Piedmont Fellowship-Tobaccoville, North Carolina-W. David Ward

PiedmontGod is showing us how to care for one another.  Through job losses and gains, births, illnesses and deaths, through physically and spiritually trying times … He has given us ample opportunities to carry each other’s burdens.  We also practice servanthood outside of our group through service to Christian camps.  Our children are more vocal … because they are allowed to be.  As they share what the scripture has shown them, their confidence builds and their spiritual formation strengthens.  The dialog nature of our togetherness usually keeps everyone’s attention, following the day to day learning through conversation.  He is making us feel good about His church.

We have returned to the meeting style of the first century church as recorded in the book of Acts.  To be more specific, we meet together weekly in several venues, rejoicing in what God has done in our lives and in the lives of those around us.  We bring our needs not only to God, but to each other where we find earthly support and comfort.  Our meetings occur out in the world where life happens, not within the potentially restrictive walls of a conventional church building.  We have met in state and county parks, in restaurants, and in homes.  Our main fellowship times and some of our other weekly events always include a full meal, as we see that was a part of the first century gatherings.  We operate in a simple manner, as we feel that the complexity of an organization contributes greatly to taking our eyes and ears off God and His mission for us.  This simplistic approach often clashes with the forms, procedures, and practices of a denomination and of “church” as it is most often understood, but we are using these experiences and His leadership to gradually and gracefully introduce what some church leaders see as the church of tomorrow.

From the perspective of handling finances, after several months we finally decided to adopt the approach that the group’s financial responsibilities be placed on our own personal shoulders.  We documented procedures explaining how we can make contributions to the existing programs and groups within the structure of the Church of the Nazarene, as well as for the health and welfare ministries of our local communities.  As our group has benefited from District activities in the SDMI and NYI areas, we have given financial offerings to help support those programs.  This approach to financial matters is also part of the simple manner in which the organic church best functions, and it helps to squelch the attitude that “all the church wants is my money”.

Our personal accountability has often been questioned or viewed as non-existent, as many view the lack of a human hierarchy as evidence that we are accountable to no-one.  No one of us is more important to the church, nor does any one person have control over another … we are all on the same level.  Each of us, whether in an organic or traditional church, is accountable to God, and His word provides our direction to which we must be held accountable.  Open dialogue in each meeting shows publicly how each person’s walk with Christ is going.  The sharing of scripture and other items read during the week as part of daily devotions helps indicate our individual spiritual health.  By placing the practice of stewardship giving to others back on us as individuals, we are made accountable for what God has given to us through our giving to others.  By meeting often in a home/family setting, our lives have become an open book for others to read the pages … this alone has provided an additional factor of accountability that is not usually seen in the church building where you put your best face forward.

Our mission is simple … “to disciple”.  We keep things simple because the execution of a simple task is much easier and quicker to do than the execution of a complex one.  Being simple, we can usually react quickly to a need that arises without requiring the “approval” of someone else … we take personal responsibility.  Acts of discipling and being discipled become our responsibility, not that of a pastor role.  Unfortunately, a “pastor” often becomes an authority figure between us and God, and our accountability somehow gets diverted to the pastor.  To us, discipleship and accountability go hand-in-hand.   Here is what some of our people are saying about the role that Piedmont Fellowship plays in their lives:

It gives our family freedom to worship in less traditional setting putting ourselves on a more personal level with freedom of expression. We develop personal relationships and make friends--- Amy

I enjoy the fellowship and I am always thirsty to get into the word of God. --- John

We like seeing our friends and talk about God --- Trenton, Christian, Daniel, Jonavyn

I most appreciate learning together as we strive to be better disciples as we make disciples. ---Sharon

It is an awesome feeling each time we meet and see the Holy Spirit assemble a personal message for each of us through each of us, right in front of our eyes. --- David

I’m glad it’s back to the way church is supposed to be – the meeting of “the body.” --- Bethany

I enjoy the ease of worship, and that fellowship and discipleship is a continual part of our meetings.  I appreciate that we get to come together, have a meal, and share our Sabbath as family. --- John

I like the closeness.  The kids and adults really get to know each other. --- Sharon

We like the sense of being together for one purpose, Gods purpose and not individual agendas. There is joyfulness in gathering in a non-structural environment to worship God together. ---  Al & Patricia

At Piedmont Fellowship, we share more than just a pew at church, we share our lives, our ups and downs, our joys and sorrows.  We break bread together.  We are not just a congregation, we’re a family. --- Shawn

I like that we’re family; and we are all able to share our hearts in service, even the children. --- Crystal

Everyone feels like family. --- Sarah

I like that we all put our input in; we take part together in church.  And I like that everyone stays around and socializes after forever …. --- David

I like having it all at a different house every Sunday and having potluck every time.  I also like that everyone can share their thoughts in the service. --- Isaac

I like going to the Ward’s house because of the trains and toys. --- Thomas

I like that we can play together with our friends …. --- Elijah

I like being together every Sunday and getting fellowship and reading the Bible together. --- Grace

We all participate in worship, rather than being a silent audience.  Each one has a gift and is encouraged to use it. --- Karen

Looking forward to living out what God has planned for us,

The People of Piedmont Fellowship