Commitments & Convictions:
- The whole Bible is the Gospel of Christ
- The Gospel calls us to live in mission
- We live and grow by grace through faith in the Gospel
1.1) Conviction: The whole Bible is the Gospel of Christ
Luke 24:25-27 – He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.
Luke 24:44-47 – He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
1 Corinthians 1:22-24; 2:2 – Jews demand miraculous signs [power] and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God… For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
1.2) Commitments: Implications for being a Gospel-centered Church
a) We will read the Bible as the Gospel.
Since the central theme of the Bible is—the sufferings and glory of Christ, we will read the Bible as the story of salvation, not moralistic lessons. We will see how the law, the ceremonies, and the history all point us to their fulfillment in the coming of the Deliverer promised in Genesis 3:15 and throughout the Bible.
b) We will preach and teach the Gospel to believers, not just unbelievers.
We become Christians and we grow as Christians by grace through faith in Jesus. Therefore, we will preach the Gospel as the means to grow, as opposed to just presenting “biblical principles for living” (the law) to believers.
c) We will preach and teach the Gospel in every sermon and every lesson.
The most desperate need of both unbelievers and believers is to hear and appropriate the Gospel to their lives each and every day. Therefore, we will point people to the Gospel in every sermon, lesson, Crowded House gathering, etc.
d) We will receive the Gospel as the “milk” and the “meat” of God’s Word.
Since the whole Bible is the Gospel and Christ crucified is the wisdom and power of God (1Cor.1:22-24), then we never move beyond the Gospel to something “deeper.” There is nothing deeper than the Gospel. Therefore, we will view the Gospel as both the A-B-C’s and the A-to-Z of Christianity.
e) We will view the world and the church through the lens of the Gospel.
Since the Bible is our ultimate authority and the Bible is the Gospel, we will know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1Cor.2:2). This means our understanding of the world and church and how to address its needs and problems will be based on the Gospel.
2.1) Conviction: The Gospel calls us to live in mission
John 17:18-19 – [Father] as you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
Matthew 28:18-20 – Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Acts 1:8 – You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Acts 8:1,4 – On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria… Those who were scattered preached the word wherever they went.
What does it mean to be missional? Bottom-line it means: We are a church “for” the city/culture/people where God has placed us and through it the world. Some churches are “of” the culture. They so embrace the culture that they lose their distinctiveness. Some churches are “against” the culture. They so oppose the culture that they lose their relevance. And some churches are “above” the culture. They so “super-spiritualize” life that they lose their point of contact. On the other hand, a church “for” the culture engages the culture in order to transform it.
2.2) Commitments: Implications for being a missional church
a) We will live in mission—to be “for” the city/culture/people.
b) We will learn and speak the language of our culture.
- We will avoid speaking ‘Christianese’, pious prayer language, and in-house 'jargon'.
- We will avoid technical theological terms, unless we explain them.
- We will avoid ‘we-them' language, language that belittles people of different political, spiritual, social positions, or is disrespectful of people with whom we disagree.
- We resolve, instead to engage people by humbly admitting our weaknesses and failures, while demonstrating the joyful difference the Gospel makes.
- We resolve to talk as if non-Christians are always present.
- We will do this not as an out-reach strategy but as the fruit of a Gospel-changed heart.
c) We will sincerely listen to people and their ‘stories’.
- We will understand, love and respect them unconditionally, and serve them by showing them how Jesus meets their deepest longings. To do this we will have a knowledge and appreciation of the culture’s movies, books, music, politics, etc., in order to understand the culture's hopes, dreams, influences, and fears. So, we can show people that only Jesus can fulfill their greatest desires.
- We will learn: a) what in our culture is good and can be enjoyed and celebrated, b) what in our culture is anti-Gospel and must be rejected, and c) what in our culture can be renewed and adapted for good.
d) We will live out our Christianity in all of life.
- We will learn together how to think, do, and be distinctively Christian in our work and recreation.
- We will encourage and celebrate Christians who are advancing the “kingdom of God” in the public square.
- We will show Gospel love and tolerance toward those with whom we strongly disagree with. One of the biggest criticisms of Christians is that we are intolerant. But since we are saved by grace, we should be the most humble, tolerant people in society. And so we will be. Understood correctly, tolerance is not about a lack of conviction, but rather it’s about how your convictions lead us to treat people with whom we disagree.
e) We will be a Christian community that is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive.
