Here it is! Our Foundational Statement

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.

FOUNDATIONAL STATEMENT

Jesus:
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.

Church:­­­
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:
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.

Service
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
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.

Done! (Almost)

Discernment Team at Work

Part of our discernment team after finishing the rough draft of our foundational statement

Everyone’s smiling because we’re done with the Foundational Statement! Well… we’re done with the rough draft anyway. It has been numerous sessions with a lot of hard work, but we are almost there. I had to take a picture to preserve the moment with all of the papers strewn everywhere. Pulling all of our ideas together into something coherent was not easy! If you could see the whiteboard in the front of the room it would show even more of the chaos. Each individual component of our statement (Jesus, Church, Salvation, Service, & Evangelism) has been worked and reworked. Now we take a breather, reflect on it again, and hopefully we will put the finishing touches on it this Sunday.

I have to say that even though it has been a lot of intellectual work so far, it has also been a spiritually rewarding process. Thinking deeply about our most cherished ideas about our relationship with Jesus and trying to put those into words is rewarding in itself. Discussing those ideas and trying to reach consensus with a group of other believers is even more so. We are truly blessed to have an amazing and enthusiastic group of people working on our team. We have a lot of fun, but everyone is also willing to speak up, disagree, listen, and compromise. I look forward to being able to share the results of all our labor with you soon.

Speaking of labor… the Andersons are expecting their first child any day now! We look forward to meeting the newest member to our discernment team and potentially the youngest member of our new church.

Super Rough Drafts

It was a Super Bowl Sunday to remember! The game was a good one for those who like a well-fought competition. It would’ve been better if the Pats had won, but you can’t have everything. The commercials were alright I suppose (seems like the creativity was lacking a bit). But what makes this Superbowl Sunday memorable was that I fell asleep watching the game. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but it happened. And the reason it happened is because of this:

Whiteboard covered with text describing Jesus

Our first drafts: Who is Jesus?

We spent two hours after church with the discernment team starting to write our foundational statement. Actually, we never got beyond the first question: “Who is Jesus?” It was invigorating, challenging, and ultimately exhausting!  What you see in the picture was our first, individual attempts at the question. We then tried to identify common themes and anything essential we needed to add. After that we gathered in three small groups creating consolidated statements before we wrapped things up in time for kickoff. Now we are close! Our hope is that we will wrap up this first question at the beginning of our next meeting and then begin what should be a bit easier: defining church, evangelism, service, and salvation.