help each other.
Membership is not conditional upon the profession of theological tenets, or dependent upon traditional authority or ecclesiastical ritual. It is based upon a personal experience of the Lord Jesus Christ, brought about by the Spirit, ranging from the earliest signs of Divine Grace in the soul to its crowning blessedness in the joy of ‘perfect love’.
- Methodist Book of Order 3.1
If, because of Jesus, you want to become more like him - and want to formalise your relationship with the church and him in a public way we encourage you to participate in Baptism and Confirmation.
Methodists practice infant Baptism, adults who are not baptised may be baptised but those who are already baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit may not be baptised again. This is not the place for a lengthy discussion of the why and why not; simply put - baptism is a sign of God’s grace that indicates that you belong.
Even though you might not have acted like you belong, God never abandoned you - his love and grace remained upon your life and God honoured your Baptism. To be rebaptised is to act as if God didn’t do God’s part.
The Apostle Paul states in Ephesians 4:
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit - just as you were called to one hope when you were called - one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all…
- Ephesians 4:3-6
He probably had to write this because church communities tend to split apart and start new communities in new places. By emphasising that there was only one baptism he needed them to know that even though they might be different communities - they are still one family in Christ; there was no need to get baptised every time you moved to a new church.
If you have not been baptised, or you would like to have your child baptised then speak to the minister in order to arrange a discussion about the implications of Baptism. Baptisms usually take place on the first Sunday of the month when we have communion. They have to take place during a service of worship because the congregation has a part to play in receiving you or your child as a part of God’s family.
If you would like to be baptised as an adult then we usually conduct confirmation for you at the same service. In confirmation you confirm your belief in Father, Son and Holy Spirit and invite the Holy Spirit to be your helper and guide.
Reception into Membership
If you have been baptised and confirmed and are moving into the Table View Methodist as a member of another society in the Methodist Church, or if you are transferring from another church then we would love to formally receive you into membership. We try to do this once every four months. In preparation for reception we ask that you meet us for coffee and cake and a discussion about what it means to belong to the Table View Methodist Church at 4pm on the Sunday afternoon preceding your reception.
(If you can not make the Sunday afternoon - you are welcome to make an appointment with the minister at another time.)
If you are not yet baptised and confirmed but still want to be a member - then you are welcome. Officially you will be a member ‘on trial’ but we will treat you as a full member as you figure out whether you are ready to be confirmed. What we ask at reception into membership is that you make / or re-affirm the commitments that you made (or will make) at your confirmation:
On behalf of Table View Methodist we welcome you into our fellowship.
With us: will you commit yourself to the Christian life of worship and service, and be open to the renewing power of God?
With God’s help I will.
With us: will you seek the strength of God’s Spirit as you accept the cost of following Jesus Christ in your daily life?
With God’s help I will.
With us: will you witness, by word and deed, to the good news of God in Christ, and so bring glory to God?
With God’s help I will.
The minister or leader says to the congregation:
Members of the body of Christ, I commend these persons who newly joined to your love and care. Will you all so maintain the Church’s life of worship and service that we may grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord?
With God’s help we will.
Please contact the office, or watch the notices for our next welcome coffee.
Our Beliefs / Values
Put simply: Methodists hold to the historic doctrines of the Christian faith. We are evangelical, but moderates rather than fundamentalists. We value the intellect and modern science, while at the same time looking to the Bible as the authoritative guide for faith and practice. Methodists have a passionate faith with strong convictions, but we also recognize that the world is not always black and white. We are willing to ask questions, to wrestle with difficult issues, and to do so with grace and compassion.
Methodists have been known for our emphasis on a personal faith, lived out in concrete ways in the world. We have historically valued well-informed and passionate preaching, worship that is lively, and small groups where people could grow in faith.
Methodists have open hearts, and open minds--and welcome anyone interested in learning more about the Christian faith.
We are a part of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, our Book of Order (which describes our rules and regulations can be found here: http://bit.ly/1JGepZX) Visit our webiste www.tvmethodist.co.za to find out more.
Origins of the Methodist Church
Without going into too many details...
The Anglican Church began to split away from the Catholic Church in the thirteenth century, there were several reasons for the split, most of them were political; but the major split coincided with the reformation catalysed by Martin Luther in the sixteenth century. in the eighteenth centrury John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was an ordained Anglican Minister and a teacher of Philosophy at Oxford University. Wesley and his friends met together to help each other grow in holiness - soon Wesley's small groups expanded and were formed all over the countryside. Methodists would go to church at the Anglican Church and meet together later to encourage each other in their Christian walk.
As the Methodist movement grew in popularity and spreaded to the newly established American colonies there were not enough Anglican priests to meet the need. Wesley reluctantly ordained some of his lay preachers to serve as priests and this marked a split from the Anglican Church. Although the Methodist Church split off from the Anglicans we continue in good relationship with each other and Methodist ministers can serve in Anglican churches and vice-versa.
