It may seem odd, but it’s actually more essential to our mission to change what people care about than to change what they believe. Statistics prove this to be true. It is not what we call beliefs, but our values and emotions that influence the way we live. No wonder Jesus said to love God with all of our mind and strength as well as our heart. He wants our feelings. Our soul. Our passion. Our ethos.
Ethos is like a tribal fire. It’s the fuel of our caring and heat of our passions. Erwin McManus describes it as the “e-motion of a community. The fundamental character or spirit; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, and practices of a group or society … To simplify, an ethos is expressed through spontaneous, recurring patterns.” Keep this in mind and think culture. Here are our passions.
Scripture makes it very clear: It starts with Jesus. It ends with Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. And that means it's not about us. Everything we do is to point people to Him. We long to embrace both individually and as a church body John the Baptist's prayer: "You must become greater; I must become less". In preaching, microchurches, ministry, and anything we do, we seek to exalt the name of Jesus as the name above every name. We can't help but draw attention back to the one who has loved and done so much for us.
We long to be God-seekers. We seek first. We dream of ministry defined by it’s pursuit of God, so that it is so very clear that He alone is glorious. We see no need for another successful, natural church characterized by business principles, human striving, and natural talent – with a Jesus label attached. At the center of our leadership is a leveraging of our influence to cause people to radically seek God. Scripture is saturated with promises for those who respond to God in prayer, thus we respond. We have discovered that holistic mission and true community are the natural outgrowth of an organic pursuit of God. So this is first. The first command is our first priority.
We are utterly committed to the authority of the Scriptures and believe that God’s ability to preserve His Word is greater than humanity’s ability to corrupt it. God has spoken. We agree with Spurgeon: the Bible is like a lion. It needs no defense; just open the cage. We take a redemptive-historical approach to Scripture with a mind for both the specific teachings & stories as well as the ultimate teaching & story of Jesus and His redemption. We do not approach the Bible as a moralistic self-help exercise centered on us, but God’s revelation centered on Him.
It’s tragic. The world has gone spiritual while most churches have gone secular. We are convinced that the fruit, power, and gifts of the Spirit must be the regular experience of the church. The contemporary church has neglected the Spirit. Although we cannot predict or control how the Spirit may move, we pray for and open ourselves to His promptings. We strongly encourage regular infillings & the stirring of every member’s gifts (especially in their microchurches).
"Go and make disciples." These were the final words of Jesus and encompass our call and purpose here on earth. We take this very seriously. It is the Great Commission, not the Great Suggestion. We are called to baptize and teach everything Jesus has commanded us and so we have made this our life pursuit because it was His life pursuit when Jesus was here on earth. We willingly sacrifice our time, our agendas, and our lives for the purpose of disciple making.
In the Bible “church” was not a weekly service; it was the reality of God’s people gathered. Where you find true worship, community, and mission, you find “church”, whether in a group of 5000 or five. Especially inspired by the book of Acts, we value both the large and micro expressions to make true disciples. But both are “church”. Because spiritual formation happens in the process of doing, not just hearing, we see the need for real people making face-to- face and heart-to-heart contact with other believers in safe and authentic ways. Thus we call people to re-orient their lives around Jesus and His community in order to live a biblical lifestyle of discipleship.
We hear the call of God to make a prophetic stand against all forms of evil in our city and our world. Because Jesus made our problems His problems, we make this world’s problems our problems. We intend to take action where we have power: giving a voice to the voiceless, empowering the downcast, and helping the oppressed both locally and globally. We seek to combat injustice and poverty at every level as a church body, as microchurches, and as individuals.
We remember the poor because God does. Because all of us are poor in some way. We believe the poor are central to God’s mission in the world. Scripture simply does not allow us to divorce God's heart from the plight of the poor. There are also elements of Jesus that are only experienced and revealed through the shared brokenness with the poor and poor in spirit. God has stood with and advocated for the poor throughout the ages, and we simply find ourselves following Him in that pursuit.
The eternal souls of humans matter to God, so they matter to us. We try to create environments that are non-threatening, open to questions, and saturated with love; yet we do not run from the call to bring the great news of Jesus to every person in our lives and in this world. We expect all microchurches to equip their members to love others enough to invest in their lives and then invite them to faith. There is a prophetic call on our church for harvest, so we will go after the lost with not only a fierce and tenacious love but with the confidence that we have been set apart by God to do so.
In a culture held captive by greed, we renounce the idolatry of materialism and embrace the call to give of ourselves and our possessions. Our goal is 51% of all expenditures to go toward missions and the poor. We will share because it promotes relationship and breaks the bondage of possessiveness. In sharing what we have with others we confess that God is the true owner and that we are only stewards in his vineyard. We will pursue relentless generosity and the holding of all things in common.
We feel passionately about being a church that reflects the beauty of God’s mosaic. Despite the challenges we hear the call to demonstrate the power of the Gospel through reconciliation and unity in a world of hatred and division. We value every people, language, class, and culture in our city and in the world. We believe that the church is meant to demonstrate the power of the gospel through reconciliation, unity, and the beauty demonstrated when dissimilar people become one in the name of Jesus. For that reason we do not just admire multi-cultural communities, but purpose to become one.
We are tired of the superficial. Because the way of Jesus cannot be lived alone, authentic community must saturate every part of our congregation’s life. Nothing hinders such community like the mask-wearing, image maintenance now famous in organized religious circles. We endeavor to create environments that encourage the genuine sharing of life, as well as an organizational culture of humility.
We commit to pursue humility as one of the chief virtues. We expect it in leadership, in community and relationships, in our theology, in our prayer, and even in our appraisal of ourselves and others. We are convinced that humility is necessary for following Jesus as an individual and as a church body. We believe in the living prophetic word of God, that it can be heard and obeyed, yet we also believe that we are flawed listeners and should always listen and follow with humility.
Every living thing on this earth is designed to reproduce. Trees reproduce more trees. Fish reproduce more fish. Humans reproduce more humans. Life gives birth to new life. It reproduces. It multiplies. In the same way, disciples reproduce disciples. Multiplication is the natural by-product of growth and the way DNA is transferred from one generation to the next. We see this as no different regarding spiritual DNA. We strive to impart what Jesus has entrusted to us to the next generation, who will then reproduce that into the next generation with everything we do: from the individual, to microchurches, to large group gatherings. We want to make disciples that make disciples and have a passion to do this at every level.
Download our Core Documents to read through our Fluencies in even more detail.