Monday, July 20, 2009

The Church: A Gospel, Authentic, and Missional Community

The leadership of Village Seven is working on its strategic plan. While there are many practical steps that need to be determined in order to formulate this plan, there are some more foundational characteristics of the church that must always be kept in view.
First, the church must know and understand its mission. At Village Seven, our mission is to be a life giving church to Colorado Springs, the West, and the World. Beyond our mission, we have four core values—worship, teaching, nurture, reaching. Furthermore, in terms of theology, we are Reformed. In regard to church government, we are Presbyterian. Our mission, values, theology and polity all are components in making us who we are as a church.

Besides these, there are other important distinctives of who we desire to be as a church. These distinctives are 1) Gospel-based community, 2) an authentic community, and 3) a missional community. There is much overlap between these three. As people understand the gospel, they will become more authentic in their relationships, and more missional in their living. At the same time, as people live in community and live with a sense of mission, it will drive them back to the gospel. Therefore, in order to achieve one, we must aim at all three.

Gospel Community
We desire to be a community of God’s people that are living in line with the gospel. This means that we want to live based on the understanding that we are fully loved and accepted by God based on the finished work of Jesus Christ (Justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone). We always want to grow in our understanding of the gospel that reminds us that we are more sinful than we ever dared to imagine and in Christ, we are more loved than we ever dared to hope.

As a result of this understanding, we are completely secure because we know that nothing can separate us from the love of God. We can be honest about our sin in full repentance because we know God’s love for us is not based on our performance. We can embrace fellow sinners because we know that we, too, are broken and sinful. This understanding of the gospel enables us to be bold, yet humble, secure, yet vulnerable; repenting, yet joyful.
Authentic Community
Being a gospel-based community frees us up to be an authentic community. Instead of maintaining a fa├žade of righteousness, we are free to be honest about our sin because our security is found in Christ’s righteousness, not our own. As an authentic community, we are learning to let down our masks. We want to be passionate in our pursuit of holiness, but honest about our sin. We want to be a community that lets other people in our lives, to see the dirt, hurt, and ugliness of sin so that we can minister to one other out of the gospel. So, we desire to be transparent with one another, to love one another, to bear one another’s burdens, to forgive one another—all because that is what Christ has done for us.

Missional Community
As a gospel-based community, we are passionate about continuing Jesus’ ministry of redemption. Therefore, we want to love our city and our world even as God so loved the world. Just as Christ gave Himself up for us, we desire to give ourselves up for the world, to join in His suffering to take his ministry of reconciliation to those in need. Therefore, we want to follow Christ’s pattern of ministering to the world in both word and deed. As the body of Christ, we desire to bring healing where sin has brought hurting. In the words of a great hymn, we want to join with Christ in making his blessings flow far as the curse is found.

1 comment:

Terra said...

I'm interested to hear your further thoughts on how to build an authentic community. I have found it more challenging to find/create community in a "traditional denominational" (for lack of a better description) church then in non-denominational churches. They (independent churches) often lack in the other two areas, but seem to do community really well. I think it would be amazing to find all three characteristics in one local body of believers. :)