If you would like to know more about the origins of the Methodist Tradition and the values I recommend this sermon series http://bit.ly/1JGeKvL (preached by Rev Adam Hamilton at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Kansas. Or this book: Revival, Faith as Wesley Lived It, by Adam Hamilton - available on Kindle, or by order.
Worship With Us
We gather for worship on Sunday mornings at 8, 930 and 11.
At our 8am service we might sing more hymns than we do at 930. Our 11am service is predominantly isiXhosa (with subtitles on the screen) preaching is usually in English. The service follows the isiXhosa order of morning prayer. Sunday school is offered for children during the 11am service.
Sunday School is also offered during the 930 service; but children and parents begin the service together at 930, we try to ensure that our first few songs are appropriate to both children and adults. It is important that children learn to sing some hymns, and adults learn to sing some children’s choruses and participate in the actions that go with them, it is our hope that we will teach each other to praise God together.
After our worship together we say the Lord’s Prayer and pray for our children and their Sunday School teachers as they go to their classes.
Everybody is welcome at all of our services - and we invite you to ‘come as you are’ - we’re not a very formal crowd of people.
Pattern of Worship
Worship comes from ‘worth ship’ or value. When we ‘worship’ we participate in an exercise in getting our values in order. For Christians Sunday is the first day of the week - we try to start our week with God as our first priority and everything falling into place after that.
Worship is prayer. Prayer is conversation with God - the Psalms and various prayers in the Bible teach us how we ought to pray and the most important prayer is the one that Jesus’ teaches his disciples:
“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.”
- Matthew 6:9-13
Our worship is guided by the pattern of this prayer.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
This section of the prayer invites us to remember who we are talking to; God who is our heavenly parent. A tension between majesty and tenderness. God whose name should be Holy. It is our prayer that in worship we would remember rightly what God’s name means - what God is like. Jesus most clearly reveals God’s identity - God’s name to us - and so we pray that we would recognize what this means.
During this part of our worship service we sing songs that speak of God’s holiness, and faithfulness, God’s character.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
As we remember who God is - as we remember that God is our worthy King - the next movement of our prayer is to ask that his Kingdom would come. We pray for the brokenness of the world in which we live - but we also confess our part in this brokenness.
As we confess we are reminded of the kindness with which God forgives - and we are reminded of the grace that God gives us, through the power of the Holy Spirit - to be who we were created to be.
When we say ‘Your will be done’ we pray that we would be set free to do God’s will through our lives.
At our 11am service we move from confession to praise as we sing the Siyakudumisa.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Jesus invites us to pray pragmatically - the writer of proverbs asks God that he would have enough - not so little that he would be tempted to steal, and not so much that he forgets his need for God. During this part of our worship we bring our monetary offerings.
We stand when we bring our offerings forward; some of us have no money to give; some have given via EFT; but we stand to indicate our most important offering; an offering of who we are. A surrender of ourselves to the work of God and his Kingdom.
And forgive us our debts,
...as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.
Now comes the hard part of prayer: Listening.
As Jesus teaches us to pray he teaches us to pray for the strength to live as he has taught us to live. One of Jesus’ most difficult teachings is the call to forgive as you have been forgiven. Jesus invites us to live in the world with an attitude of grace and mercy; this is most clearly evidenced in the beatitudes - Matthew 5-7. He also teaches us to pray that we ‘will not give in to temptation’ - rather than take up doing something naughty, the prayer is that we would not give up doing the good that God has called us to do.
Although we don’t always hear God very clearly we hear God most clearly through the scriptures and so we invite preachers to help us to hear what God has to say to us through the scriptures. Our preachers prepare by studying the scriptures and earnestly praying that what they have to say is guided by the Holy Spirit.
Our preachers usually follow the Revised Common Lectionary - a three year roster of readings from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Gospels and the Letters. This ensures that we are challenged by the various scriptures without always choosing our favourites. From time to time we will follow themes that engage and encourage us in new ways. Our goal will always be to ask: “What does God say to us through this scripture?”
As we close the service we pray for each other:
“Now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and forever more. Amen.”
Getting the Most Out of Worship & Church
I love the joke about the pastor who was met by a member who complained at the end of the service: “Pastor, I got nothing out of that service.” The pastor was quick to reply: “Well, we weren’t worshipping you.”
Our preachers won’t always be the best in the world; our music might sometimes be a bit off key and our seats won’t always be the most comfortable. But if, when you come to church to worship you bring your heart, mind and soul and make a decision to make the most of the moment - you will discover that God has a message for you through the Word and through the community that surrounds you.
Participate in the life of the church - in the worship of the community as someone who seeks God first - and everything else should fall into place.
This Document is Also Available at www.tvmethodist.co.za (Click on the About tab)