Aligning With Our Core Values

The beginning of a new year seems to be a good time for us to highlight what we are as a church community.

The first thing I want to emphasize is that we exist, not to be different. While we may be unique in some operational aspects – aspects which I sincerely believe directly influence our spiritual relationship with God and our impact in our world – we do not differ largely from most other churches in the fundamentals of our doctrine. Our primary focus, as is true for all Christ following churches, is to walk in faith and obedience to Jesus’ teachings in both spirit and practice. Understanding this fundamental principle aligns us with our Christian brothers and sisters. It does not place us in competition with them. We are allies, not adversaries.

We exist to facilitate relationships with God, one another and those within our sphere of influence. The scriptures place great emphasis upon relationship: God’s relationship with us, our relationship with God, and our relationships with others. We like to say that everything revolves around relationships because all the rest is just stuff.

We also exist as a laboratory for experimenting with ministry with the utmost of flexibility. We call that agility and it is at the core of our cultural identity. It’s the reason why we have deliberately chosen not to become too “corporate” in our structure as a group. We don’t have a CEO and department heads and worker bees. We have chosen not to be top-down in our organization but rather side-by-side. Yes, we still respond well to leadership and need leaders, but we also need to understand how relationships and teamwork can be very effective in accomplishing Christ’s work.

Agility enables us to quickly respond to needs without bureaucratic paralysis. This seems to align well with the way Jesus went about ministry and meeting people’s needs. Jesus simply responded. In the Biblical story of the traveler who had been robbed and left to die beside the road, it was the Jews who were steeped in a tangle of laws, rules and conditions who refused to intervene on his behalf. Jesus pointed out that it was a Samaritan man (one unencumbered by such a system) who came to the travelers aid and saved his life. He didn’t look to the system; he reached into his own pocket and served his fellow man.

We exist to explore the question of how to do church in meaningful and effective ways. If that means not preaching every week, that’s fine. If it means we operate from a position of less control over money and ministry, that’s fine, too. It’s a question I still believe we have not adequately explored and one we will be wrestling with in our small group over the next few months.

We are fortunate that we have the flexibility to experiment with different approaches in order to discover what may or may not work; all in the context of helping one another become the followers of Jesus the scriptures describe. When we serve one another and the people around us well, we are doing what Jesus would do.

We also exist to serve and function with excellence. It is my conviction that we should strive to offer God the very best we can. When we give ourselves permission to “settle” we have resigned ourselves to mediocrity and, eventually, complacency.

We serve a God who is perfect and I believe He delights in our efforts to serve Him with excellence. That doesn’t mean everything must be perfect. Perfectionism (and I know about which I speak) is a grace killer. We should always maintain margin for grace but we should not allow our preference for grace to undermine our preference for excellence. We pursue excellence before our God because He is Most Excellent. So in our church, on our jobs, at school, in our relationships, in our recreation, and when we’re alone, we should aspire to and work toward excellence.

As a church we can congratulate ourselves and even equate righteousness with how busy we are. I’ve been on that treadmill before and I never want to return. Following Jesus is not about how many activities we schedule on our calendar; it’s about the impact we make.

I believe we are positioned as church, both organizationally and spiritually to make a difference for a few or for many. Our small group focus works as well for one group as is does for a hundred. So comparing ourselves with others is a distraction. Let’s be who we are, discover our passions, pursue them with energy and build Christ’s Kingdom together.

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