I’m convinced that our imaginations are so often blocked by the artificial limits we place on ourselves. I was thinking about the results of our recent survey and our discussion of passion (or lack thereof) at our meeting last Thursday. What would be helpful for us to gain passion? I think it has to start with getting in a place where we can imagine again and getting out of the rut of always doing things in the same limiting ways. If we apply this to our life together as a church – we need to be imaging what we could be and do together untethered to the way we do things now.
Earlier this week a friend of mine told me about some imaginative “core values” he saw on a church web site. The core values I’m used to seeing are always normative – these were much more inviting to imaginative applications. So maybe this a place for us to start gaining passion?
An understanding of the gospel of grace as the dynamic for all life-change and ministry.
“Religion,” the default mode of the human heart, is “I obey-therefore I am accepted.” But the gospel of grace is “I am accepted through Christ-therefore I obey.” Nearly everyone thinks Christianity is another form of “religion.” But when the gospel is communicated clearly, it not only amazes and attracts those who don’t believe, it helps Christians grow in grace who are mired in the self-righteousness, pride and anxiety that moralism produces.
A heavy emphasis on small groups and the necessity of deep community.
God’s purpose in history is not simply to save individual souls, but to create a new humanity, a people with a communal life that reflects, to some degree, the future kingdom of God. We are to see people united in love who could never have been brought together without the power of the gospel to humble, affirm and transform their identity. Christians are, therefore, not to simply come to church to receive inspiration and information, but are to give themselves to real community and personal relationships.
A welcoming orientation toward secular people who don’t believe in Christianity.
The gospel removes any sense of superiority toward those who don’t share our beliefs. We respect and remember what it is like to seriously doubt Christianity. We therefore expect not-yet-believers in almost every facet of SRPC’s ministry and we make every effort to engage and address their questions and concerns.
A holistic emphasis on ministry in both word and deed and a concern for the poor.
Jesus didn’t save us just with words, but mainly through his deeds…his work. The gospel demands that every recipient of God’s grace surrender the illusion of self-sufficiency. This removes all superiority toward the poor. It equips us to use our gifts and resources to love our neighbors not just in word, but through deeds of sacrificial love.
A goal of equipping people for cultural renewal through the integration of faith and work.
The gospel brings us a unique perspective on God, human nature, the material world, the direction of history, and the importance of community. All of these inevitably influence the way we work, whether in business, government, healthcare, service industries or the academy. Therefore, we help Christians integrate their faith with their work in order to serve the common good of the whole city.
A commitment to the planting of new churches.
The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for the numerical growth of the Body of Christ, the renewal of existing churches, and the overall impact of the church on the culture of our area. Nothing else-not crusades, outreach programs or para-church ministries-will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting.