The following 4 values describe the culture of our local body. Of course, there are more values to being the Church. However, the following provide necessary buoys for us as WE navigate the open waters of ministry.
The Bible is the normative, authoritative truth for all believers, has supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct, and has been preserved in the Old and New Testaments (2 Tim. 3:14-17). When read and understood correctly, the Bible is a gift that sustains us (Mt. 4:4, cf. Ez. 3:3) as well as empowers us to love and honor God and others (Mt. 22:36-40, cf. Dt.. 6:4-5, Lev. 19:18).
The Scriptures are written by ordinary humans who are divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16, 1 Pet. 2:11). The task of interpreting Biblical passages requires understanding the original context, genre, meaning and congruence with the Scripture's overarching meta-narrative in order to receive the significance and application for us today. Because God is true (Jn 14:5, Hb. 6:18), WE trust the Bible as it is an expression of God and His desire to be in relationship with us true (Ps. 19:7-11)
Both living and active (Hb. 4:12), the Scriptures speaks to us today. As WE read, the Bible reads us. What is also necessary is to know what God may be saying to us is prayer, humility, and many times a safe, loving faith-community (1 Co. 2:13-14, 2 Tim. 2:7). As WE grow together in the knowledge & wisdom of the Scriptures, WE become even more equipped to live within God's love and purposes (Ps. 1).
Ultimately, the written Word, the Bible, leads us to the living Word, Jesus Christ. Jesus directs us to the Scriptures as the Scriptures direct us to Him (Is. 53, Lk. 24:44-48, Jn 5:39). May WE read together to know Him more as the Lord knows and loves us fully.
WE want to be and become daily discerners, a church who prayerfully hears (or senses) what God is saying and faithfully responds both personally (Jn. 10:1-5, Mt. 7:24-29) and collectively (Ps. 95:7, Mk. 3:34, Jn. 10:16, Heb. 3:7-15). By definition, Christian discernment is an openness of heart (our thoughts, emotions and desires) to the Spirit and to the communications of God in expected and unexpected places. WE believe this "with God" living is where true life is (Dt. 30:19-20, Jn. 10:10).
Question: Why is being attentive to the Spirit, aka discernment, a primary value for the church? Why not Justice? Or Generosity? Or Hospitality? Great question. Answer: These additional callings will come when God speaks to our community to specifically step into areas of justice, generosity, etc. Discernment allows us to be open to the winds of the Spirit (Jn. 3:8) as WE seek to love others together (1 Co. 14:26).
This kind of attentiveness requires our certainty of God’s love for us as WE embrace our identity as God’s beloved (John 5:20). WE must also trust that the Holy Spirit plays the primary role of Christian Discernment (Jn. 14:15-17) consistently initiating with us (Jn. 5:19). The Spirit is available and wants our attention! Being grounded in the word, a proper theology of Holy Spirit, the "forgotten God," is vital.
The gift of salvation brings also the gift of regeneration (1 Cor. 6:11, Gal. 4:6, 2 Thes. 2:13). Regeneration is the event when our spirit is renewed (Jn. 3:5-6, 2 Pt. 1:4) and the Holy Spirit moves in us (Rm. 8:10, 2 Co. 4:6-7, Eph. 3:17, Col. 1:27). Before salvation, WE were spiritually lost and senseless (Eph. 2:1-2, cf. Lk. 19:10), but God, in Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, replaces our old nature with a new spiritual "self" (Gal. 2:20, 5:19-23, 2 Co. 5:17).
This new status never changes (Dt. 31:6, Heb. 13:5), lasts forever (1 Pt. 1:4) and is maintained by God (Jn. 10:27-29). Through the Spirit, WE receive the love of the Triune God (Rm. 5:5) and are moved to love God and others (Rm. 8:12-14, 12:1-3, 1 Jn. 3:23-24). The mystery of the Holy Spirit is that the Spirit lives in each of us as WE live in the Spirit (Jn. 14:15-17, 1 Jn 4:13). The Spirit affirms our place in God’s home and continues to restore/ sanctify us (Jn. 15:9-17, 16:12-15, Rm. 15:16, 1 Pet. 1:2).
