Friday, April 18, 2008

Church Values, Christian Values

Element does not have a formulated list of "values" as you see in most contemporary churches today. We don't really even have a vision/mission statement per se, despite the fact that one of the first questions someone asked at our very first prospective leadership team meeting in 2006 was "What's our mission statement?" I'm opposed to having such things just because you're supposed to have them, and the closest we've come is this line from our About page: Our passion is to cultivate a growing, redemptive environment for real spiritual growth and connection to God and others.

But I'm toying with the idea of writing a list of Values for approval by our board of directors. It would be a way of having in writing a measuring stick for future efforts, programs, and attitudes, but I confess it would also be a way of supplying an antidote to the values prevailing in the church scene today. So instead of "creativity," "relevance," "the potential of people," etc., our values would be:

The Ultimacy of God
With the Westminster Confession of Faith, we agree that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Our highest value and greatest good is that God be glorified in all we do, that His name be renowned and hallowed, and that He would increase and we would decrease. We look forward to the day when "the knowledge of His glory fills the earth like the waters cover the sea."
(Hab. 2:14; 1 Cor. 10:31; Rom. 11:36)

The Supremacy of Christ
We believe that Jesus Christ is the King over all kings, the Lord over all lords, and the mighty Savior of sinners. As Jesus is God incarnate, our advocate and sacrifice, risen three days after death to glorified bodily life, and as He sits at the right hand of the Father and at the head of the Church, we treasure Him above all things. We believe the authentic Christian life is one that trusts all life and death to Jesus and is completely satisfied in Him alone.
(Col. 1:15-23; Eph. 2)

The Gospel
We will not be ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of salvation for all who believe (Rom. 1:16), and consequently, our worship and our discipleship and our missions and our fellowship will be exercised in the joy and power of the amazing grace God has lavished on us in Jesus. We affirm a robust gospel that affects all areas of life, a kingdom gospel that both satisfies the poor and the poor in spirit and the hungry and those hungry for righteousness. In word and deed, we believe that the good news that Jesus Christ has died and risen to save sinners and reconcile them to God is, as Paul says, "of first importance."
(1 Cor. 15:1-10; 1 Cor. 9:23)

Our Neighbors
Obedience to Jesus means first and foremost obeying the Great Commandment: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself." We believe that a living faith in Jesus is made manifest in a selfless love and care for our neighbors, in a sharing of the grace that has been given to us, and in our "being all things to all people that we might win some." In fulfillment of the Great Commission call to go into all the world and proclaim Jesus and make disciples, we will embody the kingdom call of the Sermon on the Mount, which calls for grace-filled relationships with all men.
(Mark 12:33; James 1:27; 1 Cor. 13:13; Mt. 5:1-10)

The Church
We believe the Church universal and the local church as her agents constitute the spiritual Body of Christ and are to embody the gospel of love and sacrifice of Jesus to the glory of God. We believe the Church is to testify to and model the kingdom of God being made manifest in the world and that it is to be a living picture of the good news of reconciliation with God and with each other. The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, and it is in the community of Christ that disciples of Jesus are best equipped, trained, nurtured, and empowered. God's plan for the spread of the gospel places the Church at the forefront of the Great Commission.
(Mt. 16:18; Eph. 3:10-11; Heb. 10:24-25; Rev. 5:9-10)

These are the values we are already committed to and best reflect our mission. It's no coincidence that I think these values aren't just things our churches should hold dear collectively, but that all followers of Jesus should hold dear individually.
One might object that these ideas are too big or too conceptual to be meaningful, but I disagree. And they're at least as applicable and coherent as "relevance" and "creativity" as concepts.

Anybody out there attend a church that lists more biblically-focused and therefore more counter-cultural "values"?


Jayce said...

While not as detailed, I do like our church's "About" section.

Bif said...

This is just absolutely wonderful, Jared.