Rockford Reformed Church Leadership Principles
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Relationships

God the Father is a relational being. God created people for relationship with Him. God desires to have fellowship with us and to love us. Building and maintaining open and caring relationships are vital to connect people to Jesus Christ and to encourage them to grow in their relationship with Him. Leaders and volunteers shepherd and serve others by actively listening, gently guiding, and responding to their needs.

A. Relationship Essentials

  • Prayer invites God into our relationships with others. Prayer unifies and strengthens the relationships with other leaders and with those you are shepherding and serving. (see Praying Scriptures)
  • Teamwork requires regular, consistent communication, cooperation, and coordination. Leaders, volunteers, and teams that support each other create a healthy environment and a culture of discipleship.
  • Conflict resolution enables relationships to move forward graciously and quickly. Do not be quick to judge people, decisions, or situations. Assume right motives are involved. Freely and humbly forgive others as Christ has forgiven you (Colossians 3:13, Ephesians 4:32). Meet in person to pray and talk through solutions that honor God and preserve relationships. If conflict remains despite all efforts to resolve, contact the pastor or an elder for further guidance to pursue reconciliation (Matthew 18:15-17, Luke 17).

B. Relationship with God

Leaders and volunteers depend on God and passionately pursue a relationship with him through worship, bible study, prayer, and fellowship with others. Your personal relationship with and love for him should motivate you in service to others. Your leadership and service tasks should never take precedence over developing and strengthening your own relationship with him through prayer and bible study.

C. Relationships with Family and Friends

God’s call to leadership and serving comes to busy people with families, friends, work, and church responsibilities. Anticipate schedule changes and inform those you love. Ask for their prayers. To avoid family conflict and burnout, set specific times for study, prayer, and preparation that protects time for your loved ones. Pray for those you love to see your service as an offering to God.

D. Relationships within Rockford Reformed Church

Jesus Christ is the head of the church. The church is the body of Jesus Christ. Leaders model a culture that supports the church and fosters discipleship. Pray for a love of our church that demonstrates the heart of Christ (see Praying for the Church). Promote church membership, participation, and service. Build up the church by employing humility and sensitivity as its many members bring various viewpoints, ideas, and gifts. Promote loyalty and intervene graciously by welcoming suggestions and discouraging criticism. Recognize the diversity of God’s people and uphold unity and integrity in all circumstances.

  • The pastor is commissioned by the Reformed Church in America and is commissioned, trained, authorized, and supervised by the North Grand Rapids Classis to preach the Word and celebrate the sacraments, among other official duties. The pastor serves as a spiritual leader over the congregation, furthering the work of the church while leading others into a growing relationship with Christ. The pastor serves on the Administrative Board and mentors, supports, and holds accountable staff and program leaders in their ministry and missions work. Regularly pray for the pastor (see Praying for the Pastor). Never hesitate to contact or meet with the pastor when you are in need of prayer, encouragement, guidance, or need help to resolve conflict so that you may persevere in God’s call to lead and serve others.
  • The consistory team governs the church and is made up of the Administrative Board, six Shepherd Elders, and six Service Deacons. Elders and Deacons are nominated and elected by the congregation to three year terms. Elders’ responsibilities include sacraments, discipline, visits, correspondence, and membership. Deacons’ responsibilities include receiving the offering, Helping Hands, Deacon Service Network, and stewardship education. Regularly pray for God’s wisdom and discernment as they move church ministry and missions towards its goals. 
  • The congregation is divided into six care groups, each assigned a Shepherd Elder and a Service Deacon. The groups have been organized by phase of life so members will find commonality within their group. The goal is to provide care, communication, and information to the congregation as often and as effectively as possible. Please help the elder/deacon teams by contacting them directly or calling the church office when there is an illness, hospitalization, birth, death, or other emergency in your family or those you serve. Never hesitate to contact any elder or deacon when you are in need of prayer, encouragement, guidance, or help to resolve conflict so that you may persevere in God’s call to lead and serve others. (see Scriptures for Needs, Healing, and Encouragement)
  • The office staff are vital to the life and the daily operations of the church. Administrative assistants answer phones, keep records, order supplies, oversee building use, prepare payroll, and support the pastor and ministry leaders, along with many other duties, including maintaining RRC’s website and online presence as well as print and electronic communications. Maintaining healthy, regular, and consistent communication and information sharing provide the best environment to support the church and foster discipleship.
  • The ministry program staff direct and coordinate worship services and age-specific Christian education classes, programs, clubs, retreats, trips, and events. Program staff partner with individuals, families, and the community in faith formation and opportunities for service. They help to equip and develop program leaders and volunteers spiritually to effectively and passionately serve others. They encourage regular participation through prayer, relationship, and shepherding. Maintaining healthy, regular, and consistent communication of information and resource sharing provides the best environment to support the church and foster discipleship. Never hesitate to contact staff when you are in need of prayer, encouragement, guidance, or help to resolve conflict, so that you may persevere in God’s call to lead and serve others.
  • Particular ministry programs may assign a ministry team consisting of a small group of leaders and volunteers to assist the ministry program staff or team leader with program vision, steering, planning, and scheduling. Additional functions may include budget oversight. Pray for God’s wisdom and discernment as they move their ministry program towards its goals.
  • The church and ministry programs depend on leaders and volunteers with gifts in governing, administration, leading groups, teaching, mentoring, hospitality, technology, and many more. The willingness to serve reflects the personal impact of God’s Word and gratitude to Him. Recognize the spiritual benefits of serving, not just fulfilling logistical needs of programs. Trust God as he develops your gifts and skills. Developing your power in witness, service, and relationship with others flows from God’s grace and a personal relationship with him, not from your own effort. Pray for God’s wisdom and discernment. God changes others’ lives through you.   
  • Members, guests, and participants join and attend our church services and programs by God’s design. God has called you to love, nurture, and respond to those in his church body. Demonstrate God’s desire for relationship with him and his people through worship, fellowship, conversation, and interaction with individuals and families regardless of age, background, circumstances, or spiritual maturity. Take care not to let established, familiar, or comfortable relationships overshadow developing or strengthening newer ones. Always strive to invite, include, and inform individuals and families of opportunities for fellowship, faith formation, and service. 