There is more that can be said about the Person, Work and gifts of the Holy spirit. Per this conversation, WE know is that the Spirit guides just as the Spirit led Jesus in his earthly ministry (Rom. 8:14, cf. John 5:19). "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Cor. 3:17).
Like Jesus, WE seek to welcome all each person that join us and thank God for the opportunity to be together (Mt. 9:9-13, Lk. 15:20). To love someone is to accept their personhood (Gen. 1:26-27). Despite our cultural milieu, WE can love and care without having to endorse every behavior or decision each person makes (Lk. 10:21-23, 1 Co. 6:12, 10:23-24), especially sin (Rm. 12:9). At all times, the church freely loves, honors and expresses tangible care for others by affirming the lordship of Jesus and our shared identity in him (Rm. 12:5, 1 Cor. 6:15). This love is radical to say the least, the most absolute love there is (Lk. 6:27-35, 15:1-32, Jn 15:1-17, Rom. 8), and has countless facets that produces/ practices tangible care. Let's name a few...
Practicing hospitality (Lev. 19:33-34, Rm. 12:13, 1 Pt. 4:9). This includes eating together!
Declaring one another’s sacred worth (Gen. 1:27, Rm. 10:14-15, cf. Jn. 1:12-13).
Serving sacrificially (Mt. 5:13-16, 25:35-36, Jn. 15:13).
Listening as WE share our secrets, struggles, mistakes and desires (Lk. 7:36-50, Eph. 5:8-14).
Bandaging wounds (Ex. 15:26, Ps. 147:3, Mk. 2, Lk. 10:34).
Loving mercy and acting justly (Jer. 22:3, Mic. 6:8, cf. Lk. 6:36).
Exhorting One another to live within our shared dignity (Col. 3:16, Eph. 4:14-16).
Leading in a way that is not coercing or condemning (Jer. 10:23, Lk. 9:23-24, Rom. 8:1, cf. 1 Pet. 5:1-3)
Modeling Jesus' loving invitation AND loving challenge (Matt. 4:19, 28:18-20).
Praying for one another (Col. 1:9-12, Jm. 5:16) and all people (Jn. 3:16, 1 Tim. 2:4).
In the end, WE care for others by holding one another (Lk. 15:20) thereby entrusting each other into the love of God who is love (1 Jn. 4:16 cf. Mt. 22:36-40, Dt. 6:5-6, Lev. 19:18).
Is there more? Of course! Instead of more theology, let's instead talk about this over a cup of coffee, share our stories and hopefully laugh a bit. God is good (Ps. 34:8, 145:9, Mk. 10:18, Js. 1:17). The Lord is near (Ps 145:18, Acts 17:27, Js. 4:8). May WE enter into the proximity that practical care truly requires (Jn. 1:14).
In a world that seeks to rest or crash from work (Gen. 3:14, Ps. 127:2), WE must live from a deep, healing place of God's rest (Ex. 33:14, Ps. 4:8, Jn. 15:1-9). We cannot reflect the character and priorities of Jesus if WE don't find our home in his gentle rhythms (Mt. 11:28-30, Mark 1:35, Lk. 6:12). To be clear, this doesn't mean WE "kill time"; instead WE delight with the Lord in Holy Leisure (Ex. 31:17, Ps. 23).
A restful life is a contemplative life filled with prayer, Scripture reading, Sabbath, silence and other traditional practices that cultivates the Spirit's work in our lives. This can also include but is not limited to hiking, biking, surfing, swimming, pickle ball or jiujitsu. With love of God, refreshment has no limit (Ex. 20:8, Mk. 2:27).
The more WE rest daily, weekly and annually, the more WE know who WE are and whose WE are in Christ (Ps. 139:1-24, Eph. 1). In turn, WE further strengthened to seek God's kingdom without pride, bitterness or burnout. From this place of unforced being, WE our lives are able to become congruent with our faith. (2 Co. 3:18, Col. 2:6-7).
There will be always be a direct connection between physical/ emotional/ relational health and our spiritual maturity (Mk. 12:28-31, Rm. 12:1-12, Phil. 4:6-8). Resting with the Triune God is a primary path to spiritual growth (Ps. 37, Heb. 4).