Christ Church: A Transforming Presence, 2011
VISION: “Think what a local church would be like if its people were radically devoted to Christ, irrevocably committed to each other, and relentlessly dedicated to reaching those outside God’s family with the Gospel of Christ. It would be a church against which the gates of hell could not prevail!” With these words, a pastor in the Midwest one generation ago voiced his dream as he reflected on the early church portrayed in Acts 2:42ff. Such a dream may seem unrealistic to those of us familiar with the stale air of American church life in the 21st Century.
Yet this is the vision that drives us at Christ Church. Back then, over against the dead religiosity represented by the Temple in Jerusalem and the Caesar cult of Rome, a new kind of faith community appeared. It was odd and counter-cultural then; it remains so today. One modern author describes radical Christianity as “citizens of heaven, colonizing the earth.” We live by heaven’s gracious standards, striving to achieve the mission that heaven’s King has set—nothing less than transformation, the “setting right” of all that sin has broken—in the lives of humans, and in this sad and unjust world.
Such a faith-community is not defined merely by Sunday services and weekday programs based in a building we call a “church”. In fact, it is more about who we are than what we do: broken and sinful, saved by God’s radical grace and transformed by his forgiveness, we model in our lives the good news of God. We learn to view this busy and demanding life as a calling from God, we struggle through hard times together in faith, and we love neighbors well because God does. Transformed by the gospel ourselves, we prayerfully dream to be a transforming presence where God has placed us.
Such a vision is not unrealistic, for the gospel leverages the energy of God’s Spirit, not our strength. Beginning with a small group of Spirit-filled people in early Acts, such a church once changed the world. We believe it can do so again.
The MISSION: proclaim a transforming gospel, be a transforming presence.
- Proclaim only the gospel: the gospel is more than information to help us succeed, but is a power that transforms us by forgiveness and grace. We will be relentless to believe, preach, teach, and rely on the gospel alone.
- Being, not just talking: We will model the powerful gospel of grace relationally— individually and in community—and not merely talk about it.
The STRATEGY: we will be “one church of many congregations” strategically scattered in the city as a transforming presence, emphasizing:
- worship that exalts God, enriches believers, and winsomely engages our neighbors
- community groups and discipleship to care well for each other, struggle well together through life’s hurts, and mentor, trains and equip all for a life of service
- every member serving Christ in ways that leverage the gifts and passions of each, both within the church and in our world