- We will show the world how radically different a Christian society is with regard to relationships, sex, money, and power.
- Regarding relationships: We will celebrate God’s design for diversity and cultivate unity—to radically love each other—so that the world will see the difference Jesus makes. We resolve when there is conflict we will not just walk away but we will actively work at reconciliation with one another.
- Regarding sex: We will avoid the extremes of idolizing sex and fearing sex. Instead we will hold a glorious, scriptural, and orthodox view of sex in marriage as a pointer to intimacy with Christ. We also resolve in regards to people whose sexual lifestyles are different than ours, that we will show genuine and sacrificial love rather than hostility or faithless fear.
- Regarding money: We resolve to be radically generous in our giving of time, money, skills, and relationships in order to work for Kingdom justice and caring for the poor, weak and needy.
- Regarding power: We resolve to share power and build friendships between different races and classes.
- We will not only strive to be involved in evangelism and church planting, we will also strive to be involved in deeds of Kingdom justice and mercy.
f) We will demonstrate the unity of the church in the city.
- We will celebrate what God is doing to glorify Himself in other churches, instead of criticizing other churches.
- We will develop alliances with other like-minded churches in order to serve our city together
- We resolve, beyond that, to cooperate and develop meaningful relationships even with congregations much different than us in order to serve our city. Although this will raise some areas of tension, we will continue to head in the direction of cooperation with the goal of glorifying God.
3.1) Conviction: We live and grow by grace through faith in the Gospel of Christ
Galatians 3:1-5 — You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Galatians 5:1-5 — It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets Himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Romans 1:16-17 — I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."
Colossians 2:6-8 — So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
3.2) Commitments: Implications for being a grace renewal church
a) We will live in on going grace renewal.
To that end, we will preach the Gospel to our selves, love our neighbors, and pray it forward through kingdom centered prayer—all done in a community of grace.
b) We will be “new” people, not just “nice” people.
The Gospel is out not to reform people but to transform people. Churches that preach for behavioral reformation tend to elevate middle-class values to the level of biblical norm and focus on external change. We will seek transformation at the motivational and character level, not merely behavioral modification.
c) We will believe that the Gospel can change anyone.
Since we are saved by grace, there are no hopeless cases and no hopeless situations. Since we are saved by grace, we will have great respect and great hope for every unbeliever.
d) We will motivate with grace, not guilt.
The Gospel is the power of God to motivate us. Those gripped by the Gospel are compelled by the love of Christ (2Cor.5:14) to serve, give, and witness. Therefore, we resolve not to motivate people through guilt trips driving them to obey out of fear. But rather we will motivate people through the Gospel that sets us free to love unconditionally out of gratitude for God’s grace.
e) We will solve all problems (personal, church, social) with the Gospel.
The root of all of our problems is that something other than Christ is serving as our functional savior. Therefore we neither just tell people: “You shouldn’t act like that. Stop it!” nor “You need to accept yourself as you are!” Rather, we call them to repent of their idols and trust in Christ who through his life and death is the only one who can give them all they are longing for.
Some Key Doctrines:
- God - The Gospel reveals who God is and puts Him as the focus of all things.
- The Person & Work of Christ - The Gospel shows that God the Son is completely sufficient by making us acceptable to the Father by His atoning work on the cross.
- Holy Spirit - The Gospel is the reality that God is working to redeem this world through the Holy Spirit's empowerment and transformation of believers.
- Scripture - The whole Bible is the Gospel which points to Jesus Christ as the agent of God's redemptive work for humanity.
- Humanity - The Gospel tells the truth of God's creative purpose for humanity and our depravity due to sin.
- Sin - The Gospel explains sins affects and how humans and their world are redeemed from it.
- Salvation - The Gospel proves that Jesus is the only way to salvation and that through Him, God has made a way for those who hear His call to be freed from sin and its penalty.
- The Church - The Gospel puts believers together on mission and gives them a focus of worship by giving a reason and purpose for living as agents of God's grace to the world.
- The Last Things - The hope of the Gospel is that Jesus is coming back to restore the heavens and the earth, to raise everyone--the living and the dead--for final judgment, and to ultimately put death to death, completely restoring what was lost due to sin.