Our church’s core values are posted on our website but I want to take a brief opportunity to rephrase and expand on what we mean by those core values. I have tried to rephrase these values as “loves” since you value what you love. What you love you also pursue, so when we hold these things as values they also form what we aim for – our vision and our daily and long-term goals.
Unstated in this list of values is one that is foundational to all of them: We love God. We seek to glorify Him in all we do.
We love God’s Word (Biblical Truth)
We love the Bible because it teaches us about God. It is God Word to us.
We believe that the Bible is trustworthy and without error. We do not need to wonder whether or not it is telling us the truth. Because God never lies – he cannot – neither can his word. It is therefore also our authority. While interpretations of it may vary, it still wins the argument. We also believe that God’s word is sufficient. It gives us everything we need for life and godliness. This is why we preach from it every Sunday and while we meditate on it in weekly Bible studies. There are many other sources of good information, but the Bible will always remain our primary source. Finally, we believe that the Bible is clear, in the sense that its basic truths can be understood by anyone. Because it is accessible to all we all wrestle through it together. Certainly, there are many parts that are hard to understand, but it does not follow that only certain people, with particular degrees, can understand its plain meaning.
We aim as a church, then, to grow in our knowledge of God’s Word and to together apply it to our lives.
We love God’s People (Loving Community)
Certainly, we are called to love the whole world, but we have a particular responsibility to love the local church. This love contains within it a goal and that goal is that we might become the mature body of Christ, firm in the faith and in the knowledge of God. There are many ways we demonstrate this love for one another but there are four called out in Ephesians 4 which I will briefly mention.
- We aim to speak the truth in love.
- We aim to use our gifts for acts of service, or to equip others for acts of service.
- We aim to practice humility and deference to the needs of others.
- We make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bonds of peace.
How does this play out? We aim to right any wrongs as quickly as possible. If there is a disagreement about preferential matters, we try to defer to the desires of others. It’s OK, even great, when I don’t get “what I want.” Even when we disagree about a particular we try to remain united in what we can all agree on and stay united to the mission God has given us.
We Trust Our Heavenly Father (Trusting God)
To state in terms of love: We love obedience to God greater than we love our own “success.” Or, to put it another way, our “success” is measured in terms of our obedience to God. This is really just another way of self-evaluation. Our primary criteria for self-evaluation isn’t the size of our church or of a particular ministry, but whether or not we are doing the things God has called us to do and not doing the things God has forbidden. This frees us to focus on obedience, which is within our control, instead of results, which are given by our gracious heavenly Father in whom we put our trust.
Of course, we rejoice in growth, and how people are responding to the gospel is one of the criteria we measure ourselves by, but it is not the ultimate criteria.
We love God’s Word (Gospel Mission)
We are inspired by the love of God for us and we are compelled by his command to go into the world and make disciples. We do not exist for our own sake but we are sent, like Jesus was sent, because of God’s love for all mankind (see John 3:16).
We have a mission and that mission is to make disciples, to proclaim the good news of Jesus and call people to follow Jesus in every aspect of their lives, including obedience to the call to “make disciples.” This is how we live out love for God’s world.
This mission is holistic. The gospel is an essential component, but not the only component. People are whole people – body and spirit – and we are called to love them in that way. And so we seek to meet the physical needs of our community (and worldwide communities) and their spiritual needs as well.
What does this mean for our church? We aim to do this in a variety of ways, most obviously through our After School program, but we always need to be open to other ways of reaching out to the community God has placed us in.