Perhaps the greatest theological challenge of most believers is this: although they believe that the grace of God is enough to justify, forgive, and pardon them, they functionally believe that future growth and progress will be the result of their hard work and striving. In other words, Jesus got this ball rolling, but I’ll have to take it from here.
Please don’t miss this, when we allow our sanctification (ongoing progress) to feed on our justification (finished work), we thrive. But when the opposite occurs, we base the stability of our justification on the instability of our sanctification, and we fall deeper into sin and despair. It was the unmerited favor and work of Jesus that saved us, and it is the unmerited favor and work of Jesus that grows us. Thus, we acknowledge that transformation is not the result of trying harder, but beholding more deeply the grace and person of Jesus. Just as the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, when the people gazed upon it, they were changed. When we gaze upon Christ and Him crucified, we are transformed.
We long to be God-seekers. We seek first. We dream of ministry defined by its 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 commandment 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 and stories as well as the ultimate teaching and 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.
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. In everything we do – from the individual, to microchurches, to large group gatherings – we strive to impart what Jesus has entrusted to us to the next generation, who will then reproduce that to the next generation. We want to make disciples that make disciples and have a passion to do this at every level.
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 5,000 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.
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 good 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.
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.
Humility & Leadership
We commit to pursue humility as one of the chief virtues, particularly those who exercise leadership in our body. We expect it not only in leadership, but in community and relationships, in our theology, in our prayer, and even in our appraisal of ourselves and others as well. 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.
Missions & Generosity
We are a movement of generosity. In a culture held captive by greed, we renounce the idolatry of materialism and embrace the call to give of ourselves and our possessions. We aim to give 50% of all that we spend to missions, church planting, and the poor. This requires faith. We are also a movement of wisdom. We choose how to give and where to partner by acknowledging that good intentions are not enough. Helping people and sending missionaries requires wisdom in order to not hurt the very people we are trying to help. We embrace a holistic approach to missions by reaching out to the whole person in order to meet both spiritual and physical needs. With Jesus as our example, we make disciples who make disciples, both locally and globally. We are a sending church. We weep for the persecuted church, and for the 40% of the world who live without access to the Gospel. We are devoted to planting churches and sending more laborers. We serve the poor, the orphan, the widow, and the foreigner so Jesus can be made known on earth as in heaven.
We long for people to be whole, in spirit, soul, and body.
Central to wholeness is a passion for integrity. It is extremely possible to be more gifted than godly – and this is a dangerous reality. Hence, we call for people who are greater on the inside than on the outside. Wholeness also demands holiness. We must be fluent in dealing with darkness in biblically effective ways. We will not gloss over the seriousness of sin or the constant temptation to religious pride. This means we deal with both legalistic self-righteousness and lawless unrighteousness. This means we look at fruits, but we deal with roots. Wholeness also demands freedom. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Disciples are to recognize the sobering reality that, until the Lord returns, we have a spiritual battle on our hands. We recognize this reality and are diligent to resist the devil so that as Scripture says, he will flee. Ongoing wholeness will ultimately be the result of beholding and abiding in Jesus.