It’s been fun trying to explain to explain my new role in our organisation to people.
“I used to work for an IEC”, I say.
“But now I’m employed by an F.”
Each letter of our acronym and each word in our title is significant. I wouldn’t say that they each bear equal significance, but together they paint a picture of who we are and what we are on about.
Let’s start with independent. This doesn’t, or at least it shouldn’t, mean that we are a bunch of lone rangers. We’re not to be a motley bunch of mavericks who despise denominations, resent others having input to our decisions, or simply can’t get along with anyone else. ‘Independent’ mustn’t describe an unwillingness to fellowship with other believers or an isolationist mindset—this is profoundly unChristian. It simply affirms the fact that each church is self-governed, with its own constitution, leaders, and ways of doing things. I’d like to think that we are little ‘i’ independents!
So how do we function as a fellowship? While upholding the independent governance of each church, we share a vision for reaching Australia with the gospel of Jesus through planting and building healthy evangelical churches. We understand that together we can teach and learn, and give and gain, to and from each other. We can pool resources, encourage one another in our shared vision, share our joys, and carry one another’s burdens. We can seek to build one another through teaching from God’s word at conferences and courses, and commit to regular prayer for our members. Together, we can share ideas, learn from others’ experiences, cooperate in ventures, and provide help to those who need guidance and support.
Ours is a fellowship that is shaped by firm beliefs. We are unashamedly evangelical. We are persuaded that true Christianity is evangelical in its very essence. That is, people are reconciled into relationship with God, and churches are created and grow, through the work of God’s ‘evangel’—the good news that Jesus Christ was crucified for the forgiveness of sins and was raised physically from the dead to rule over God’s world. We learn this good news from the Bible—not people’s best ideas about God, but God’s specific revelation of himself.
Finally, we are a fellowship of churches—evangelically persuaded and independently governed churches. We don’t view FiEC as ‘our church’, ‘the church’, or even ‘a church’. Rather, we are a network or ‘denomination’ comprised of many churches who voluntarily take steps to fellowship with one another in various ways. It is impractical for all of our churches to meet together—we are scattered across this vast country. However, we seek to gather members of each of our churches together at different events during the year so as to encourage personal and practical fellowship. The official representatives of each church—usually the senior pastors—meet together at formal meetings of the FiEC to review, plan, and pray for our fellowship.
Many of you will know that I’ve recently taken on a new job. I’m now over 3 weeks into working as the National Director for the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches in Australia. This is a ‘start up’ role and I’m currently working out where I need to get to, checking my bearings, and mapping out the routes I will need to take.
A big part of this role will focus on communication. Sharing the vision for who we are and who we are seeking to become. It will be my job to be the CRO of the organisation—what Patrick Lencioni describes as the ‘Chief Reinforcement Officer’. It’s easy for us to grow forgetful, get distracted, experience mission drift, live off the past, or get tired and merely go through the motions. God’s word calls us not to grow weary or stop caring.
Our vision under God is to grow healthy gospel-shaped churches throughout this land (and beyond). We need to keep one other on target, on mission, and focused on what matters most. I pray that God will use me in a small way to keep reinforcing his message.