I’m excited to finally be able to share this statement! We have worked hard on it, grown together in the process, and feel like we now have a good grounding for moving onto the task of “who” and “where” we are being called (the vision). Before you read the statement, take a look at the following description for the Starting New Churches guidebook so you know what we are after. We intentionally tried to avoid theological terminology (or “churchy” language). We also knew that we were not trying to say everything (If you come from outside the Presbyterian tradition and want to see a fuller theological statement take a look at our Book of Confessions). We would love to hear feedback. We want this to be a “living” document that will grow with our new community.
The first task of the team is to develop a one-page statement that answers the question, “Who is Jesus?” and then defines “church,” “salvation,” “evangelism” and “service.” We realize that when it comes to answering the question, “Who is Jesus?” the writer of the Gospel of John is right by saying, “the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) The key to this first task is that when a team discusses, debates, and writes down their absolutes about Jesus, church, salvation, evangelism and service, they find out if they can move forward together to start a new church. This also determines what the team will start.
Jesus was in the beginning, is now, and always will be. He is the visible image of the invisible God who came to walk among us fully human, passionately pursuing us with unconditional love and the ultimate expression of sacrifice. He chose to die for us and, conquering death, gave us life overflowing with abundance: a life of joy, peace, freedom, and purpose; an eternal life in relationship with God.
The church is God’s beloved. It is a community of people committed to following Jesus: gathering to worship and learn, and showing love and mercy through service and relationship. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the church is called and sent to demonstrate God’s all-consuming and irresistible love to others.
Salvation begins and ends with the grace of God. In our brokenness we are separated from our Creator. Through the sacrifice of God’s son, Jesus, we are redeemed and forgiven. When we accept this free gift, we experience true freedom and we begin a journey of growing in a relationship with God and being reconciled to others. When we receive the love Jesus longs to give us, we experience life as a child of God.
Salvation cannot be earned. We are, nevertheless, called to live sacrificially in humility and love. Service is the natural response to God’s love for us and an essential act of worship. Working as the hands and feet of Jesus, we are called to bring love, healing, mercy, and justice to the world.
Evangelism is good news! It is sharing the way Jesus has and continues to love us. It is sharing the way Jesus longs to have an intimate relationship with us. It is not a program or an agenda, but the living out of God’s heart for a lost world. Evangelism is the Spirit-led engagement of others – showing God’s love through actions and words to guide others in choosing a life in Christ.