"Maturity" is the goal of this discipling mandate (Eph. 4:11-16). Yet such maturity has a twofold understanding. On the one hand, there is the ultimate maturity of glorification which is attained at the return of Christ (Rom. 8:29-30; 1 Cor. 2:14-3:3; Phil. 3:10-14). On the other hand, there is the functional maturity which is attainable and expected of every disciple in this age (Heb. 5:10-14; 2 Tim. 2:2; Phil. 3:15-16). Therefore, the Church's minimum expectation of every disciple should be the attaining and practice of "functional maturity." Some marks of "functional maturity" would be:
Final Stage of Functional Maturity
Daily prayer and daily time in the Word with the result that one experiences an ever increasing awareness of Christ's presence, is walking in the power of the Spirit, and has a growing knowledge of God and obedience to His Word (e.g. Mk. 1:35; 1 Thess. 3:10; Dan. 6:10; cf. Jn. 15:5-8; Acts 2:42, 46-47; Ps. 5:3; 55:17; 27:4, 8; 89:15-18; 34:1-4; 119; 9:16). This refines to a daily personal discipline of meaningful worship with the result that one by faith enters into the presence of God and Christ so that you are being discipled by our Lord in a deeply loving and personal relationship.
Doctrinal Education represents the ability to feed ones' self and to teach others from the solid food of God's Word (Heb. 5:11-14; 2 Tim. 3:14-17). Reflective of this, one should have the solid discipline of daily Bible reading, and the ability through the study of Scripture to answer questions of the faith. In addition, the mature should have a clear knowledge and understanding of the fundamental doctrines (e.g. Eph. 4:3-6, 13; Heb. 6:1, 2; Acts 2:42) represented in our Statement of Faith.
To avoid conformity to the World and realize our call to be transformed into the likeness of Christ, we must daily manage our lives by the priorities of God's Kingdom. The "Sermon on the Mount" (Mt. 5-7) teaches that we are to "seek first God's kingdom and righteousness" (6:33). The Sermon outlines what this putting first will look like in a disciple's life. Jesus instructed His diciples in prioritizing the development and demonstration of such things as 1) character (Mt. 5:12-13), 2) witness (Mt. 5:13-16), 3) righteousness (Mt. 5:17-48), 4) living in the presence of God (Mt. 6:1-18), 5) freedom from anxiety and materialism (Mt. 6:19-34), 6) caring relationships (Mt. 7:1-14), and 7) fruitfulness. These establish God's Kingdom and Righteousness as the top priorities in each disciple's life (Mt. 7:15-27). The result of living out these priorities will be a developing and visible Christlike character and lifestyle which exhibits an investment in the work of the Kingdom by a wise and balanced management of time, fruitful use of gifts, and financial giving. These demonstrate both financial freedom and faithfulness to the cause of Christ and the work of His Church.
Daily prayer and the reading of God's Word with and for one's family, especially spouse and children, so that they and your relationships with them are growing and maturing in Christ (Eph. 5:23; Col. 4:2; Eph. 6:18; Deut. 17:19).
Weekly faithfulness in worship, involvement with a small group, and one to one discipling relationships so that personal growth, equipping, love, accountability, and belonging are being experienced (Acts 2:42, 46-47; Heb. 10:24-25; 5:11-1444; 2 Tim. 2:2; Eph. 5:19).
Recognition of one's spiritual gift(s) which results in consistent involvement in a personal ministry (1 Pet. 4:10; 1 Cor. 12:7; Rom. 12: 6-8).
Equipped to witness and to share the Good News (why and how to become a Christian) by one's testimony, a personal presentation of the Gospel, and a prayer saturated plan of relationship cultivation, so that regular prayer for the lost is offered, weekly witness is given, and people are being discipled into Christ (Rev. 12:11; Mk. 5:19, Acts 1:8; 2 Tim. 1:8; Mt. 28:18-20; 1 Pet. 3:15; Col. 4:6).
Characteristic of this "functional maturity" is that the disciple is able and is, in fact, equipping others, so that those equipped in turn are able to reach "functional maturity." When this dynamic process is the foundational activity of the local church that church is standing obediently under the Headship of Christ and becomes a mighty instrument in the hand of God to effect His righteousness and holiness in this world "so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 4:11).
Four Membership Requirements
There are four necessary requirements for membership in the fellowship of Lone Hill Church:
Fivefold Leadership Ministry to the Body
Commitment to Christ
First, there is the accepted understanding that each has become a member of the Body of Christ ⎯ by public confession of his/her faith in the person and the work of Christ, embracing Him as both Savior and Lord, and by immersion into Christ (Rom. 10:10; Mt. 10:32-33; Acts 2:41; Gal. 3:27; 1 Cor. 12:13).
Commitment to Christ's Authority
Second, each member is expected to be a committed, growing, and submissive disciple of Christ. This is to be demonstrated by each one's heart attitudes and reflecting lifestyle (Mt. 16:24-27; Col. 3:22).
Commitment to Discipleship
Third, it is expected of each member to be committed to and ministering to the other members of the Body, so that each member, and thus, the Body, grows into the likeness and full measure of Christ (Eph. 4:11-16).
Commitment to the Body
Fourth, each member is expected to be committed, meeting with, and ministering to the other members of the Body for mutual growth to maturity and for the corporate growth of the Body to maturity (Eph. 4:11-16).
The Body should expect a fivefold ministry from the Leadership, the Ligaments?
The Ministry of Leading
To be led and lead by the Word and the Spirit (Acts 6:2-4; 20:28-32; 13:1-3; 15:28).
The Ministry of Equipping
To teach the Word, equip the saints, pray for the Body, and hold the Body accountable for growth in the Lord by both encouragement and rebuke (Acts 6:2-4; 20:28-32; Heb. 13:17; Col. 4:12; Phil. 1:3-6; Col. 1:9-14).
The Ministry of Shepherding
To love and shepherd the Body (Acts 20:28-32; Ez. 34:1-31).
The Ministry of Modeling
To be models and examples of walking in Christ (1 Pet. 5:1-4).
The Ministry of Accountability
To hold the other leaders personally accountable for their leadership (Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 5:19-21).
The Body must grow from the Head and through the Ligaments: "From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work" (Eph. 4:16). Our Guidelines for Ministry are our attempt to spell out briefly how this will work at Lone Hill Church,* and they are our attempt to clearly state what are the necessary commitments of the members and the leadership to accomplish the Mandate of our Lord and Savior. To the degree that we are able to work unitedly in accordance with these guidelines to that degree we will be able to experience and live in obedience with what Christ has planned for His Church. And to that degree we will become a powerful instrument for the Kingdom and Glory of God.
*For a fuller development of our Guidelines for Ministry see Lone Hill Church's "Philosophy of Ministry."