The core values of a church are those values we hold which form the foundation on which we conduct ourselves. We have an entire universe of values, but some of them are so primary, so important to us that throughout the changes in society, government, politics, and technology they are STILL the core values we will abide by. In an ever-changing world, core values are constant. Core values are not descriptions of the work we do or the strategies we employ to accomplish our mission. The values underlie our work, how we interact with each other, and which strategies we employ to fulfill our mission. The core values are the basic elements of how we go about our mission. They are the practices we use everyday in everything we do.
Key habits: discipleship, & worship
We all seek joy in life. Many people chase the “American Dream” to have a better quality of life. These people are seeking joy. Job success, a good family, financial stability are all aspects of happiness in one’s life. These are not bad things by themselves. But C.S. Lewis reminds us:
If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
That’s it! The lack of joy is not that our desire for pleasure is too strong but too weak! We have settled for a home, a family, a few friends, a job, a television, an occasional night out, a yearly vacation, and perhaps a new personal computer. We have accustomed ourselves to such meager, short-lived pleasures that our capacity for joy has shriveled. We fall short of joy simply pursuing these things alone.
Blaise Pascal says: All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.
We believe Pascal is right. And, with Pascal, we believe God purposefully designed us to pursue happiness.The Westminster Shorter Catechism states that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” It has been suggested that this would be more correct as “the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”
Does seeking your own happiness sound self-centered? Aren’t Christians supposed to seek God, not their own pleasure? To answer this question we need to understand a crucial truth about pleasure-seeking: we value most what we delight in most. Pleasure is not God’s competitor, idols are. Pleasure is simply a gauge that measures how valuable someone or something is to us. Join us in this pursuit of satisfaction in God.
Key Passages: Psalm 16:11; Psalm 37:4; Matthew 6:33; Matthew 13:44; John 10:9-11; John 15:11; Romans 14:17; Galatians 5:22-23; Philippians 3:8; Hebrews 11:6; James 1:2-3; 1 John 1:3-4; Jude 24-25
Key habits: missional living, humble service, building trust
Most everyone values authenticity, but we have no idea how to be authentic. Just look at our social media habits. We spend the more time adjusting our image online for our friends rather than being known by them.
Authenticity is marked by a genuine and consistent walk. Our faith is not something to wear on Sunday and then put it in our pockets Monday morning. We want to be a blessing to our family, our neighbors, our coworkers and our community every day by the way we live and serve others. An authentic life is more than just a religious duty or ritual. It encompasses all aspects of the believer’s life. We do not “do” church on Sunday, work Monday through Friday during the day and then play on Saturday. A real lifestyle is marked by “being” the church every day in every aspect of our lives. We help people in need at work, bring comfort to people in the park, share life with our neighbors and even pray for people in restaurants. Our selflessness and service does not stop on the way out the church building doors.
We believe that biblical influence is realized through serving others by investing our lives in them. Our greatest satisfaction in life comes when we, motivated by our love for Jesus, exercise our gifts in serving others. When we serve together as a body, we become an authentic witness to our community and the world. In doing so we become a worshiping community of influence.
A real lifestyle also becomes a strong witness to the world around us. The argument of hypocrisy is deflated when we show consistency in our everyday life. This lifestyle brings the opportunity for believers to share the hope that is within them. A real lifestyle is in the world but not of the world.
A real lifestyle is also humble. A person who is living an authentic life does not mask or hide what is inside. A person is not afraid to show the mistakes, hurts and struggles in his or her life. When we are open and transparent true growth takes place and healing can occur. It does not make God small when we share our failures but in fact show His greatness to bring us through these trials.
Key passages: Matthew 7:12-27; Mark 10:45, 1 Peter 4:10, 1 Corinthians 1:27-31, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Philippians 2:1-11
Key habits: love others, time together, shared life & serving
We all crave real relationships. In a world that is shallow and disconnected we value true relationships and friends we can talk to face to face. We want to replace online networking with real people and chatting with a personal conversation that has emotion.
Our first relationship is with Jesus. This comes by his initiating grace to each of us. We build this relationship through two united disciplines. Worship is one side of this coin. Worship is not an event once a week but a daily experience in all that we do. We worship when we show devotion and adoration for Jesus, when what we do with our words and actions honors him. We also build this relationship through prayer. Prayer is our continual talking to and listening to Jesus. Conversation is essential for any true relationship and it is no different when it comes to Jesus.
Our next relationship is with other people. This relationship is expressed in what we call the church. The church is a community of people that are connected to one another for a common purpose. It is described as a bride, a body and a family. We desire to express real relationships through fellowship in this family. This creates a community of people that truly love one another and are devoted to each other. The New Testament lays heavy emphasis upon the need for people to know each other closely enough to be able to bear one another’s burdens, confess faults one to another, encourage, exhort, admonish one another and minister to one another. The church is not a building; it is a people. The church is not an organization; it is an organism that is organized.
Real relationships build strong unity even in strong diversity. This type of relationship with one another fosters trust and closeness. When people disagree or even when one is hurt by another, a real relationship allows for forgiveness and reconciliation. Dedication created in this relationship cannot be broken over trivial matters and love will always prevail just as the love of Jesus prevailed on the cross.
