What comes to mind when you think of church? What values, emotions, convictions come to mind? I’ve mentioned our desire to plant a disciple based church that’s reaching the lost, but what does that look like?
When most unchurched people think of church they believe it to be irrelevant and extreme. When they think of Christians, they think:
…antihomosexual (91%) judgmental (87%) hypocritical (85%) old-fashioned (78%) too involved in politics (75%) out of touch with reality (72%) insensitive to others (70%) boring (68%) not accepting of other faiths (64%) confusing (61%)1
Not too long ago I was talking with my guitar luthier (fancy word for maker/repairer of guitars), we got into a discussion about church and his overwhelming disapproval of Christians. He even quoted Ghandi, who famously said, ”I like your Christ, but your Christians are so unlike your christ.” I believe there are many who share his sentiment about church.
I still believe in the church. I join Bill Hybels who said:
“The hope of the world is not government, academia, business, but the church because it is to the church that God has entrusted the message of salvation, which truly changes people’s lives and hearts.”
Jesus laid out his vision for the church in John 17:20-23 - that we would be a collective body that stands as a sign and foretaste of His kingdom so that “the world would believe”:
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.
As we journey forward to plant a church, here are some values that embody what we dream of when we think of the local church:
- Prayer - it’s not about what we do or need, but about partnering with what God is already doing. We believe prayer is not just rattling off our most recent needs but rather about developing a listening posture that aligns our hearts with the Kingdom of Heaven. Prayer, both personal and corporate, calls us into submission to God and a partnership with Him in order to see His will done in our lives and the community.
- Whole person health - We see whole persons, of all ages, being set free, restored and formed by the gospel - spiritually, emotionally, socially, physically, and mentally. The gospel brings holiness/renewal/wholeness to every area of our lives. We'll resist dividing our lives into into “secular” and “sacred” compartments. Instead, we'll enjoy connection with Jesus in all areas of our lives – work, recreation, church, and parenting.
- Safe/Real/vulnerable - real with God and with each other. The extent to which we allow ourselves to be known determines my potential. We'll easily admit when we are wrong and be open about our weaknesses, failures, and mistakes. Lead out of our weakness rather than our strengths. It's in our weakness that God is made to be the strong one. Likewise, we’ll seek to develop a safe place to be ourselves, and learn what it means to be in Christ.
- Stories - we are built on stories, not facts, stats, or programs. We will emphasize the reshaping and redemption of our stories over getting a job done or building an organization. Likewise, we’ll create safe spaces for anyone to come and explore, discover, question, and contemplate how their story intersects with the story of redemption.
- Food/Table - our greatest ministry will take place around tables, not crowds. We’ll come around the Lord’s Table during our gatherings, and seek to be present with each other at the tables of our homes. We desire to slow down, put our phones away, and eat together more than the cultural average meal of 12 minutes.
- Sabbath rest / Limits - we'll regularly set aside periods in which we stop work and practice Sabbath rest. We will have sense of our emotional, relational, physical and spiritual capacities. As a result, we'll be OK with saying “no” to requests/opportunities rather than risk overextending yourself.
- Lead out of our personal health - our marriage/singleness is a starting point for gospel renewal. Healthy marriage/singleness is a sign to the world and points to the love of Christ.
- Love and conflict - We’ll seek to love others well, learn new languages of love, speak clearly, listen deeply, and master controlling ourselves, not others. We won’t avoid difficult conversations and will seek to repair relationships (as much as it is possible) when they have been ruptured.
- Family and community - we'll trumpet and promote the family unit as the building blocks of society. We’ll love children, and carve out space for them in all we do, being especially present with them. We'll seek to promote community over individualism and welcome all into the family of God.
- Multiplication over addition - We believe that our mission is in the hands of each member of the body. As Rick Warren says, "a church's strength is not determined by her seating capacity but by her sending capacity.” As Jesus was sent, so are we. It’s not so much about what we do as a church, but what we set in motion. Therefore, we are a people in motion. We’ll seek to multiply disciples, leaders, and ultimately churches.
- Incarnational - being present where God has us, learning our neighborhoods, living amongst those different than us, pursuing justice, and making sense of the gospel in our contexts.
- Spiritual Gifts - We desire to see lives renewed, the church encouraged, and the city blessed, by the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit. The charismatic gifts are not to be kept within the walls of the church.
- FUN! - The process over the end goal - our dream must always be too big. As such, we’ll enjoy the process and have a ton of fun along the way.
- White, James Emery. Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World (pp. 83-84). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. ↩︎