On Monday night, January 19, 2015, CityLights Church had a church-wide meeting at Midwest Bible Church. The church attended to be informed on how the CityLights eldership intends to grow our church into maturity this year. At CityLights, we believe that the elders and deacons should be held accountable to the qualifications of elders and deacons found in Scripture (see 1 Timothy 3:1-13 & Titus 1:5-9) by the church. We also believe that the Bible gives the elders the authority to call their local church body into covenant membership with the elders and one another and, in a sense, hold the church accountable according to the Scriptures. The body of elders desires that those who call CityLights their church home would work together to leave a legacy of being a people in covenant relationship who exist to glorify Jesus for future generations to follow. It takes years and decades of a local church body rubbing shoulders, building relationships and sharpening one another in order for the body of Christ to be the church and make disciples.
The elders believe that Acts 2:42 is a clear picture of what being a covenant church looks like today. Acts 2:42 says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and the prayers.” Let’s look at each one of these four things the early church was devoted to.
DEVOTED TO CHRIST-CENTERED PREACHING
In the book of Acts we see that the apostles taught the church, sometimes for hours. The church spent hours upon hours listening to the Word of God being preached. The apostles’ teachings were Jesus-centered; always aiming to get the listeners to come to a repentance of their sins and to trust in the name of Jesus, be baptized and join the church. Here at CityLights, we value the Word of God and hold it in high regard. Our aim for each and every weekly service is Christ-centered preaching that leads to repentance, a trusting in Jesus for the non-believer, and a walking in repentance and deeper trust in Jesus for the believer. We strongly believe that CityLights Church today ought to be devoted to the Christ-centered teaching of its elders and teachers. Acts 20:20 says, “…I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public, and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here we see Christ-centered teaching taught in public and in homes – or what we refer to as the corporate gathering and Community Group. Thus, we encourage you and exhort you to make our weekly gatherings and Community Group a priority for you and your family. Make it a priority so that your schedule revolves around the weekly corporate gathering of the saints to praise God and receive from His Word, which gives life. Our Christian walks are not meant to be lived and experienced in isolation, but with a local church body congregation.
DEVOTED TO THE FELLOWSHIP
We see that the church also devoted itself to the fellowship. The word fellowship in the Greek is koinonia which means partnership, communion, and aid. We believe that the members of CityLights Church are to be committed and be in partnership with each other as it relates to our spiritual growth and sanctification. This means we are to be a community that cares deeply for one another. We are to have all things in common – sharpening one another and coming together always for the purpose of glorifying Christ. The best way to be devoted to the fellowship of the church at CityLights is to be a faithful attendee at our corporate gathering and our Community Groups. Community Groups are designed to help a smaller group of people from the corporate gathering have a home to meet at where together they can be active participants in each other’s sanctification as they gather together to exhort one another through the Christ-centered preaching taught in the corporate gathering, through prayer, through mutual accountability and care for one another. We understand that for some, Community Group attendance is impossible due to late night work schedules and for one spouse on school nights when children must go to bed early, but for the rest of us, Community Group ought to be a priority in our lives as we are to take our spiritual growth seriously. For those who cannot attend, we encourage you to be connected to our church body by serving in a ministry where you will come in close contact with other believers frequently. It is our desire that through both the corporate gathering and Community Group you will become a disciple that can proclaim the gospel, live in light of the gospel, speak the gospel fluently, and allow all aspects of your life and practice to be transformed and shaped by the gospel.
DEVOTED TO THE BREAKING OF BREAD
The early church was devoted to gathering together and breaking bread. Thus, we encourage you to seek to be in constant fellowship with others outside of community groups and in individual homes. Invite others to your home to share a meal. Open your home for Bible studies, or to spend time with one another. Don’t wait to be called. Make the call to someone else. Don’t wait to be served. Serve someone else by inviting them to your home for a meal. Seek one another, encourage one another, and pray for one another in these times. Acts says that the disciples received food with glad and generous hearts. This should be our hearts’ postures when we gather together to break bread.
DEVOTED TO THE PRAYERS
Finally, the church was devoted to the prayers. At CityLights we believe that prayer is a faith issue. Prayer causes us to seek God and trust Him more, acknowledging that apart from Him we can do nothing. Prayer is a constant reminder that we need God. Consequently, a lack of prayer means we don’t trust God as much and don’t submit to Him as much as we ought. We encourage and exhort you to take time daily to pray. We encourage and exhort our Community Group Leaders to devote chunks of time in Community Groups to prayer. We also have prayer focuses in our corporate gatherings. Starting in February we will have a corporate prayer meeting. We believe in the power of prayer and its essential place in the life of a growing disciple of Jesus. Our corporate monthly prayer meetings will give you a chance to come together with the body of Christ to seek God together with your brothers and sisters for prayer and confession (James 5:16) and remove the spirit of disunity (Matthew 5:23-24).
COVENANT MEMBERSHIP AT CITYLIGHTS CHURCH
Beginning in February, 2015, CityLights Church will introduce our membership process to help you become a formal member and enter into covenant membership with the local body of CityLights Church and with its leaders. The elders of CityLights church will also be in covenant relationship to the local body. We believe that the next logical step for our church is to begin a formal church membership process, through which you will be able to become a covenant member of CityLights Church. A healthy church has many components, one of which is church membership. The reason we use the word “member” is because 1 Corinthians 12:14-27 uses the word “member” in a body analogy.
“14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts,[a] yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” – 1 Corinthians 12:14-27
This body analogy has both a local and global meaning. Christ is the head of the universal church in Ephesians 1, but here in 1 Corinthians 12 we see a head with eyes and ears – the members of a local body. As John Piper says, “A covenant member is somebody who, committed to a people, a people who hear the word of God preached, a people who perform the ordinances that Jesus gave his church (Baptism and Lord’s Supper), and a people who commit to the ‘one another’ commandments (love each other, exhort each other, admonish each other, hold each other accountable).”
We desire here at CityLights that you do not resist signing your name on a line for something like this – something that will be essential in your spiritual maturity.
In the month of February we will begin teaching a two week membership class which will be given by an elder in your community group. Please make every effort to attend your Community Group for these classes. It is our hope and prayer that you will join us in this journey together as we seek formal membership and enter into covenant relationship with one another. It is the desire and prayer of the body of elders at CityLights church to see the flock grow like never before in 2015.
The body of elders at CityLights Church
Eddie Leon (lead elder), Fabian Garcia (executive elder), Eliot Velazquez (executive elder), Shawn Procter (lay elder), David Diaz (lay elder), Adolfo Alvarez (lay elder), Lucas Rivera (lay elder)
To learn more about church membership and why it is a necessary component to a healthy New Testament church read the following blog for your reference. https://www.lightinthecity.com/church-membership-faq/
You may sign up to become a member of CityLights Church by clicking on this link – https://www.lightinthecity.com/membership-application/