Real relationships are a direct reflection of how we were created. God has a real relationship within Himself. Father, Son and Spirit are in perfect harmony and show love and devotion to one another. The world will know the love of Jesus when they see the love we have for one another.
Key passages: Matthew 22:36-39, 1 Corinthians 12:12-20, Romans 12:4-5, Ephesians 2:19
Key habits: sharing time, talents & treasures, stewardship, serving others
Generosity is more than charity or simply giving some money to a cause. Generosity extends to every aspect of our lives and is an act of righteousness when we use our money, time, talents and social collateral to help the plight of those who have less and bring justice to situations and people. Generosity is a mark of the heart and justice is the physical outworking of this generous heart.
We do justice when we give all human beings their due as creations of God. Doing justice includes not only the righting of wrongs, but generosity and social concern, especially toward the poor and vulnerable. This kind of life reflects the character of God. It consists of a broad range of activities, from simple, fair and honest dealings with people in daily life, to regular, radically generous giving of our time and resources, to activism that seeks to end particular forms of injustice, violence, and oppression.
The gospel of grace will turn anyone who truly believes it into a generous person who does justice for those in need. Being generous includes a willingness to live a more modest lifestyle in order to give sacrificially to the church and to the poor. We have the Biblical and spiritual resources to overcome the superficiality of our culture and become a true blessing to our city and to the poor.
In the Old Testament the ‘righteous’ man is the man who uses his wealth for the good of the whole community; the wicked man is the man who uses his wealth for himself. The ‘wicked’ man who does not radically give away his own hard-earned wealth is not merely lacking in compassion, but is unrighteous and unjust. In the New Testament, the cross proclaims a complete reversal of the values of the world: power, recognition, status, wealth. The gospel is for the poor, both the economically poor and the poor in spirit, those who give up their pride and know their need.
Generosity is a matter of the heart and an understanding that God is the creator, so he owns everything and therefore we are only stewards of whatever we have. Christians therefore must live as stewards, using the power we have over creation through investing our money for God’s causes. We do that controlled by the thought that “my money is God’s.” We are obliged to give all of ourselves including our money.
There is no more powerful evidence of the power of the gospel than radical generosity. The more Christians give their money to God and others, the more people will believe in and experience the living reality of Jesus Christ. That is true if you literally give money to a ministry that wins people to Christ, or if you are simply generous to your neighbors and to the poor. Christian giving changes peoples lives.
Key Passages: Deuteronomy 15:4; 2 Chronicles 29:1-18; Psalm 146:7-9; Matthew 6:3; Micah 6:8; Acts 4:34-35; 2 Corinthians 9:11; Galatians 6:9
Key habits: helping, healing, serving, justice
All of Jesus’ ministry—the words he spoke, the miracles he performed—showed that there was a new order in town: God’s order. When Jesus healed the diseased, raised the dead, and forgave the desperate, he did so to show that with the arrival of God in the flesh came the restoration of the way God intended things to be. New life was given, health was restored. God was reversing the curse of death, disease, and discomfort. The incarnation of Christ began the “great reversal.”
Christ’s miracles were not the suspension of the natural order but the restoration of the natural order. They were a reminder of what once was prior to the Fall and a preview of what will eventually be a universal reality once again—a world of peace and justice, without death, disease, or conflict.
Churches must minister in both word and deed. The purpose of God’s redemption is to restore creation. God created both soul and body and the resurrection of Jesus shows that he is going to redeem both the spiritual and the material. Therefore God is not just concerned for the salvation of souls but also for the removal of poverty, hunger, and injustice.
The purpose of redemption and restoration is not to help individuals escape the world. It is about the coming of God’s kingdom to renew it. God’s purpose is not only to save individuals, but also to make a new world based on justice, peace, and love, rather than on power, strife, and selfishness. If God is so committed to this that he suffered and died, surely Christians should also seek a society based on God’s peace and love.
Preaching the gospel and healing people’s bodies are closely associated. Jesus didn’t save us just with words, but mainly through his deeds and his work. The gospel demands that every recipient of God’s grace surrender the illusion of self-sufficiency. We cannot look at the poor and call them to pull themselves out of their own difficulty. Jesus did not treat us that way! The gospel removes all superiority toward the poor. It empowers us to meet individual needs in the city and also to work for justice for the powerless. Christian churches must work for justice and peace in their neighborhoods through service, even as they call individuals to conversion and the new birth. We must work for the common good and show our neighbors we love them sacrificially whether they believe as we do or not. Indifference to the poor and disadvantaged means there has not been a true grasp of one’s salvation by sheer grace.
Restoration starts with a generous heart and moves into a broken world. It seeks the reconciliation of people to God, justice to the oppressed, and care and concern for the environment.
Key Passages: Psalm 14:7; Psalm 80:3; Jeremiah 33:6-9; Matthew 6:33; Acts 3:21; 2 Corinthians 4:18; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Revelation 22:1-3