E. Relationships within Ministry Programs

God created people to be dependent on him and on one another. God expects us to work together as a united group with a common spirit and purpose. Good teamwork is necessary because we are limited physically, intellectually, and spiritually. By recognizing and accepting one another’s gifts and skills, we will be able to fulfill the purpose that God has for our church and its ministry and missions work. Keep up healthy, regular, and consistent communications with program leaders, volunteers, participants, and their families. Ask how you may pray for them personally and spiritually and schedule regular time to do so. If someone is discouraged, think how best to encourage them. Mutual care and concern is crucial to build strong programs to fulfill the mission of the church.

F. Relationships with Other Ministry Programs

Each ministry program should not only think about what is good for their own group, but other programs as well. Keeping in regular communication and sharing ideas and best practices maximizes resources and eliminates duplication of work. God strengthens relationships and multiplies discipleship efforts when programs work together to fulfill the mission of the church.

G. Relationships within the Community

God calls the church to help struggling neighbors physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Our church’s vision is to always be a living reflection of Christ’s hands, feet, and voice in our community. Our church partners with local community service organizations, schools, businesses, and other churches to meet basic life needs or to provide special programs, services, and events. Building trusting relationships inspires others to want to know how your relationship with God inspires you to be with them. This is key to connect people to Jesus Christ and encourage them to grow in their relationship with him. Be prayerful and mindful of opportunities to invite neighbors and friends to worship services, fellowship events, bible studies, and programs.

H. Relationships with Program Members and Participants

Jesus Christ provides the relationship model of the Good Shepherd, servant leader, spiritual leader, and facilitator. The ultimate goal of a leader and volunteer should not be the replication of oneself in another’s life, but rather Christ-likeness (1 Corinthians 11:1). Placing the interests of others above your own (Philippians 2:3-4) helps to invest in the lives of God’s people and to prepare them for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4:12). 

I. Approach to Relationship and Shepherding

  • Leading and serving others through prayer. Understanding and accepting the responsibility to pray for others is vital to growing God’s kingdom. Pray in faith and trust God to work as he desires. Be systematic, steadfast, and specific in praying for those you lead and serve. Pray fervently to be led by the Holy Spirit to the exact personal and spiritual needs of each person for whom you are praying. Pray specifically that God’s Word will be taken as the only authority and fountain of joy in this life (Psalm 119). Use a passage of scripture to help you (see Praying Scriptures). Seeing God answer prayer also builds confidence, perseverance, and the ability to pray boldly for all things.
  • Leading and serving others through active listening. One of the basic needs of people is to be understood. Being listened to makes people feel valued, respected, loved, and appreciated. An active listener is empathetic, caring, and sees others’ concerns from their perspective. An active listener, however, does not make judgements, fix people, give personal advice, or create a relationship of dependence. Instead, the use of thoughtful and discerning questions help to acquire knowledge (Proverbs 18:15), to make room for the work of the Holy Spirit, and to effectively pray for others.
  • Leading and serving others through gentle guidance.

The Bible: The leader and volunteer’s heart and mind is established in the truth of God’s Word in order to get God’s results. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). (see Suggested Scriptures for Shepherding)

The Holy Spirit: The leader and volunteer allows the Holy Spirit to lead and is filled with the Spirit’s fruit of gentleness, knowing that others’ salvation and spiritual growth is far more important than pride (2 Timothy 2:24-25).

A loving attitude: The leader and volunteer understands that love is a choice and not a feeling. They choose to love, encourage, and serve others. It is the choice to be kind, to sacrifice, to consider another’s needs greater than one’s own (Philippians 2:3). True love is not expecting love in return.

Personal testimony: By sharing your journey of faith, you personalize the Gospel message (see What We Believe, the Basics) and its impact on people’s lives today. Through hearing how you have come to a certainty about your salvation and how God has made a difference in your life, you help others discover how they, too, can know God personally. (see Writing Your Personal Faith Story; view samples)

  • Leading and serving others through response to needs. The leader and volunteer is committed to meeting the needs of others; a humility that is willing to pick up the servant’s towel (John 13:12-15) regardless of one’s status in life. Active listening and thoughtful questions often reveal where another’s life needs are not being met. The Godly response is to be proactive, not reactive. In doing so yourself, you are attaching more value to the person than to what is being said. This demonstrates genuine compassion and concern. Seek out and work with the pastor, elder/deacon team, other ministry teams, and community service organizations to arrange for meals and care ministry, pastoral counseling, or special referrals. (see Care & Safety Policy: Social & Emotional Safety – pages 14-16)