The “Fine Print”. Madison Mennonite Church has created structures that support our commitment to leadership and ministry of the laity. Leadership is focused on those who are selected for leadership positions on a year by year basis. Read on if you are interested in more detail about the structures by which MMC operates:
Being a Member of the Community
For most purposes, membership is defined by active participation in the church. Individuals who attend worship and other church activities regularly may consider themselves members and will come to be acknowledged as members by others. Membership and full participation in the life of the church is available to all without regard to sexual orientation, gender, socio-economic background, ethnicity or race. In this form, membership reflects the belief that our life together is to be centered in Christ. Those who are led to “belong” may consider themselves to a member.
Formal membership is not required for full participation in the life of the church community. For some purposes, formal membership in Madison Mennonite Church may be established through a covenant-type membership, in which members agree to support the mission statement (given below) of MMC and to participate actively in church life:
We are a church in the Madison area coming together through different experiences of the love, forgiveness and peace of God in Christ Jesus. Believing God draws us into fellowship, we accept and practice the disciplines of love and together seek God’s will. Drawing upon the Anabaptist-Mennonite faith heritage, we refuse violence and seek ways to promote peace and justice for all. We want our life together to be a contemporary interpretation of the unique life and ministry of Jesus, whom we seek to follow in today’s world. Our mission is to continue discovering life in Christ, to invite others to share in that life, and to seek and respond to opportunities for service.
This formal membership process was adopted by MMC shortly after formation of the church and was designed to serve two main purposes. First, in most years our congregation sees many changes in membership and this format for membership acknowledges the importance of an active commitment for those who participate in church life for a year, or two, or longer. It also provides a mechanism by which those who wish to officially transfer membership from another church to MMC may do so. Secondly, the formal membership process satisfies certain needs for a “membership count”, for example by the wider Mennonite churches or for tax purposes, and those who participate in the formal membership covenant are included in this count.
Participation in Church Life
The level of participation in church life and leadership varies greatly and depends on the comfort level, skills, talents, and calling of each of us. Everyone is invited to complete an “Opportunities for Service” form periodically, typically once or twice a year. This check-off form is used to indicate ways in which we choose to participate in and contribute to church life. Some examples include worship planning, leading singing, teaching Sunday school, serving in a leadership role, planning social events, and participating in small groups.
MMC makes decisions about congregational life by consensus. We do not vote on issues of importance to the church. Consensus is achieved through discussion and conversation about issues in advance of and at specified congregational meetings. We strive to listen to the spirit speaking through each and every person in these discussions. The congregation appoints Moderators who oversee church meetings and who give special attention to listening and guiding the discussion as the congregation moves towards common decisions.
Leadership and Leadership Structures
Organized leadership is centered in the Church Life Committee (CLC). The committee is composed of the chair, two members-at-large, administrator, and the pastor(s), or a member-at-large if the church has no pastor.
How the Congregation Identifies and Appoints Leaders
Each year, in the fall, the CLC appoints a Gifts Discernment Committee. This committee, in consultation with the CLC, the entire congregation, and in prayerful consideration with each other, discerns who is well suited to fill the leadership positions for the year. A list is presented to the congregation and an opportunity is provided for consideration and discussion of concerns. When a satisfactory decision is reached, the new leadership team is presented to the congregation for affirmation, and the leadership transitions take place around the beginning of April.
Stewardship and Contributions
Public offerings are not typically taken on Sunday. Instead, contributions may be left in a box on the literature table provided for this purpose or given to the treasurer. Congregants can also set up a regular bank transfer to provide ongoing support to the church. Members are encouraged to contribute to the financial care of the church, which includes the pastor’s salary and benefits, rental of church space, education materials, community mission and special church funds.
Because we believe that care and support for persons in the larger church community is important, funds for missions and ministries are allocated in the church budget. Special offerings are taken on occasions to support special needs in MMC, the Madison community or the needs of the wider church community.